On the waiting list for the NHS


You know the feeling. It’s the I have waited so long in this queue and then sent to the back feeling. The labelled feeling like the sell-by-date on food.

That’s what ‘it’ makes us feel like. And what is this ‘it’ exactly? One word NHS. If you have dared to ask the NHS for help – like moi by now you should know how le crape it is. The acronym may as well stand for ‘Not Happening Soon’, because of the crazy amount of time it takes to be referred. Now I’m not disregarding the good work NHS people do – but seriously the waiting times *Cough government? (By the way I’m on round #2)

Calling the clinic was hard. Why? Because, I got so nervous (as per) that I had to write down what it was I needed to say. Nervous that I could feel my heart picking up and my palms begin to sweat. But, I did it. The reason. I had been screened. Unfortunately not a ticket to the cinema – but of those of you who have gone through the system before will know it is when you lardeedar about ‘what’s wrong’ and fill in the same questionnaire, 1-10s and all that. Which is fine and well and good. But, that must have been over 3 weeks ago and I hadn’t heard a peep out of them since. So what were they planning to do with me? They had left me out to dry.

So, I had to call. I want help. So, I did – to then be told to ring another number (which is the worse news for someone with social anxiety!). Eventually I made myself do it. Not only was it annoying to hear clear gossiping in the background (I could hear every word), but that I would have to wait 4 months till I can get therapy. I am on a waiting list, among other people and would have to wait until I get to the top – which let’s face it could take longer. It was like I was another body slung onto the heap.

This is not good enough! Not just for me, but for everybody. People can have downward spirals in a matter of hours, days – not months. You will know this. They need help. We need help. When we decide we need help or can get help (which lets face it can be a pretty daunting set of steps) – we do it because we feel as if we need help now. For a lot of people getting help feels like the last resort.

The harsh reality is that people are not getting help quick enough. Like I said it is not necessarily a matter of months, but more hours, days, weeks. I will be able to wait that long. However, I can’t say the same for others. What happens if its too long and someone commits sucide, hurts themselves badly or gets themselves in a heap of trouble? Not only does this potentially cost the NHS more? And also the legal system due to consequence – gosh even social services. It has a domino effect. Not to mention the distress of loved ones who may not have even have known someone suffered mentally.

So, even the idea of saving ‘money’ hasn’t fazed the government – the very heart of politics. There needs to be change. Suicide, self-destruction, panic, the feeling of doom can all be prevented with help. It doesn’t have to get that far. People shouldn’t have to hurt themselves to get attention or to be prioritized (in some cases). You and me shouldn’t have to feel insignificant by being added to a ‘list’ of people and made to feel as if you are competing. Everyone deserves help. You do.

The real ‘trew’ is that there should be nothing last minute about the mental health system. Everybody should be allowed access if needed. If people were educated about it earlier or if people were offered help earlier it could prevent a lot of occurrences (crime, injuries, loss, waste of money). People should be allowed help on the day no matter how big or small the problem feels like. We all need support at some point.

Together we must take a stand!

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Stop Bullying

You are a school kid. Alone. Headed for home.

Yours hands are clutched over the folder you carry everywhere. By now you are quite away from your first year (high school) and the second, but perhaps not much further. The little company you have our your own thoughts and the memory of the day. The school is now a bit behind you.

Two boys head towards you. Your age. The same shabby uniform, perhaps they are in one of your classes. Maybe you hardly know them at all. They begin to awkwardly whisper at you, close and in the side of your ear. You don’t and can’t look at them. Their words are cruel.

Like sharks they preyed on you. Circled you then tested you out. At best you ignore them. You know they want to see your hairs on your arms prick, streaks down your face. Will they ever leave you? What can you do?

This is what I saw today. Bullying.

I had been where he had been. Gosh, I had practically danced around in his shoes. Maybe you have too? So, what do you do when you see this? Tell them to leave them alone or if they are being violent seek help. If you have been in that position then you know how horrible it can feel! So, speak up. It’s can be hard especially when we ourselves are anxious, but if you see it do it. I was surprised at how startled the bully’s looked before leaving him alone.

This also goes for ourselves. If you haven’t been bullied then you are wrong. If you get anxious a lot then anxiety is your bully. So feel that adrenaline and speak up as loud as you can. Tell it once and for all to leave you alone!

Feel the fear and do it anyway

Hello Anxiety,

Today I was… anxious (as if that wasn’t obvious). Why? Because for once I didn’t say no.

