My anxiety story.

My anxiety story.

Warning- before I start this post I didn’t want to write this to sound like an “attention seeker”, I simply have a story that I want to share with anybody who wants to listen. SO get your cuppa and your tissues ready because we are about to get deep.

SO..let’s start from the start.

 

It all started exactly a year ago today as I post this, on this day in 2017 my parents bought me a car for my 21st birthday (which wasn’t until late June but I was impatient like that), after passing my test nearly 4 years previously. The day of my driving tests haunts me, to be honest, it couldn’t have been worse; you always hear stories of people who have the examiners who examine your examiners in the car… well that was me but 17 year old me, who had scraped all of my money I could earn during sixth form for driving lessons, had passed. 4 years later I still hadn’t gotten back in the driving seat. I got in the car and I couldn’t remember anything, I constantly stalled and barely knew how to turn my lights on but still, I was proud. Being at university I found living sans-car hard, the monthly visit home took 3 hours by train, I relied on taxis to get around my town and the idea of getting to and from a placement in the following year was looming. Having my new present was amazing and I felt like a newly independent woman.

Unfortunately, a few weeks after starting up my driving life, I was involved in a pretty minor accident, I’m not comfortable going into too much detail however it was both parties fault and ultimately nobody, except my ego, was hurt. That’s when the problem began. I suffered from flashbacks of the event, the guilt keeping me awake most nights. The thought of getting back in the car, particularly alone, made me feel sick. I was afraid to talk about it with anybody out of embarrassment, guilt and mostly the fact that I didn’t want people to think I was a bad driver. People never understood why I couldn’t just drive somewhere, like to pick people up or to go for dinner because in my head I meticulously planned any alternative method of getting there.

During term time I had issues in my university house and eventually moved out, I stayed in rented halls over summer and continued to work at my part-time job. I spent a summer facing an internal war of anxiety vs practicality, forcing myself to drive when I could. I began fixating on stupid rules that unless I followed I would surely get into a crash, this included only being able to drive with sunglasses on, only being able to wear a particular pair of trainers to drive and the worst was having to drive without music on. I missed interviews for placements because I couldn’t drive there and ended up taking the train for most of my travels as I couldn’t bring myself to overcome the irrational thoughts that outweighed all of the rational thoughts in my head.

Eventually, the sleepless nights got me, I visited my GP, who I have to admit wasn’t overly helpful, who prescribed me sleeping tablets and gave me a leaflet to self-refer to a 2-year long waiting list for CBT. I tried the tablets a few times but funny enough sleeping tablets give you long-lasting drowsiness meaning I wasn’t able to drive, clearly not very helpful. Next, I tried the university wellbeing and counselling service and thankfully, as I was there over summer and most students had gone home, they fitted me in with a counsellor in good time.

In my first session I explained everything to her; about the crash, about how before every drive I would cry, shake and almost vomit. During my sessions, my counsellor and I spoke about things I had never said out loud, feelings I didn’t know existed. I came out of each session in floods of tears but for a reason, I couldn’t quite put my finger on. In time I came to realise driving wasn’t the issue, a combination of all the shit (pardon my french) I had to deal with during my problems within my university house, as well as things from my past has effected my self-belief and made me doubt myself, and the crash from before must have been the cherry on top for a recipe of self-guilt and anxiousness.  She helped me block out flashbacks – yes I was hypnotised – and taught me methods of relaxation including mindfulness to help connect my rational thought process back to my brain as clearly that has taken a backseat.

My biggest memory of that summer is the day I had my interview for my current placement. It was the only interview I had been offered and was pretty much my last chance- no pressure, right? I remember scrutinising the route to the hospital in which I was interviewed on google maps, following it road by road so nothing could surprise me, but this didn’t stop me from spending all night imagining awful things and ultimately working myself up into a frenzy. I found myself at 6am vomiting in the toilet and telling my family I would have to cancel the interview. Some part of me must have known how stupid that was because I got up and did the most me thing I could in that situation… I made myself a cuppa and put on a face of makeup, they say fake it to you make it. I held my breathe and I got in the car and drove to the interview, even giving another candiatate a lift. Was it a bad journey? No. Did antyhing bad happen? No, of course not.

