Monday, 1 February 2021

THIRTY RANDOM THOUGHTS FOR MY THIRTIETH BIRTHDAY!



“To all the people who said I wouldn’t make it… you were wrong”

Starting this Birthday post the stereotypical way with: ‘I can’t believe’ I’m thirty years old! And ‘it feels like it’s gone so fast!’ But, enough of the cheese ball content, here are thirty random (and I mean RANDOM!) thoughts that I’ve had while thinking about my thirtieth Birthday…

 

1.    “But I don’t feel Thirty!”

I remember when I saw a Psychologist in the specialist hospital, and she wanted to teach me a skill on how to question detrimental beliefs e.g. ‘I don’t deserve help.’ I chose to work on my belief that I would die young because I felt that it was a huge motivator to my conviction that I should continue to make suicide attempts. That making those attempts, was my destiny and I was just fulfilling my purpose.

When I talked it through with the Psychologist, I found holes in my theory and creating a list of evidence that I was right, and reasons I was wrong, really helped to put things into perspective and recognise that this belief wasn’t of my own creation – it’d been caused by professionals telling me that I wouldn’t make it to my nineteenth Birthday, but they definitely hadn’t encouraged me to make it happen. I was encouraging myself. I had to take responsibility for how I had interpreted their words and for all the actions I took to make their prediction correct. It was that Psychologist who first said to me “instead of making them right, why don’t you prove them all wrong?”

Another contributing factor to me not feeling thirty was also born from a professional’s words. A psychiatrist told me that he believed when I disassociated during the abuse, I had separated some of my mind and trapped it at that age (fifteen). He told me this in order to explain why I was hallucinating, but I think it’s something that has stuck with me and left me believing that maybe a part of me will never really ‘grow up.’

I used to care about ‘acting my age’ because I received so many comments from professionals about how I should have ‘grown out of all this by now!’ As though the mere fact that it’s your Birthday is how you come to be in recovery! Now that I’m older, I see that whilst there seems to be a growth in responsibilities as you get older, it’s important that you allow yourself to really be yourself! I think that a huge help in me being able to channel some immature energy, has been with my godchildren. They’ve given me so many opportunities to really see the world through the refreshing eyes of a child.

 

2.    My Relationship with My Mum

There’s this bit in the TV series; Lost, where they begin time travelling and in order to cope with it, they have to find someone or something that was there for them in the different years they travel between. A Constant. My Mum is my constant.

Having grown up with my Mum as a single parent, I guess some people would assume I’ve missed out on some things that only happen when your Dad is in your life. That hasn’t been the case at all. I guess that’s partly due to that saying about not missing what you’ve never had; but also due to the fact that my Mum’s love has always been more than enough and – I’d imagine – the equivalent of two parents anyway! 


When the abuse was happening, there were so many reasons why I couldn’t, and didn’t, report it immediately. But that didn’t mean that I didn’t want to. I tried a huge amount of ways to tell everyone in my life what was happening to me without actually telling them, and do you know what? My Mum was the one person who checked I was ok and asked whether something was happening! All of my friends, and my abuser’s colleagues didn’t. Apparently when his colleagues were interviewed by the Police, they all said that whilst they hadn’t witnessed anything, they’d always suspected it. My anger at that was just… wow! I’m no longer uncontrollably angry about it because I’ve reached the conclusion that it’s something they’ll have to live with.

My Mum seeing through my change in behaviour and attitude really strengthened our relationship and I think that if I’d used that opportunity to tell her and report the abuse, everything else would have never happened. The hallucinations wouldn’t have started, my self-harm would have stopped, and I never would have attempted suicide. I guess I’ll always feel somewhat regretful for not taking that chance, but if I focus on all the positives that have come from my mental illness (particularly I’m NOT Disordered)… it lessens those regrets and makes what is left, more manageable. 


Having such a special and important relationship with my Mum meant that throughout my years in the throw of my mental illness, I’ve always had a cheerleader. Someone on my team who supported me fully and always believed in me and my potential. Someone who thought that I deserved a better life and that I was worthy of the help and support being offered to – and sometimes forced on – me. Sometimes this felt annoying and frustrating when all I wanted to do was die or at the very least, hurt myself. And I think that the biggest instances where my Mum fought for my life was after I ended up on life support following a suicide attempt in 2012. I was told that the mental health professionals had decided that once I was awake, I would be sent home with no further mental health support! My Mum fought so hard to have me admitted to a specialist psychiatric hospital after coming off life support; and it was that hospital which really helped me to turn my life around and begin recovering from my mental illness.