Now usually in my anxietyac ways I would neither say yes or no, sound familiar? I normally can’t say no because I feel obligated to say yes. However, I don’t say yes either because I want to say no. Do you get me? So, I normally end up beating around the bush and coming out with the same tentative if not repetitive lines like: I can do or perhaps. 

So a few days a go I finally said yes. My dad had booked me onto a soup course (because I’ve been cookin’ up a storm recently), to go to on my billybob. For once I said yes to make myself have to meet and talk to people. But, that wasn’t enough to stop the hit of regret or the depression seep under my skin. What had I done?

I couldn’t back out now. I had to do it (again I always feel obligated to do things -part of the whole judgement thing I have going on). When I got there. Sat on my own. I honestly felt stupid. Shaky. Judged. I got my mental crystal ball out and started to predict they saw me as this too quiet – awkward girl and I was embarrassed of myself.

Not only this, though today I felt particularly introverted. I had a weird chest which my mind kept on telling me that I was going to get a panic attack and humiliate myself.

Well I survived. Even on small social events an instinct tells us that we won’t survive, that we won’t be able to cope. Perhaps that is just our fight and flight on overdrive. I stuck at it.

In the end I settled down. I even managed to hold several conversations and became more relaxed as the rest of the course went on. So, what are the two things I have learnt from the experience. One is that you don’t have to keep pleasing everyone. For whatever reason with my social anxiety I expect others to expect how you should behave. I have made decisions based on what other people think i.e. holding on when you desperately need the loo (you don’t want to be rude) or feeling as if you have to eat everything offered to you even if you don’t want it. And the second is that we fear the anticipation more than anything else.

So, that is my anxious story of the day. Hopefully by taking these steps together and challenging ourselves even though our bodies tell us not to – we can get closer to saying goodbye to anxiety once and for all. So my next tip is the quote to feel the fear and do it anyway (all within good reason).

Labels

Hello Anxiety,

Whether they are sellotaped onto a gift, one of those annoying stickers you can’t get off a DVD or a pinned name badge, the word label has seemed to have adopted a far more metaphorical meaning. Now you’ve got people saying I don’t want to be labelled as… such and such or talking about how ‘labels’ are another form of stereotypes.

So, why am I chatting on about labels? Well, I have been thinking (as one often does) about the words or labels people put on anxiety. When you really think about it, and I mean really think about it. The amount of labels it gets are confusing. For once I’m not talking about ‘ignorant’ views or people who don’t have anxiety. Really it is how all of us choose to describe it differently. 

Some will call it an illness. Perhaps a disorder. Maybe even a disease. While others will explain it as something conditioned. An overly anxious person. A trouble. A problem. Generalised anxiety. Social anxiety. Agoraphobia. Depression. Introverted. The thing is we’ve probably used all if not most of these words to define this nerve jingling thing. But, really what is it? 

It’s all a bit mind boggling. If I say is an illness, does it mean I can be ‘cured’. Or perhaps I labelled it as a disease, does that mean I believe that there is no hope of getting better that it is simply something I have ‘got’. But, somehow being labelled ‘overly anxious’ doesn’t give us that medical jargon that seems to justify us. So, how do we define ourselves?

That just it. Today I can’t seem to get my head around it. However, what I can say is this. We weren’t born with this extra anxiety. Anxiety has come from experiences and events that have impacted our life in some way. Then they become bigger and bigger until perhaps we can no longer remember the original reason. So, today I don’t forgot my book of answers. However, it is definitely something to think about? How do you define or label anxiety?

#Tip 4 To find a path we first must climb a tree and see the view

Hello Anxiety,

“Hmm decisions…decisions?”

Life is often made out to be a list of decisions, stacked high and ready to be ticked off. Even the word itself “decision” has become as monstrously daunting and heavy as trying to go to sleep after watching a horror movie (which you told yourself not to watch) or hopelessly attempting to carry all your groceries (which you know you can’t) by running madly to the door before the weight keels you over.

As a teen, ‘decision making’ has been thrown, stuffed and flung down my throat **cough university. Not only that, but now there feels as if there is more pressure to make snap (couldn’t resist to click my fingers) decisions. It’s hard. And lets face it social expectations for not just us bubbled up teens, but for kiddies and the grownie ups too, seems to be coming to a boil.

Here is where you get your violin out… no I’m joking. What makes my decision making so hard for me personally is my anxiety. Which I hold my hands up and don’t doubt has affected everyone at some point. Whether that be trying to avoid that certain someone that has awkwardly blocked your path. Knowing whether to go for it and just ‘smile and wave’ or to quickly shuffle your butt out of there before they have a chance to see your face.

