The bit in-between Christmas and New Year…

Hey everyone,

How was your Christmas?

For me, it was exhausting and non-stop!

There’s always a big build up to Christmas and everyone rushes around panicking about the decorations, presents, and food. Then within 48 hours of Christmas Day and Boxing Day, it’s all over. Why do we feel the need to put so much effort into the “big” day? It’s become so commercialised that the Christmas Spirit starts to fade throughout September as Christmas hits the shops… Some as early as August! There’s hype about the latest gifts and gadgets to have, but why? Why be so materialistic? Whatever happened to spending time with one another and just enjoying each others company and playing board games? Nowadays we spend so much of our time glued to our phones or tablets that we forget to look up and embrace what’s really going on around us.

Have you ever done that? Look up, I mean?

This year, I decided that I’d limit my Facebook usage, all my social media in fact, and eventually delete my FB account. I planned to delete it on the 27th December, just so those people who might just want to wish me a merry christmas could. Except, I was expecting, so I didn’t get the wishes, and I removed the account on Boxing Day, and boy did it feel good!

I’ll admit, I do still have a FB account, but this time it is only for my family and very close friends, of whom the majority know me best through therapy. My friends list went from 128 to 28. It’s not about quantity, it’s about quality, as they say. I’d given people the chance to note down my mobile and email and add me to Twitter, during the time I’d given before closing my account – and no-one added me, or text me. I received one email – 1, out of the 128 people, minus the 28 on my new account, so 1 out of the 100, making 99 people who don’t need or want me in their life. I think what was the nicest thing, was that the email was from a friend I’ve met online. And not just to say hi, but to say they wanted to remain friends with me and send me a belated christmas gift. We live in different countries and it feels good to have a connection with someone who actually wants to hold onto the friendship. I want to get to know them more too so hopefully in time this will happen!

Christmas was different this year, not just because I was able to spend time off of social networking, but because I spent Christmas Day with my wife’s family and not with mine. It was the first time in my 28 young years, that this has happened. It was also the first time where my family were all over the place instead of celebrating together. Okay, usually there’s one or two people missing but there was a time when we’d all come together for Christmas. It was different because I felt as though we were sharing an “adult” Christmas. It lacked the childhood “Christmas Spirit”, the cosy fireplace, trashy Christmas TV and drunken relatives. We didn’t stop to watch Dr Who either! Still, it was nice. All of the above wasn’t needed to have a nice day. We’d all spent time together as a family. As you get older things change, and I need to learn to adapt to change. Of course, it did have its difficulties. It wouldn’t be Christmas without it! On Boxing Day with my family, there was a point where my wife said to me that I was getting defensive and asked if I wanted to go home. I see my behaviour hadn’t really changed!

Christmas has been and gone and now we’re in the period between Christmas and New Year, where we now stress about where we’re going to be when the clock strikes midnight New Years Day, to cheer and welcome in 2016… How I currently feel is, I’d like to be in bed. Asleep. But I know that’s unlikely. Last year was the first time my wife and I had been alone for New Year, and my Mum popped over about 1am to wish us a good one! This year, we could spend it together, perhaps. Or we could all be alone. It’s a tough one because you never want to hurt peoples feelings and yet, the New Year is welcome in for at least the first 2 weeks of January whilst we all adapt to writing 2016 on everything and not mistaking the 6 for a 5.

In these next few days we all seem lost. We have allowed ourselves to binge-eat, gorge on chocolate and biscuits, mince pies and figgy pudding. We’ve overdone it on the alcohol and know that in a few days time we’ll have forgotten the hangover it caused and do it all over again, minus the pud. We start to think about our resolutions and what we’re going to do differently in the new year. For some, we’ve already started to make changes.

What are your resolutions or have you started to make changes in your life to hopefully have a better year?

I have.

Our fridge, freezer and cupboard are filled with healthy produce, eagerly waiting to be used in our nutri-bullet. I aim on living a healthier lifestyle, alongside my gluten free veggie food. I aim to cut out the chocolate, biscuits and crisps. Lessen the cheese too. I’d thought about trying veganism, but I wouldn’t be allowed peanut butter…

I also plan on drinking more water. My resolution will be to have a glass of water in the morning and at night, and not just cups of tea all day.

I plan on limiting use on social media – which I’ve already started to take action. I’ll also attempt to upload a blog at least once or twice a week here. I’ll share with you my creative writing as well as share my nonsense thoughts and feelings.

In 2016, I will endeavour to complete the course I’ve had since 2013, and also start and complete another so that by the end of 2016 I will be able to work with Animal-Assisted Therapy… I’ll share my journey on here too.