Fortunately for me, I must have done something right and that same day I was offered the placement in the department I wanted. I continued going to as many counselling sessions as time allowed (in such a busy university you are only allocated a certain amount of sessions) up until it was time for me to start my year-long placement. Now to present Tamsin, Hi. So I’ve driven every single day give or take to my placement, the “big scary A roads” that filled me with pictures of my own death before are my daily commute, I don’t wear sunglasses and I haven’t cried whilst driving for about 2 months, which to me is a damn good improvement- do you know how hard it is to drive whilst you’re crying? I blast The greatest Showman track and sing along at the top of my lungs and can say I genuinely enjoy my trip to work each day minus having to sit in traffic. I still have bad days if I see car crashes in the news etc, and following the recent bad weather which caused me to get stuck halfway up a hill, I can say I’m still not prepared for every event possible but I’m OK with it,  I’ve admittedly accepted lifts when I could have driven a few times but in general I am fairly happy to drive. For those who know me, not everybody was/is aware of the extent of my “problems” as I have called them – (god forbid if I was too self -diagnose) but for those who have been there, I appreciate it. Anybody that knows me would say I am far from an anxious person, I am a social extrovert who thrives around other people (if I do say so myself), definitely not your stereotypical “anxious person” but mental health is such a complex thing and it’s so easy to lose yourself in a completely different irrational world no matter what personality you are.

I have kept mental notes of all the things I have achieved in the past 365 days, driving myself home for Christmas in my own car was a huge achievement for me and something I couldn’t see me doing not so long ago. As I read back and correct my many spelling mistakes in this post I feel like crying, not out of sadness or embarrassment but happy in the fact that I’ve come this far and knowing that I have gained back the independence I almost gave up on.

For those who do suffer from anxiety out there, whether it be social or localised or PTSD related, get the help you need, speak the things you were afraid to say out loud because it does help.

T x

 

The (not so) good, the bad and the ugly..

The (not so) good, the bad and the ugly..

SO today’s post is something that you don’t really see talked about on blogs a lot….. COLD SORES. These little buggers aren’t on most people hot topics but can be the bane of some people’s lives.

They aren’t pretty, not only are they something you can’t really hide, they can actually be really uncomfortable. For those of you who have never had one (lucky you) you may not be aware of what they are, what causes them or be unsure whether to believe some of the myths you may have heard.

So the common cold sore is caused by the Herpes virus (not the strain you get down there) and can be caught very easily through contact with others who have a cold sore, including on towels etc.  and pretty much anybody can get infected. The virus stays in your body and can cause the cold sore if your immune system becomes compromised, even the simplest cold can trigger them. They can also be triggered by stress and things like the weather.

Post-face ruining scab, people can experience tingling and itchiness (which is worse because touching it only helps spread it), blisters break out and when they eventually burst it scabs over. This can turn into a horrible vicious cycle of scratching of the scab only for it to scab again, until eventually your skin heals. Symptoms can range from a couple of days to an ugly couple of  weeks.

My top tips:

  • The creams you can buy aren’t a gimmick, an amazing drug called acyclovir found in most creams such as Zovirax is involved in some amazing science (my fave thing)  to help treat the outbreak however are pretty much only effective pre-scabbing stage. Other creams like toothpaste can be used during the blister as it helps to dry them out (similar to when you use it for spots)
  • Try not to let it make you feel too self-conscious! Ignorant people who may stare or ask you what is, purely because they don’t understand. Just as a person can’t help getting spots, a cold sore is only a temporary inconvenience that you can’t prevent.
  • Try not to cover it. Whacking loads of concealer on top of a cold sore can be so tempting but honestly leaving it exposed will help it heal so much better plus if you use makeup brushes or sponges with foundation/concealer you may spread the cold sore further.
  • Treating a cold sore early is vital. I’ve heard from so many people to apply a cold wet tea bag as soon as you feel a tingling (not sure why this helps) but I’ve done it before and it was a miracle. Give it a try next time!
  • Be mindful of others. As you’d expect kissing is kind of off the cards for a while, but you have to be mindful of other things like sharing straws, towels and bedding.