For me throughout my life so far there has been a clear line between my ‘aspirational decisions’ and my ‘anxious decisions’. How I see it is that you have the things that you would ‘in theory’ like to do if it were not for that tedious anxiety. And then pretty much all those anxious decisions that build a wall of avoidance we hide behind.

For sure anxiety has clouded my path. Now I can’t see the sign that should point me in the right direction. Perhaps others have passed me on this path, but I have been too scared to ask for their help so I am left here.

Feeling anxious of being judged has left my brain “confuzzled” (yes I like to blend words). It is mainly the bad narrator of my mind that makes me procrastinate, make excuses, literally doing anything, but come face to face with that decision.

It is like I’m or we are lost in an endless wood. We are tired, confused. We are all scared. What should we do?  The answer is this… to find a path we first must climb a tree and see the view.

#Tip4

#Tip 3 Be Harry Potter. Defeat those dementors with positivity.

Hello Anxiety,

Yep that little cloud has caught up with me again. I’m pretty sure that if I let it I would receive a proper drenching. It’s days like this when all you want to do is stay in your misery coma (at least that is what it’s telling me). There is nothing else my body seems to want to do, but drown in it – bask in array of the poor-me’s in the hope that guilt which stirs in my veins will go away.

Here’s a metaphor for Harry Potter fans! The lowness is like a dementor which feeds off sadness. In a way it’s like the dementor has a grasp of our soul or rather our true selves. And although, Harry was cured by some sweet tasting chocolate which most of the time can help with the blues. A square or two too many can leave us with a guilty food baby or rather ironically back to square one which was feeling low to begin with. That is what JK was getting at. I have heard many a time that dementors were symbolic of depression, and you can definitely see why.

But, chocolate was only a temporary cure like comfort eating or the bad habits we end up in. Bare with I’m not a Potter buff but have watched the movies. How does JK have Harry overcome these demons? With positivity, of course. Now, I know such a word has been used many a patronising time, but it is true. We like the character Harry have to make a decision to either let ourselves be leeched by anxiety and depression or we can realise the power that we have and give them a shove off. At the end of the day Voldemort was really defeated by love. A love that he didn’t have. All he had was fear. A power run by fear is know true power at all!

So, how do we stop those dementors or cloaking darkness from attacking us? Well this tip is simple. Though perhaps harder to follow. The sooner you realise that you hold all the cards in your life. No one else. When you look at what you have rather than what you don’t (it doesn’t matter how big or small it is – as long as it is important to you), be thankful. You are loved. If you don’t feel that way then here is a virtual hug (   ) we love you! Remember all those times where you did something you never thought you could. Look back and hold on to that proud feeling. You can do anything. You can achieve anything. Don’t think, I am not like that person so I can’t become a famous painter or whatever it is you aspire to be. They had their troubles too. You just didn’t see it. I’m struggling with writing my book. I can feel crippled with self-doubt. But, I got to keep telling myself I can do it! Keep going. Aspire for what you want to do. 

Those people that you want to be like or have been jealous of or simply inspire you. They were people who felt the fear and did it anyway. Simply they were the ones that didn’t give up.

So neither should you. And although, I wasn’t expecting to do such a long Harry Potter metaphor. Here it is #Tip 3 Be Harry Potter. Defeat those dementors with positivity.

If this post gave you a smile or a little tug please share it! If you liked it please remember to click the likey button on Google plus. Or if you fancy sharing your coping tips please comment below (however only nice things!). Thank you 🙂 xx

Tip#2 Fight back

When I was little I came up with a crazy-not-so-crazy notion. Something which kiddies with their daring and sometimes giggly imaginations often do. As a 4 year old, I thought that people saw a different me than the one I saw in the mirror. Of course, I told myself that clearly all the other small people would see a far prettier version from what I saw. That thought has stuck with me (I mean that thought that I thought – gosh if only I believed this could be true! Could you imagine, I would practically be floating on a cloud).

Yes, this thought might have been fanciful. Perhaps you could even say that it was more fantasy than reality. STOP. Let the thought sink in for a minute. Then ask yourself, is it really all those things?

If you described yourself and then someone else did (whether that be your chums or your families), would you say the same things? Err no, not likely. In fact you will probably find that you have either done one of the following or more:

1.     1. Made an array of umm and err’s to make it sound as if you are coming up with something… buuut you can’t really think of how to ‘start’.
2.   Spotted features – I have a nose
3.      Frowned at yourself in an attempted Harry Potter move to become (waves wand) Invisiblo.
4.      Labelled yourself as something or other i.e. tall – lanky – short – stubby and the list goes on and on.

