Mental Health Musings: How to cope when you feel the world is on your shoulders

Let’s get something straight right away. There is definitely a part of me that is writing this post for myself. Because more and more frequently, I am experiencing the crushing pressure of LIFE and I need to get better at dealing with it. I am by no means perfect and indeed, I find it difficult to take some of the advice I’m dishing out in this post. But hopefully, having all of these tips in one easily-accessible place will remind me that I’m capable of more than I think. And hopefully, the same will go for you!

A small disclaimer before we begin: while I do have a degree in psychology and I am currently studying for my counselling diploma, please do not take my words as gospel. I am more than happy to talk to anyone who wants to reach out to me but please don’t use me as a replacement for your GP ❤

coping when life gets on top of you


Say ‘no’ to things

say no.gif

Getting my most hypocritical advice out of the way first. I absolutely SUCK at saying no. I have been a people-pleaser for as long as I can remember and I will consistently put other people’s needs before my own. I’m starting to realise that this is not healthy and that I can’t help other people if I don’t take care of myself. Sometimes you just have to say no to that blog tour, no to that overtime, no to that social obligation. We are not machines; there is a limit to how much of ourselves we can give. It is so important to make time for yourself (and not feel guilty about it!!)


Make lists

to do list.gif

If, like me, saying no to things doesn’t come easily for you, then make sure you keep yourself organised. I could not function without my daily to-do lists. In fact, I’m so extra that I now have multiple lists for different categories (blogging, studying, adulting, etc.) Sometimes, I can feel totally overwhelmed by everything I need to do and if I don’t get it out of my head and onto paper, I feel like I will explode. I usually make a list before bed of everything I need to do the following day (choosing high priority items from each of the wider category lists). It helps me the following morning to have my tasks already written out in front of me.


Break it down

break it down.gif

As I just mentioned, my to-do lists are these days separated into different categories. However, there are times when this can work against me; seeing EVERYTHING written down in this way can panic me if I’m not having a mentally strong day. When these feelings hit, I try to focus on small steps at a time. Yes, my to-do list may say that I have an essay to write but I might break that down further and say that all I’m going to focus on for now is writing the introduction. I might have 10 book reviews to write but today I’m only going to focus on writing one. Taking things in smaller chunks can make them a little more bearable. And this advice doesn’t just apply to the lists but to life in general. If it makes you anxious to think of everything you’ve got to do in a week, change the way you think about it! Just take it a day at a time. Or an hour at a time if you need to go even smaller. Looking at the big picture can be overwhelming and you don’t need to scare yourself with it unnecessarily.


Take care of your body

goldblum sleep.gif

If your mind is in turmoil, then try to care for your body instead. Be kind to yourself – I’m not suggesting you go for a 4-mile run or book a full-body massage (unless you’re up to that, in which case go for it!) I know I certainly couldn’t face anything like that on days when even getting out of bed is a struggle. You need to be gentle with yourself. Get the rest you need, even if that means sleeping later in the morning or having an afternoon nap. (Again, this is something I struggle with as I always feel like sleeping is not a productive use of my time. But it is so important! Sleep is when the body repairs itself and if you are physically rested, your mind will be in a better position to face the challenges of the day). Try to drink plenty of water and eat little and often. Make sure you take your medication. Brush your teeth, have a shower or a bath. And try to get some natural light if you can.


Talk to someone

talk to dean.gif

It is so important to tell someone how you are feeling. Going back to the people-pleasing, I will very often bottle up my emotions and keep them locked away inside because I feel like people will be upset if I tell them the truth and I don’t want to be that burden on them. But if you aren’t honest with people about what you’re feeling, then they can’t help you to get through it. You will have to continue pushing through alone. And trust me, that’s hard. If you have the courage to tell one person, then that one person may be able to lighten the load for you in ways you wouldn’t have imagined; they may offer you advice that you never would have thought of by yourself or they could brighten your day unexpectedly by sending a message to check how you are. The more people you let in, the more support you have to fall back on.



I hope these tips can help some of you if you feel like you are struggling. The main point I want you to take away is that you don’t have to be on top of things all the time – you are allowed to rest! I’m hoping that by writing this post I’ll have got the message through to my own brain as well.

There may be times when you feel you can’t cope with everything life is throwing at you, but know that it will eventually pass and just try to be gentle with yourself while you go through it all. You are not alone and you can survive this. signature (2)

‘Let’s Call It A Doomsday’ spoiler-free review!

Let’s Call It A Doomsday released last month and I can tell you now that it’s going to make my top ten books of the year. A big thank you to Harper 360 for sending me an ARC! Let’s see what I loved about this one, shall we?

let's call it a doomsday.png


synopsis

There are so many ways the world could end. There could be a fire. A catastrophic flood. A super eruption that spews lakes of lava. Ellis Kimball has made note of all possible scenarios, and she is prepared for each one. What she doesn’t expect is meeting Hannah Marks in her therapist’s waiting room. Hannah calls their meeting fate. After all, Ellis is scared about the end of the world; Hannah knows when it’s going to happen.

Despite Ellis’s anxiety — about what others think of her, about what she’s doing wrong, about the safety of her loved ones — the two girls become fast friends. As Ellis tries to help Hannah decipher the details of her doomsday premonition, she learns there are secrets Hannah isn’t telling her. But with time ticking down, the search for answers only raises more questions. When does it happen? Who will believe them? How do you prepare for the end of the world when it feels like your life is just getting started?


my thoughts

“I didn’t know why but I knew I needed you.”