I also aim to focus on the positives. It will be a tough one, but I have lots of things to look forward to in the new year, and I want to make sure I not only get better mentally, but I feel better physically too. With chronic pain being soul part of my life, it gets in the way of a lot… But I am determined this coming year to not let it beat me.

I’m going to end this post with an image I found online…

 

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As I stated on my new profile…

“The only way to make it amazing is to believe it to be amazing and make it happen!”

Let’s do this together. Let’s make 2016 amazing!

All the very best,

Erica

 

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Change

Hey everyone,

With so much to write about, I feel I need to start with “Change”, because everyone around me has been talking to me about it.

After several years in different forms of therapy, you’d think you’d notice if you’d changed in any way. For me, it appears not. But for those who know me – I have changed. And for the better it seems.

A few weeks ago now, a relative of my wife took me to the side to say ho much I’ve “bloomed” over the past year. I’m less negative and look healthy and that there’s something different about me. Although I took it as a compliment, and although I wished it upon myself to be better, it made me realise how much of a mask I wear.

I’ve discussed masks before, but this is one which I must wear so well, or lack so much self-confidence that I cannot see the positive changes in me. I have so much lack of self-esteem that I don’t feel as though I have grown and developed my personal skills. Maybe me seeking perfection and having such high expectations is something which prevents me from seeing the growth. After all, the highest achievement in my studies is the distinction grade and I’ve already met that twice in this course, and received a triple distinction grade at a higher lever, so why is it I always feelI could do more? Why is it I feel that I’m lacking something?

Some days I feel a boost of positivity, but they’re brief boosts… They last seconds. Minutes, if I’m lucky.  Funnily enough, that happened this morning. I don’t know if it’s because I’m so exhausted I ended up slightly manic, but I realised that I need to focus on the positives to feel and get better, and I was sure that it would be 2016 which would bring me that. Suddenly I’m not so sure. I seem to be the only one doubting myself, even still!

I had a meeting with my Care Coordinator who has seen me for over 4 years now. She says that she believes I have improved. So why is it that my thoughts are so negative from one minute to the next? I still struggle on a daily basis with getting about, emotionally and physically. I feel like a child, my anxiety sends me into silence or into a chaotic word frenzy where I can’t shut the hell up when I should. Much like the other day, where I was so incredibly anxious and was completely inappropriate with everything I was saying, and didn’t think about the consequences it may have in the near future, nor the feelings of my friends whose information I shared. (I must note here: It was meant as a laugh as it was about me and my friends to do with “boundaries”, and I didn’t think about how they may feel without sharing what we’d done. So now I feel like a terrible friend.. There’s nothing new there!) Or, where the silence hits, whilst Christmas shopping and I’m like a child handing over their pocket money unsure of the right amount!

Change… Not money… But change in personal development. What is it to you? If you’ve had therapy, have you noticed a change in yourself?

For me, I haven’t noticed much of a change – If anything, it’s made me wish I’d been more honest from the very beginning about my thoughts and feelings instead of feeling ashamed of them because at the end of the day these thoughts they are a mental illness, they are not my own, and I need to be able to talk about them to retrain my thoughts and learn that it’s okay and that I will be okay.  <- That probably makes no sense at all…

I hope to write more in the new year, I am sorry that the past month or so has dwindled in posts. There’s been a few things getting in the way, but I am going to make sure I dedicate time for myself to write things up in the new year. I need this space, y’know?

I’m ending this here for now.. I’ll be back soon with another message…

Speak soon!

Erica

Mess and Love

Hi everyone!

This time of year is always so busy. My head is full of mess and yet I’m getting on with things.

I’ve been having to deal with going through my PIP form, of which I had for at least a week, and only opened yesterday to try and fill in, after going through the questions with my Wife, who wrote the answers on a separate bit of paper. You’d have thought it’d be easy, but I freeze at forms, and lose my mind with spelling, and get stressed out at mistakes I make. It’s better for someone else to do things like that for me!
I’ve also had to spend time with a benefits adviser who has assisted me with my ESA mandatory appeal. It’s all fallen before Christmas which means it’s extra stress which really isn’t needed.

Still, there’s something to look forward to on these cold, dark, dreary winter days… My Wife and I got married in the winter, and yes… We have just celebrated our first wedding anniversary! We’ve been together for 9 years now, and married for 1. Such an achievement for someone with erratic behaviour, and a tendency to push people away and fail at relationships! I think it goes to show that living with a personality disorder does not deny you of ever having a relationship, it is about finding someone who understands you and supports you. There have been many times where I have tried to push my Wife away but she’s stood by me. And even when we have had our problems, we have got through them and come out stronger.