Now that I’m finally happy, free of hallucinations and urges to self-harm or attempt suicide, I could never be more grateful for her. If she hadn’t fought for me when I didn’t want to fight for myself, I don’t think I’d still be here. And I feel very privileged to still be alive.

 

3.    What I Had Wanted to Do for My Birthday

When I thought about it, I would have really liked to have had a party for my Birthday or to have at least gone for food with my best-friends and my Mum! Obviously, the UK lockdown guidelines and the social distancing regulations have meant neither of these hopes are possible!

I think a huge motivation for me wanting a party is that the event I hosted in 2015, to celebrate 100,000 readers on my blog, is still the greatest night of my life. Sometimes that’s kind of saddening to think that nothing better has happened over the last six years; but I think it also illustrates just how special that night was and that I don’t say things like that lightly.

The current state of the UK, all the deaths… Well, it’s left a lot of people – including me – very reluctant and hesitant in talking about any personal hardships at fear that others might deem them to be superficial, shallow, and petty. So, I’m not going to go as far as saying my birthday has been ‘ruined’ by the inability to celebrate it the way I had wanted, but I will say it’s been a big disappointment. I think another element of that has been the fact that my mental health is doing so well and is so stable, it has left me feeling as though it’s the first birthday in a long time where I’ve felt really capable of enjoying and appreciating it to the fullest. Over the last twelve years, I think that even when I haven’t been in a psychiatric hospital for my birthday, the auditory hallucinations I was experiencing were almost fully consuming my mind and leaving me with very little room to be myself and enjoy the day. 


The hallucinations – and my mental in general – meant that for most of those years, I wasn’t totally grateful that I’d made it through another year. Part of me was disappointed that any suicide attempts I’d made prior to that birthday, had been unsuccessful. I was also – and I hate to admit it – resentful of all the people and professionals who had saved my life over the year when I felt that I wasn’t worthy of their help or support. My birthdays honestly felt pointless because I thought I had no reason to celebrate…

Until now, of course! It’s kind of a mini version of something I was talking to one of my neighbours a little while ago about. The previous Chair of LEAPS (the support group for people who are unwaged and which I am now Chair of) and how he had finally been well enough to enrol at University and no longer need state benefits. Within months, he was diagnosed with terminal Bowel Cancer and died almost a year later (I wrote about it for LEAPS here). One of the saddest aspects to his death was the fact that it’d happened just as he had turned his life around… I finally feel appreciative and honoured to have made it to this birthday, and I can’t celebrate to a level that will reflect that joy.

 

4.    Do I Want Children?

This is something that has been on my mind since the abuse in 2006. From the very moment he first hurt me, I knew that if I survived the abuse and so long as it actually ended, I knew that I would never be able to do something where my first experience of it was labelled as a crime. At the age of fifteen (sixteen by the end of it), how could I properly process the notion that you could carry out the same act but that in one type of scenario it’d be considered a crime, and in others, it can be deemed to be rewarding?!

From the beginning of the abuse, I’ve felt awkward with anything and everything regarding sex and that’s built into a very huge reason not to ever have biological children. It isn’t just about having to have sex in order to create a child; it’s also the notion of having to have frequent physical examinations throughout the pregnancy.

Of course, being so young when the abuse began, there wasn’t a whole lot of pressure to have babies, it was more about sex. As I got older and was in a very long-term relationship, I think it meant that a lot of people just assumed I was still having sex, even though the truth was, it hadn’t happened since the rape. And when a friend questioned whether not sleeping with my boyfriend meant he wasn’t ‘The One,’ I was fairly convinced that it wasn’t about who I was with. It was about me and my experiences.

I wonder if my conviction that I will never have children would be somewhat easier to accept if I just outright didn’t want children at all, but I’m still uncertain on that one. At the moment, I can’t imagine being a Mum to anyone other than my cat and rabbit! And it’s something I’ve thought more about since one of my oldest best friends has announced that she’s pregnant. It isn’t that I’ve feel a pressure, just that it’s inspired me to think about the subject.

 

5.    Three Books I’ll Be Reading This Year 

Can You Hear Me? By Jake Jones

The Prison Doctor: Women Inside by Dr Amanda Brown

The Magpie Society: One for Sorrow by Zoe Sugg and Amy McCulloch

 

6.    My Mental Health Recovery

Since the six weeks after my anti-psychotic medication (Aripiprazole) was re-started – after the Pharmacy’s mistake – and then increased, I’ve not experienced a single hallucination. And that’s led to me having not self-harmed for over 150 days!