First of all, this book has some of the best anxiety rep I’ve ever read. Only two pages in, I was absolutely certain that this was going to be a realistic and respectful portrayal. I thought Katie Henry did a great job of capturing the intrusive thoughts that come with anxiety; I always feel like people think I’m weird when I tell them about the little voice in my head that never shuts up so, I swear, I felt so SEEN by this book.

Ellis was a wonderful protagonist. Honestly, my heart ached for her so much. She was just such a real character, flawed and floundering a bit, and I wanted to shout through the pages that she wasn’t alone. I also love that she felt safest in the library (RELATE!)

Henry also did a great job of portraying how anxiety disorders can affect a whole family, not just the person suffering. I struggled with Ellis’ mum as a character because her reaction to her daughter’s anxiety was genuinely painful to read. I know exactly what it’s like to hear the kind of things she said to Ellis and it really fucking hurts. But I acknowledge that it can be difficult for a parent to understand and that they can struggle themselves with figuring out how best to help their children. The point I’m trying to make is that it was all VERY realistic.

In terms of the writing itself, I found the dialogue super realistic; the banter between the friends never felt forced. I also thought there was a nice, easy flow to the writing.

I have taken this book into my heart so completely. Seriously, anytime I wasn’t reading this one, I was thinking about it and it has stayed with me long after turning the last page. There were so many lines that spoke to me and the ending managed to be hopeful without falling into the trap of that miracle cure we so often see in these types of novels. I hope that anyone else who battles anxiety on a daily basis can find something to relate to in these pages.

lets call it a doomsday


What are some books that you’ve related to previously? I’d love for you to let me know in the comments! x
signature (2)

Mental Health Musings: Things Your Anxious Loved One Wants You To Know

Hey everyone 🙂 May is mental health awareness month and the irony is, I’ve been having a few mental health struggles of my own. This has prevented me from getting up the MH-related posts I had planned but I’ll hopefully still put them up at some point. My confidence is quite low these days so I’ve not been brave enough to start these kinds of discussions – but it’s something I’m trying to work on!

I often find it easier to put my feelings down in writing rather than speaking them out loud. It’s one of my biggest flaws, in that it can cause problems with family and friends when I keep things bottled up inside. So just in case any of you are the same, I wanted to compile a post that you might find useful for summing up your own struggles. You could even show this post to your loved ones in order to help them understand what you are going through ❤ It can also be really difficult to support someone with anxiety when you don’t know how they’re feeling, so I hope this post can help those of you in that position as well.

Anxiety is a tricky beast, often sneaking up on us at the most unexpected times. It can invade our minds for no reason we can see. It can wake us from sleep, clammy and shaking. It can hold off until we’re ready to leave the house and then cripple us. It can also present itself in ways you might not expect.

So without further ado, let’s look at some things your anxious loved one might want you to know…

things your anxious loved one wants you to know


Some days are better than others.

Starting with one that might seem obvious, but I think it’s important to remind people occasionally. Anxiety is a condition that has to be managed constantly and there are days when the energy to do so just isn’t there.  Any number of factors can contribute to having a bad day. When these happen, I just have to ride it out as best I can and hope that tomorrow will be better.

rami anxious.gif

 

There is no miracle ‘cure’.

As I just said, anxiety is something that has to be managed. It doesn’t go away. Even if I seem like I’ve been fine for days, weeks, even months, my anxiety can flare up at ANY time. Something that didn’t bother me yesterday could reduce me to tears tomorrow. I describe my anxiety as a series of waves, or peaks and troughs; sometimes the waves can be long and I can have a period of feeling great that seems like it will last forever. “Yes!” I think. “I’m better! My anxiety is gone!” Sadly, no. Something always happens to bring me back down. The best I can hope for is that my anxiety management skills will improve with each setback.

 

I need plenty of warning.

It can take me time to psyche myself up for things. When my anxiety was at its worst and I was becoming housebound with agoraphobia, I needed days and days of warning to prepare myself. I couldn’t do anything without being told well in advance. I planned everything to the tiniest detail. These days, I’m still a huge planner and I can’t function without my to-do lists, but if I’m having a good day I can cope more with unplanned happenings.

coffee anxiety.gif

 

If I could ‘snap out of it’, I would.

This is one of my pet peeves. Just because you can’t see my suffering does not make it any less real. And I don’t WANT to have anxiety! I hate that my brain imposes these limits on what I can do. I want to experience the things life has to offer, I want to travel and push myself out of my comfort zone. I am not wallowing. I am coping the best way I can with a debilitating mental health issue.

anxiety sick.gif

 

Sometimes when I seem moody or irritable, I’m actually anxious.

A lot of people don’t know that anxiety can actually present itself as irritability. There have been times when I’ve felt seriously grumpy and only realised later in the day that what I was actually feeling was anxiety. I then have the added guilt of having been short with people I love and the stress of having to try and make them understand that I’m not just a moody cow.

 

Anxiety can make me really quiet… or really loud.

My usual response to anxiety is to retreat into myself. But very occasionally, it’s like I go completely the opposite way and become this person I don’t even recognise. I can become silly and over-the-top in an attempt to compensate for the anxious little bean I am. But ultimately, I know that this isn’t me and I’m just left feeling embarrassed. I can only hope that other people realise that too.

anxious miranda.gif


Obviously, everyone’s experience of anxiety is different but these are some things that I have personally experienced and which can be difficult to talk about with other people. I hope, if any of you have had similar experiences, that this post helps you to feel a little less alone.

Also, I may have used some gifs throughout this post to try and lighten the mood a little but I am in no way making fun of this issue. I, of all people, know how seriously horrible anxiety can be. Even posting this is giving me anxiety! So please do reach out if you’d like to chat more about this topic ❤