Of course, most relationships have their problems, if there wasn’t anything wrong and everything was perfect then the relationship is unrealistic, surely? You need to have the occasional argument in order to make up, and everyone has a difference in opinion, so it is unlikely that you’d agree on everything in a relationship.

My Wife and I have our differences and we accept them. When we do “bicker”, we can usually resolve it within a matter of a few hours, rather than the days and weeks it used to take. Admittedly, it does rarely happen these days, but I think it is because my Wife understands me, and more or less puts up with me! I consider myself to be incredibly lucky, and I have no idea what I’ve done to deserve her!

So, what did we do to celebrate? Well, we cracked open a bottle of prosecco which had been in the fridge for a year waiting for us, with a label on it saying not to open until the date! I also presented my Wife with a ring to wear against her wedding ring as her engagement ring didn’t match and she wanted something to sit alongside it. I didn’t just present it to her though, I took her to the woods we visited on our wedding day for a mini-photoshoot! It was very cold, and we briefly visited it. Let’s just say we were very lucky last year with the weather!

We also went to the cinema to watch ‘Carol’, based on a lesbian relationship in 1950s, which in that era has complicated and unfortunate consequences. It was very moving, a bit slow, but still quite powerful with the way they looked at each other.

Oh, just to change the subject now… I have had my result back for the second unit of my course – I got a Distinction! I read the result after my meeting with my Care Coordinator. I’d typically discussed with her that I’d be expecting my result, but didn’t check my emails until I got back to the car, and instead screeched alone in the car with a little jump for joy in the car seat! (Probably best that I was on my own!) This means I’m now almost half way… As soon as unit 3 is completed I’ll be half way there to completion!

Due to finances, I have been making things for Christmas. Lots of pyrography… And I’ve still lots to do! It’s crazy. I really want to be posting here more, as I get a lot of thoughts when I need to discuss, but the time at the moment is nil. I barely have any time to spare.

I do want to write about change next, as in… How mental illness and physical illness can affect you… In a matter of months and years.
It’s only because I have had a couple of comments about how I am now which has left me thinking about “recovery” or “denial”… I hope you’ll stay with me until I write that piece.

I hope that you’re able to enjoy the holidays at this time of year. It is difficult for most of us, but please know that you’re not alone!

Take care, and I’ll be back soon!

Erica

It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year… Or is it?

Hey everyone,

Here I am again with another one of my ramblings.

I mean to write more, but usually the best posts come just as I’m trying to get to sleep and I think of all the things I could say, and by the morning, it’s all changed again. Then, during the day it’s finding time to write, or sometimes just find the motivation.

I’m here today, despite my head being in pain, because I feel a need to catch up on a few things…

ESA – PIP/DLA – LIFE

ESA – Well, what can I say about this without getting irate? A few days ago, I had a visitor from the local council, a benefits advisor – who would be able to assist me on my claim. I don’t think she was prepared for what I’ve been going through, and was with me for longer than intended as she took all the necessary information needed.
To cut the long story short for those who haven’t read any of my posts before now, I’ve been on ESA since last July (2014), however, instead of getting an assessment within the first 13-weeks of a claim to be placed in an appropriate group, I was left waiting for a year and a half (Not to mention the times before, where all 4 appointments they cancelled!) I had my assessment, which was pretty pathetic, more like the doctor dictating to me what I have and me agreeing or disagreeing than me being able to explain in full exactly how my illnesses affect me on a daily basis….
So, of course – 5 weeks after the assessment, it was no surprise that they’d placed me in the work related group. It didn’t stop me from bursting into tears and having a panic about the loss of income I’ve had since July this year where my benefits stopped.
You see, there are 2 types of Work Related based ESA, one is income related (earn under £X income/partners income), the other contributions based (only 365days)…
This meant I was only entitled to the contributions based, and no-one had told me that I’d need to apply for something else when it did end in July, because – well, we didn’t know it would come to an end as I had yet to be placed in a group.
Now, I know and those around me know that I should be placed in the Support group, I should have also received enough points to get me into that group – had the woman doctor not lied on my assessment form.
Yes, I have asked for a copy of it, and read through… It’s laughable, but also so distressing. It has caused so much stress, and then it angers me when it shows they don’t listen to you. She had not asked me at all about my personality disorder, and with a couple of major things on the form she marked them as NO. I just wanted to cry in frustration because what was written was so true for me, and she’d simply put no, yet hadn’t even asked me about it! Joke. Absolute joke!
So, to sum this up now – I am having to appeal, do the mandatory decision first, which no doubt they will ignore, then it’ll have to go to court, which I’m not looking forward to.
For those of you on ESA or going through this torment of sorting it out, please ensure you have professional help with the process because much of this I have done on my own, and I wouldn’t wish this struggle on anyone. It is only now that I am getting the help as my care co-ordinator referred me, after I accepted help when it was offered. If I don’t know it is there, I won’t ask. So, I advise you all to ask if there is support in your area to help you. We are all struggling with this, and it only makes health situation worse.