But, something that we know we all have done is pick out the negatives first or perhaps just dumped them all on ourselves. Like how it is easier to draw the negative line than the crossed plus sign. We take the easier way out. May be we don’t even want to say nice things about ourselves, because we feels it crosses that barrier between confident and just plain obsessed with yourself. But, you are not.

For whatever reason the way the world works is that good things always seem to be much harder. Whether that be trying to attempt a non-chocolate diet and pile on the veg or trying to push out a few positive words. It just seems that the bad thoughts seem to come more easily to us. However what you need to remember is that the good is always more rewarding.

 The great thing is this. I wouldn’t see you the same way as you would and vice versa. Think of it this way. Those nasty nipping thoughts you told yourself are still just thoughts. Like I have realised, just because you think something doesn’t make it true.

It’s like today when the cooking didn’t go my way. I’m a failure. Just as black and white as that. I can’t cook. I can’t do this. And suddenly your mind is not yours anymore. Why do I do this? Because I always feel as if I have to do things perfectly. If I don’t, I have failed.

I know. I know. This is not true. And that is my point. It also leads to my next tip which is to fight back. Slap that one crappy thought with a better one. I’m not a failure, because I still managed to cook a nice meal…

Now is the time to get in the ring with your thoughts. Stop taking the blows on your face, learn how to block, dodge and thought punch your way to the winning bell. 

#Tip 1 on how to get out of Anxietytown

Hello Anxiety,

Today I took a step. And not just out in the rain that seemed to endlessly pour out of the heavens. But, a real step forward to getting myself out of Anxietytown or several if you are talking literally. Now, although I still have plenty of steps before I reach the border between Anxietytown and Freedom with every step whether that be crawling, running or hopping I will get there. And if I can, then so can you.

Picture back to a few weeks ago. At this time I had a really bad few weeks. As we do, when things feel particularly worse. I just felt pretty crap. I felt tense all the time like I couldn’t relax my muscles. I had lost some of my appetite (which I will say is completely unlike me) – my digestive system decided it would be fun to play a bad game a Tetris. I was getting anxious a lot. Well a lot for me. And it kept on stacking higher and higher. Not to mention the thoughts and other lardeedars. It just wasn’t fun. Still isn’t – though it is better.

At this point, all I wanted was help. I knew I needed and I wanted it as soon as. So, if you think you need help or if you say you don’t but you know that you do, get it. This is my 2nd time I went to my  GP and also 2nd time I have been referred. Lets face it, it is a loonngg process and I understand scarily so for those who need it most. Granted it has come around quicker than last, but it just seems so difficult to get help. Something which is just wrong for so many reasons that I know many of you know.

So, as I came just by the minute on time, having being anxious on top of anxious because my Dad took a while to get ready, I finally took my step. A few days ago weirdly enough I was looking forward to this. This felt like my hope to getting better for good rather than for a while. So, as I took my hood down went in and waited while the nerves still bubbled in me.

When my name was finally called in the way that it always is in a clinical environment, I got up and went. Why I am bothering to say this? Well, that in itself is a step. A step you can also take.

When I sat down on those rubbish uncomfortable chairs and the same doctory (yes I made this word up) cold wall colour, every thing was put in a new perspective again. It always happens that you have to sieve through all the problems you have faced, perhaps feeling as if we have to prove ourselves that yes we are anxious people. Always thinking or regretting that we failed to mention a very important point. Once I had talked for a while and filled in that same form I had become familiar to, I began to feel it all hit me. I wanted to cry, but felt I couldn’t. It just felt so emotional and it is.

So, I said I would give you some tips on how to get better. And as I went home I was bewildered at what it is I could say to help. Now, it rings as loud as ever. Tip#1 If you haven’t already got help get it! Ask for it! Talk about it! Then you will be one step closer to the mighty land of Freedom.

Anxiety is our comfort zone

Hello Anxiety,

Let’s face it anxiety has got you running circles. However clichéd the image might now appear to be, anxiety has you fixed like a dog chasing its tail. Or rather if we were to put it into words (from an anxious mind), it’s like travelling a train that doesn’t stop. But what if? And this is an if, that it wasn’t the train that didn’t stop, but rather it was you. You can’t get off at the next stop because you fear that unknown when you pass those scratched metal doors. It is the fear that disables us to get off a stop and make a decision.

