So, there’s been a lot of tweets recently of people sharing their Amazon Wishlist’s for complete strangers to purchase items for them… I think it’s not just an incredibly kind and generous (no matter the price of the item) gesture, but it’s also illustrating the power and influence that material items can have on your mental wellbeing. I’ve been called ‘materialistic’ a number of times over the years and at first, I would argue against the label which seemed so offensive; and then I realized that the fact I appreciate material things and find that they benefit my mental health shouldn’t be an insult!

So, with that in mind; I’ve put together a little list of self-care products that I think could help you through the Coronavirus Lockdown…

At a time when so many people are feeling anxious and scared, sleep can be hard to come by. Anyone who knows me will know how much I love my sleep and my Mum always tells the story of when we were on a plane and they hit turbulence that was bad enough for the Pilot to put the fasten-your-seatbelt sign on and my Mum actually had to wake me up to do it! I realize how fortunate I am to be able to sleep so soundly the majority of the time because I know a lot of people struggle with this, but also because I’ve learnt how much my mental health struggles when I’m tired. It used to be even harder when I was experiencing hallucinations because I’d feel that I had no energy to fight their instructions to self-harm. I’d also struggle more if I was tired and having suicidal thoughts because I felt that I needed all my energy to commit to fighting the professionals who would try to stop me carrying out my plans to take my own life.

I chose this little Kit from ASOS because I honestly can’t sleep without a sleep mask and the one in here looks so comfy!

2.       Pixi Fast Flash Facial Kit £20

As much as I enjoy putting on my makeup, I also love taking it off after a long day and using all my skincare products because I find it so soothing and relaxing. In fact, I’ve been struggling with my mental health I’ll sometimes do my makeup purely for the satisfaction of taking it off! I’m not overly confident with my skin; I have big pores on my nose and cheeks and sometimes I get spots on my chin, but I try to look after it all the same!

When I was an inpatient in a psychiatric hospital for two and a half years, I really struggled to maintain healthy skin because I had a terrible diet (the hospital food wasn’t ever healthy!) and I was sectioned under the Mental Health Act so I didn’t get a lot of fresh air! We also weren’t allowed a lot of skincare products in our en-suite bathrooms because of the danger of people drinking them to self-harm or attempt suicide! At the time, the foundation I used was in a little glass tub so I was only allowed that if I was supervised with it and it wasn’t very often that staff were available and didn’t have bigger priorities than to sit and watch me do my makeup!

Pixi is quite a popular brand in the beauty world, I’ve never tried any of their products but this set is perfect because they’re all travel-size – not that anyone is going anywhere far at the minute(!) but it means that if the products aren’t great for you, you haven’t paid for a full-size product! Also, the packaging is so cute!

4.       Sherwood Faux Fur Throw £20

I think that ‘getting cosy’ is all about wearing comfortable clothes and having soft surroundings that you can snuggle in with your pets or loved ones; and this jumper from ASOS and throw from B&M are perfect for that!

The psychiatric inpatient beds aren’t the typical bed you may think of if I say ‘hospital bed’ but that doesn’t make them at all comfortable because the sponge mattress with its plastic covering make it really hot and sticky during a warm night. The hospital bedding is scratchy too so as soon as I realized that I wasn’t being discharged any time soon, I took in my own duvet and pillowcases. It was also like I said before about being materialistic; it helped me to feel comfortable in a bed that I spent a lot of time in. Even though it was a psychiatric ward and we had therapeutic groups during the day, there was always plenty of time spent in your room on the bed. It was scary to be so far away (I was over 100 miles away from home because it was the nearest hospital to accept my flight risk!) from everyone I knew so having simple comforts like my own duvet cover and a comfy pillow, actually really made a difference. There was a danger to this though, a lot of the other inpatients became institutionalized and that was probably partly facilitated by the fact that we’d made our bedrooms our own. Realistically though, with the hospital being long-term (the average admission was 12 – 18 months), we were basically living there and whilst I never called it my home, it was the address I had to use to register with a local GP and Dentist.

Spending so long in an environment where it was very hard to have lots of home comforts (some items were seen as a self-harm risk and weren’t allowed in our rooms), as soon as I moved into my own home in the community, I couldn’t wait to make it my own! As the years have gone by, I’ve really appreciated being able to re-decorate and buy new pieces of furniture and accessories so that it’s just how I want it. I think that having a homely home is that bit more important during this lockdown because everyone is spending so much time in their house!

I’ve had this little book on my Amazon Self-Care Wishlist for a while now so I thought I’d add it to this list because I think it’d make for a good distraction when you feel bored and are at a loss as to what to do next!

Since I was little I’ve enjoyed writing and would always write short stories about ponies and going horse riding (I used to ride a lot when I was younger) and my Mum and Nana would read all of them and I’d think it made me an Author! Then, when the abuse began when I was 15, I was so afraid that I’d end up pouring my heart out on paper and telling everyone what was happening to me, that I stopped writing outside of doing my School work.