Since having Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) at a specialist psychiatric hospital, I’ve learnt so many coping skills that are really efficient in helping me when I struggle with memories of the abuse. This has meant the one thing left that was causing me to continue to self-harm or attempt suicide was the existence of the hallucinations.

All the DBT skills in the world don’t make a difference to the hallucinations; and I think it’s because they feel so separate to me. I mean, they seem to have their own personalities that can take up an amount of space in my head which pushes me and my thoughts, feelings, and opinions out of it, and leaves them almost disregarded. 

On the one hand I’m grateful that DBT doesn’t affect the hallucinations because it’s meant that medication is the very basic and complete answer to ridding me of them. And how much more straightforward is it to take a tablet than spend two and a half years (as I did) learning therapy skills? Of course, as someone who has once struggled to take their medication (because the hallucinations reassured me it was actually poison), I wouldn’t say taking tablets is ‘easier’ than learning DBT. Just far more understandable and, most likely, less time consuming.

I feel so stable and happy these days that it’s made me wonder how I could have deemed any time prior to this, as ‘recovery.’ This feels like the real deal!

 

7.    Future Collaboration Goals

In collaborations, I always do them with the thought that they should be treat as very important because I recognize that if I didn’t do a good job with a collaboration, they could very easily refuse to work with me again and most likely be extremely reluctant to say nice things about me if others were to ask. I’d like to think this has made me very ‘loyal’ to an organisation or individual so that once I collaborate with them, I will always keep them in mind if I were to have any ideas for more projects that might be relevant to their work.

I’ll be honest, I think that over recent years, I’ve produced so many pieces as collaborations (especially with Blogmas 2020) that I’ve grown attached to a lot of the organisations so I haven’t really made a huge effort to approach new ones. But I’m definitely a blogger who likes to always be working on improving content and being more creative with collaborations, so thinking of others I’d like to work with, was fun… Right now, the list is sort of short:

Other than Time to Change, I’m yet to work with a ‘big’ mental health charity so Mind or Samaritans would be amazing. Then, I’d love to work with two well-known individuals who I’ve been inspired by and have admired for such a long time: Zoe Sugg from Zoella, and Victoria Magrath from inthefrow.

 

8.    Thoughts on My Home

When there was finally talk of me being discharged from the psychiatric hospital after two and a half years as an inpatient sectioned under the 1983 Mental Health Act, discussions about where I would go from there began. Before the hospitalisation, I’d lived with my Mum my entire life, but after a suicide attempt left me on life support, I was told I needed to go to the nearest psychiatric hospital to specialise in my diagnosis (Borderline Personality Disorder). Over one hundred miles away from home. From my Mum.

Being discharged after that length of time away from ‘home,’ I felt as though I couldn’t go back to living with my Mum. It felt as though I’d come so far in my mental health recovery and that needed to be validated in me being trusted with the responsibilities that come with having my own home. Everyone began referring to this as my ‘forever home’ and I agreed for the first five years of living here. Then, last year, my mental health really stabilised, and I now feel as though I’m in such a good place, that I’ve come to realise realistically, if I were to have the life I’m working towards, this won’t be the only – or the last – home I live in…

So, for a bit of fun, I thought I’d put together some little mood boards of inspiration for the rooms I’d like to have:






9.    My Pets & Our Bond

Since the death of my first cat; Dolly (which/who you can read about here), my lionhead, lop-eared bunny; Pixie, and I have built such an incredible bond and relationship. I’d gotten Pixie (who you can read about here) just over a year before losing Dolly so they had created a lovely bond between themselves too and it was so heart-warming to see them together. However, it meant that when Dolly died, Pixie was just as upset as I was. She would follow me around everywhere and constantly wanted attention; and it was one of a couple of reasons why we added Emmy to the family within a week of losing Dolly. Lots of people said it was ‘too soon’ and that I hadn’t had ‘time to grieve’ but I knew it was the right thing for me, and for Pixie. Even just that week without a cat, I think it really bonded Pixie and I because it was like we were in the same boat, almost. I mean, if I’d lived by myself, I’d have felt incredibly lonely, so it was a case of me relying on Pixie and her leaning on me for comfort.

I didn’t ponder the idea of getting another cat, I knew it was the right decision. In the same way that when I met Emmy (which you can read about here) I knew immediately that she was the right addition for our family. I wasn’t even uncertain about introducing Pixie to the new cat because I knew it was what she needed, and this conviction was the reason why I basically ignored all the advice I received and put Emmy and Pixie together straight away! 