Anxiety has us on autopilot. It is up to us to decide to put matters into our own hands and take the wheel. Okay, so I was a bit cheesy there. But, it helped get to the point, right? As strange as it sounds, and trust me it took quite a while to get my head around. Anxiety is our comfort zone. You’re confused, right? So was I, and like you the very of idea of putting the words anxiety and comfort zone in a sentence would have angered me. However, oddly enough this is true!

Anxiety is our comfort zone and everything else appears out of it. A few months ago when I became more relaxed in social situations or felt like I could cope with it more my brain started to get confuzzled. It sounds strange, but it was like my body couldn’t fathom as to why I wasn’t so anxious – that it wasn’t natural not to feel it. Then I had thoughts like whoa you should be feeling anxious right now – why aren’t you feeling anxious? It was fighting against me. You might have experienced this too?

So, why do we feel like this? How is it that when we feel anxious it feels as if we are in our comfort zone and when we don’t  we feel totally out of that comfortable circle? The answer is loud and clear. We need time. Often we have lived so long with these habits, years that when we break them it can take time to re-adjust. Just like if you have moved an object from where you would usually have it. You then have to consciously think of where you left it and retrace your steps. This is the same with us sometimes we will have to retrace our steps in order to become less anxious. But, it is important that you do. Like any young mind I can be impatient, and at times naively expect things to change in an instant. The reality is they don’t. Anything where the mind is involved takes time. And changing years of thinking and habits, is head down-and-keep-going sort of work.

I know now what you’re thinking…You are babbling on about this, but you haven’t told me how. I don’t have all the answers, though I can try. In my next post I will talk about some good techniques I found in a book about anxiety that can help.

I hope you all have had happy days. Talk to you on my next post!

Throw away those thoughts

By the time I think of how to put this into words I will have finished the tube of Smarties that are sitting at my desk. Perhaps it’s my kiddish side thinking that with each time I’m not typing or thinking about thinking that having a ‘smartie’ will give me a smart idea. I can’t quite decide whether this ideology is right or wrong, either way I’m typing this down.

Yep the Smarties have now officially gone – I’m sorry you should have asked if you wanted me to save you one. Anywho, I have shredded my anxiety. Literally shredded. Like it has been torn into little tiny shreds in a monster machine that has gobbled them up. And I’m not going to lie it was a bit of an anti-climax. There was no-one singing or a rainbow shooting over my head, but it still felt pretty darn good.

So, it all came about when someone decided to give me a message in the form of a little reading. Believe what you will, but it felt like there was some reason that it caught my eye. Funnily enough it talked about casting off your anxiety, do you see the irony now? Well, not only did it talk about throwing away your woes, but seeing your common worries as if they were an annoying mosquito. And what do you do when you see that mosquito? You normally slap it off as soon as your brain has registered the beady little thing that it was you were staring at. It told me, this is how we should view anxiety. When in the scenarios such as the mosquito or in fight and flight, we don’t spend time doddling about in our thoughts, we deal with instantly. Just like when we touch boiling water, our instinct is to jump away – not to think. Therefore, that is just how we should treat anxiety.

Too often we tip-toe around ourselves in an obvious game of hide and seek. Too many times do we try to shove what we fear to the corner of our minds like quickly closing the doors of a wardrobe that has too many clothes in – then running away. We know what is going to happen. That the clothes are going to fall out and everything is going to be a mess. But we choose not to face it. We say not now and do not look back. However, now you realise if you had dealt with the wardrobe in the first place, if you took some of the clothes out and dealt with them, you wouldn’t be faced with the seemingly bigger problem later.

I suppose it is like the time when you know something is going to fall out the fridge when the next person opens it. But, you don’t have to deal with it – so you close the door quick. On the day this happens to you, you are the one who has to clean it up. Just like with your mind. If you keep putting your worries aside. If you keep giving them fuel by not dealing with them straight away. Then you, yes you are the one who has to clean up. That milk carton has spilt everywhere and now instead of putting it somewhere else you have to clean up and perhaps bin some of the food it has leaked over.

So today I got a piece of paper and wrote numbering all the thoughts and worries I had. Once I had done this – read them aloud. I realised just how silly some of them were or how blinkered I had become. It made me feel selfish and ungrateful to read these things. This in itself made me realise that they were wrong. It put my thoughts in perspective rather than let them grow further. Then at last I did the deed. I shredded it. My thoughts were wrong. They were not me. Now do the same. You might be relieved to get some revenge on those nasty thoughts!