It’s so unbelievable to think that I went from that, to now making a life out of my writing/blogging. To think that my writing has so many readers (I saw on Facebook memories that a year ago it had taken me six years to reach 500,000 readers and in the space of year I’ve reached almost another half of that!) from all over the world is so overwhelming that I sometimes have to pinch myself when new opportunities come along!

6.       Yankee Candle Clean Cotton Gift Set £24.99

I’ve only ever once had an hallucination of a scent (not sure on the proper term for that!) but once was plenty! It was just before I was being put on life support after taking an overdose, and in the midst of being restrained by about six different Doctors and Nurses, I smelt my abuser’s aftershave and saw red; and I mean to the point where they needed another four staff to hold me to the bed! I think that the biggest thing for me with the hallucination was the feeling that I couldn’t escape him. I mean, I was over 100 miles away from him in a hospital for God’s sake! And yet he was still right there with me. Still hurting me and leaving me preferring death over experiencing another day tied to him; because once someone does something like he did to me, your lives are forever tied together in some way. It doesn’t matter how well you cope with what was done and how you feel about it, whether that person is punished for hurting you or not, your lives well always have been entwined.

Learning to accept that I couldn’t change my past no matter how much I hurt myself in an attempt to eradicate my chance of a future, was difficult to say the least; and sometimes I still struggle to accept it! Over time though, I’ve learnt ways to cope better with upsetting situations and something I learnt from that one hallucinatory experience has been to always have a scent in the house, whether that’s through a candle, or a wax melt, or a oil diffuser, or just a plain old air freshener! I literally have an air freshener in every room purely so that if that aftershave smell ever were to return I could get rid of it quickly enough! So this huge gift set looks perfect for me!

So, the Niffler is my absolute favourite magical creature from the Harry Potter/Fantastic Beasts series; and I won’t lie, I do already have two Niffler mugs but it’s not like I’d never use a third one! It’s the perfect size for a nice, calming hot drink too!

I bet you’re thinking; ‘what the hell else could she possibly say about a mug?!’ I wouldn’t be much of a mental health Blogger if I couldn’t add a bit more to this, would I?! So, in a psychiatric hospital it’s very rare that you have your own cup unless it’s a long-term ward. On my short-term admissions I had to just keep one of the green plastic beakers in my room so that I knew I was the only one using it otherwise it’d end up with coffee stains (I only drink tea) or just go completely missing! On the long-term ward, each inpatient had their own mug and you could usually tell whose who’s by the pattern on the mug corresponding to someone’s likes or their personality!

So, it might sound silly but being in my own home means that I love having numerous cups just for me that have a pattern or quote or picture that I like or that I relate to! It’s like I said about having my home comforts and knowing that if I were to be readmitted to hospital, I would lose these little things that make me happy and grateful to be in the community.

I’ve always been quite creative and enjoyed arts and crafts activities. I took Textiles at GCSE because I enjoyed drawing and creating things so much, but my teacher was so critical – and not in a constructive way – that she really dissuaded me from continuing with that area of interest. In Hospital, though, as I began to recover with my mental health, I regained the confidence and passion for all things creative and started attending the therapeutic arts and crafts group and drawing in my bedroom. The Occupational Therapy staff saw my interest and thought me talented enough to be worthy of some arts materials and took me to a shop in the nearby town to buy some bits and pieces for me! It was such a welcome change to have my interest promoted and encouraged in such a generous and kind way that I was actually speechless with their positive feedback on my finished pieces of work.

When I first learned Mindfulness I thought that it purely meant sitting with your emotion and putting all of your focus on it and I was so scared that doing so, would make me even more unsafe and unwell that I became disruptive and rude whenever staff would attempt to promote the Dialectical Behaviour Therapy coping skill. In time, though, I realized that it didn’t have to mean concentrating on an emotion; it could be focusing all your attention on a positive activity and distraction. This is when I started doing Adult Colouring Books and discovered that my favourite ones were of animals so when I saw this book on Amazon I thought it’d be perfect for me to both be creative and practice Mindfulness.

This one, is something I’m not going to manage to say a lot about… I chose it because we’re all washing our hands so much these days that a lot of people are having a problem with dry patches of skin so I thought that this Hand Cream would be an ideal way to combat that.

10.   Disney Plus £5.99 monthly or £59.99 yearly

I was honoured to collaborate with Disney Plus on a blog post a little while ago (you can read it here) where I talked about all my favourite quotes from my watchlist and explained how I can relate to each of them! So, the new app isn’t just about providing entertainment and a distraction from all the scary, negative news that’s on social media and the TV at the minute. It’s also about being able to watch something that makes you feel less alone. When you can relate to a movie – even if it’s just one song or one quote from it – it can leave you feeling understood and empathized.

There’s also the fact that most Disney movies are either comedies or child-friendly in some way so they make for a less stressful and intense watch!

I hope that this post has inspired you to think of different products that might help your mental health through the lockdown and Coronavirus Pandemic and realize that it doesn’t matter what you spend on them, if they help then it’s worth it!
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