 

T x

Things I’ve learnt since joining the gym

Things I’ve learnt since joining the gym

Hey everyone,

For those of you who know me or have read my I’m Not Fat blog post you’d know I am a massive novice  at this “gym” thing. I joined in September but have been working a  lot harder more recently as I prepare for my 7 day hike hahahaha help me along the Great Wall of China, plus i love the general satisfaction in trying to look and feel fab. My relationship with the gym has been as on and off as Robin and Ted from How I Met Your Mother (PS NO SPOILERS I’M ON THE LAST SERIES), but I finally am getting in the rhythm of things, with lots of help from my sporty house mates (shout out to Ben, Grandad and Chris!) and the lovely gym, Fit4less in Hatfield (best staff around!). There are many things I have learnt along the way, here are a few:

  1. Gym clothes are hella cute. As my weekly attendance at the gym increases , so does my cute gym attire collection (naturally) and living next to a Nike Outlet store really giphy.gifisn’t helping. I mean, 6 different coloured sports bras (with matching leggings) are a NECESSITY, right?
  2. It doesn’t matter how silly you look in the gym (there’s probably someone looking sillier). I have experienced falling off the treadmill…I was mortified but then I looked around and nobody had even noticed.
  3. Not only is it physically rewarding, but the Bounts app that I have recently found, gives you points for checking in at the gym and when you complete a certain amount of steps/ exercises a day. Points means prizes (in the form of high street vouchers) and I am a sucker for free stuff. Another gym trip anyone?
  4. Quality over quantity. Over the past few weeks I have had to learn a lot of things, particularly for things like squatting (there’s a lot more to it than you think)- back position , leg angels  angles, not everybody gets it right. In fact, a lot of the big bulky scary men you may see in gym probably haven’t  perfected some of the techniques and may be putting unnecessary strain on other parts of the body. Knowing that you are using your body properly, even if it isn’t the deepest/fastest/strongest, is important.
  5. Nobody has to know what your motivation music consists of. My power playlist consists of some classic Kesha, Bon Jovi and the Pussycat dolls. Just remember to resist singing out loud.
  6. Selfies to track your progress are great for motivation but maybe when you get home. There is nothing more awkward than spotting someone taking selfies in the gym mirrors.
  7. You will hurt. The day after leg day, you WILL walk like a duck.. but in a good way. Pain in muscles is a sign you’ve worked hard, even if you do have to take three a single day rest day afterwards.giphy.gif
  8. The world of fitness nutrition is massive and expensive, if you want to try things like Pre-work outs, or Protein shakes, do your research, there a lot of factors to consider such as when they should be consumed and their different affects. My overall opinion is that they all taste like dirt but can be helpful in helping to reach a goal.
  9. There is nothing worse than someone who cannot attend the gym without letting people know about it, work hard for yourself not your 5,000 500 Instagram followers. Plus seeing other people and their fab abs makes me insanely jealous , please stop and post some potato-resembling photos like the rest of us, thanks.

What’s your fitness faux pas?

T x

ASMR- a non-contact brain massage

ASMR- a non-contact brain massage

Hello all, I apologise for lack of posts this summer but I have just been super busy.Today’s post is about Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response, otherwise known as ASMR. Despite it’s scientific name, it is actually a phenomenon based on tingles, a sensation felt in the peripheral senses in the head or back, in response to a stimulus which can be sound, touch or visual. If you’ve ever used a head massager and experienced a “brain orgasm” (as it was known as before it had a scientific name) you may have experienced ASMR.