PIP – So, you’d think after that, no income after 6 months things would get better? Well actually, no. The same week of finding out what group I’d been placed into – I received a letter regarding my DLA. Eurgh. Yes, part of the government changes to disability benefits means the end of DLA and hello PIP. The letter stated my DLA would be ending soon (I have a letter stating it doesn’t end until next April), and would stop if I didn’t apply for PIP. So, of course I’m on the phone to them to apply… They send out a form for me to fill in, and I’ve received it today. It’s no form. It’s a book! 40 pages long! I have to fill in all the information, the same as what I had to do to receive DLA and send it back to them asap. Fortunately, I will also be getting help with this form. I cannot fill them in at all. I’m one of these people who won’t turn the page. I also find it hard to answer questions clearly. You might think that with all this writing, I’d be able to find words to an answer – Unfortunately not. I just freeze. My brain goes foggy and I’m filled with anxiety. I wait for the moment I make a mistake on the page and it’s the only copy I’ve got. No, no, no. It’ll sit there until I can look at it with someone else!

LIFE – As you can see, you may have figured that my financial situation isn’t the best for this time of year. That’s right everyone, Christmas is cancelled!
Except, it doesn’t have to be! Does it? I am trying to find some optimism, and thinking of alternative presents. After all, I have my crafting which takes a lot of time, but it’s also a more generous thought. It’s just working out what to do and also, how… and when!?
December is a busy time of year for everyone… For me and my Wife, we’ve got our anniversary coming up. It’ll be 9 years together and our first as a married couple. She has a couple of days off, but I doubt we’ll be doing anything. All the while she’s working and earning an income, the majority goes on bills. And what with Christmas round the corner, it’s going to be a tough one! I am hoping that us just being together will be enough – after all, it should be!
I’m trying not to think too much about Christmas. There’s lots to sort out and it’s always a nightmare, a stressful time of year. It makes me hate christmas adverts, as I feel so resentful of how commercialised the “perfect” family get togethers are like, and having created an idealistic view for us all, and when you have a mental health issue, it becomes something of a wish, a dream, something to focus on. It distorts reality because that is not what life is like! Is it?!
Aside from Christmas, I think I last posted about my friends. I’ve currently lost two of my best friends due to a disagreement/discussion on social media. Even though I suggested meeting up, the option seemed unavailable. Such a shame. Still, I have moved on from it and have been focusing on the present and what I do have around me. I’d made a new profile for my closest friends and family, and spent less time on the old account. I haven’t really been on the new account either. It means I’ve spent time with my pets, my Wife (haha), and actually living. It’s amazing what you can achieve and feel like when technology is not glued at the hand! I’m definitely going to continue making steps to become more distant to social media, so if this blog is anything go by, you may start to see less and less of me, (though I hope not, I need this space to clear my head of thoughts, until the next lot flood back in!)
I’ve been thinking a lot about friendships actually, and earlier today sent a message to an old friend about our relationship, questioning about how I approached it. I feel as though I know nothing about them, but they know all about me. That shouldn’t be the case, should it? I’m not too sure. I have a habit of going into things too much, I can find my voice sometimes, but often it is probably rather inappropriate. Not the content, but me actually talking about certain things to people. Not the whole world needs to know these things…. Oh wait. *giggles*
I’ve also been thinking about my health, but that’s no surprise there with all these forms and assessments. I had my first appointment at Acupuncture today. My GP referred me. It’ll be interesting to see if it benefits me. Apart from the needles being painful, I felt very tired after the session. Though, that could be down to my brain unable to switch off.
I’ve also been thinking about the future, and what if any, achievements I’ve made to “go on” in life. I may have been able ti work, but now how can I face it? I want to work part-time, but even that might be too much. I would end up freelancing I’d like to think but then building a reputation is so difficult, especially if you’re anxious about meeting new people on your own.
Oh, I’ve just noticed the amount of words in this post, so if you’re still here – Thanks for reading! I am glad I haven’t bored you to death…
I’m going to leave it here, with one more thing… Last Friday, I sent off my second assignment for my course. I’m waiting on the result now. I’ll let you know as soon as it comes in! Fingers crossed, eh?!

Keep well everyone, more ramblings soon!

Erica x