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My favourite ASMRer Fairy Char ASMR

I came across ASMR on youtube as I looked for makeup tutorals online (something I find myself doing more often than I would like to admit) and clicked on one with ASMR in the title. At first I was confused by the soft speech of the youtuber and just thought it was a quiet microphone but as I watched I felt very relaxed and realised for many years I had watched tutorials of woman applying make up not only for the cosmetic knowledge (although I have picked up a lot throughout the years) but I was relaxed by the woman’s voices and the thought of somebody applying make-up to my face (something which I have always found extremely relaxing).As I began to click through ASMR videos and believe me when I say there are hundreds, I realised this was something I would benefit from. Since then, when I am particularly stressed or struggle to sleep, I put my earphones in and fall asleep to one of the videos.

The videos across the internet vary in theme largely with many being based on roleplay eg visiting a spa or having an ear test. By basing the scenarios in everyday situations the videos aim to relieve anxiety should an anxiety sufferer come across these situations but personally I like the spa/makeup ones.

Although, as can be seen by the view count on the videos that is an upcoming phenomenon that is becoming more and more popular, ASMR has no scientific proof but has been used for relaxation techniques for many sufferers of panic attacks and anxiety.

Have a watch of some of the videos and let me know what you think,

T x

I am not fat. The start of my fitness journey

I am not fat. The start of my fitness journey

A bit about me

I am not fat… In fact ever since I can remember I’ve been the “skinny girl”. I’d be the girl that mothers would tell ” you need to eat a few cheeseburgers girl” (BTW if you ever tell people things like that please don’t, it’s just as offensive as calling somebody fat.) I believe there is a misconception in society that skinny is healthy… but I am living proof that this is not true.

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The infamous chicken legs

It’s never been a problem, nobody really notices if your school trousers are a bit baggy, but since hitting my teen years it has becomes noticeable, mostly in my health and general body type, my chicken legs have always been my most hated body part.Because of my stature I’ve never been a sporty type. If people were to see a skinny girl in a gym they assume she wants to lose weight and may have some sort of body image problem. I’ve even had professionals tell me that I was anorexic due to my BMI, which I am far from, infact most people would agree that I eat more than the average person( I mostly put this down to my high basal metabolic rate). Just this week alone I have eaten out 4 times.. Lucky I know .. but these included Macdonalds, Mexican food, Chinese and a dirty hungover fry up…and now I feel rubbish and groggy.

I don’t mind how I look, obviously I can be considered lucky to be how I am when others struggle to lose weight and hate their body but recently I have been feeling pretty low about my fitness which is pretty much non-existent- my therapist flatmates are shocked by how little muscle tone I actually have. Most of my friend do at least one sport and I am pretty much the lazy one which is a funny joke for a while but when I look back is pretty bad. Recently I realised how my bad lifestyle has affected my health, I feel sluggish and lack energy pretty much all the time and my fitness is beyond shocking ( we are talking asthma attack if I run up the stairs bad!).

For years I have excused my lack of exercise with my fears of being judged, my asthma and my joints ( I have hyper-mobile ankles which can be really painful when I attempt to run) but now, as I reach crucial stages of my life (eg becoming independent at Uni) it’s time to accept the fact that these are excuses and I am infact just lazy.

I am planning to try and make some small improvements to help me take my first steps to being a healthier and happier me by setting  myself some weekly goals.

My goals for this week are to:

  1. research some local pay as you go fitness sessions
  2. NOT eat in another restaurant
  3. try and eat my 5 a day
  4. No crisps 😦

If anybody is reading this ( if not, hi future me and thanks for being my only reader) feel free to join me on this new journey and let me know if you have any good tips for easy at-home exercises for muscle tonality and some healthy easy-to-make lunch choices?

T x