Their relationship makes me so happy and since having them both and seeing our bond as a little family, if I’ve felt suicidal or has thoughts to self-harm, professionals have always reminded me of what would happen to Emmy and Pixie if I were to die or even if I were just admitted to hospital. Initially, their stating of this didn’t make much difference because I think it was one of those things where I had to realise it for myself in order for it to sink in and have an effect. In thinking about this for myself, I came to realise something the professionals hadn’t thought of; that not only would Emmy and Pixie be re-homed if I were to kill myself, but they’d also likely be separated because I think it’d be hard to find someone prepared to look after a cat and a rabbit (no matter how well they get on!). The thought of that, gave me real motivation to stay safe.

 

10. Favourite Photos From 2020

11. My Thoughts on My Medication

At the beginning-ish of last year, my old pharmacy made a huge mistake with my antipsychotic medication (you can read more details about it here) and I, understandably, relapsed and began experiencing the auditory and visual hallucinations again. It was frustrating that it wasn’t as though I’d stopped taking, or refused to take, the medication. Like, it wasn’t my fault.

On my two-and-a-half-year psychiatric hospital admission, I learnt a lot about responsibility and accepting the consequences for your own actions. Ultimately, what I’ve learnt around this has been helpful for my mental health recovery, but occasionally – like in this instance with the pharmacy – it can be difficult when I have to watch someone or some organisation, fail to take responsibility and admit their wrongdoing in accepting the consequences for what they have done. This was definitely one of the challenges I faced with the pharmacy’s mistake because they tried to deflect the blame back onto me in blaming me for not checking my medication before taking it home. The ironic thing with this type of behaviour, is that often, if the person or organisation just admitted to their mistake, apologised for it, and accepted the consequences; the issue might not be taken as far as it is when they fail to do these things!

In a desperate attempt to find a silver lining in everything, I’ve tried to view the mistake as beneficial to me. Firstly, because it has really taught me the need for medication to maintain my safety and in turn, has made me realise that this is nothing to be ashamed of or embarrassed by. The second benefit of the mistake has been that it has definitely confirmed how helpful it can be for those few professionals who treat me with the belief that absolutely no one with my diagnosis (Borderline Personality Disorder) benefit from medication – particularly antipsychotic drugs. Obviously, it was sad that it took that mistake for me and the professionals to realise these things, but at least they’ve happened.

 

12. Three Favourite Blog Posts of 2020

Wednesday, 1 April 2020

MY FAVOURITE QUOTES & HOW I RELATE FROM 20 FILMS IN MY DISNEY PLUS WATCHLIST!! | IN COLLABORATION WITH DISNEY PLUS UK | AD

http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2020/04/my-favourite-quotes-how-i-relate-from.html

Monday, 3 August 2020

BEHIND-THE-SCENES OF A SUICIDE AWARENESS TRAINING SESSION WITH THE BRITISH TRANSPORT POLICE

www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2020/08/behind-scenes-of-suicide-awareness.html

Friday, 25 December 2020

BLOGMAS 2020 WITH I’M NOT DISORDERED | POST TWENTY-FIVE: A ROUND-UP OF THE SERIES

www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2020/12/blogmas-2020-with-im-not-disordered_25.html

 

13. How I Feel About the Abuse Now

I think that how secure I am in my recovery and the conviction that I’m safe, mean that I can talk more about the abuse without fear of it setting me ‘back’ or triggering memories and my physical health being in jeopardy.

One of  the causes for the abuse being in my head – alongside the obvious fact that you’ll always remember something like that happening to you – recently is that upon my discharge (which you can read more about here) from my local Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s Community Team (CNTW), an agreement was made around the abuse…

Since I gave my statement to the Police when reporting the abuse, it’s been apparent that those Police Officers are the only people in the world who know so much about what has happened to me. I’ve never gone into such detail or talked so in depth about the abuse with anyone else; including mental health professionals who are – in my opinion – the more appropriate people to be speaking to about something like this.

So, the agreement in my discharge was that I recognized I may need complex trauma therapy and that I would be referred – or could refer myself – to the services no sooner than six months after my discharge. Initially, this felt contradictory because I thought that surely, it’d be better to start someone like that whilst I had so much support around me. However, the thought process for services, was that if you’re dependant upon others for help and support and to keep you safe, then you aren’t ‘ready’ to engage in such a difficult subject of therapy.

Ironically – and CNTW professionals warned me this might happen – for a few months after my discharge I thought a lot about starting therapy, but now it’s past the six months of having no contact with the Community Team, I don’t think I even want to do it! Whilst I’m secure in my recovery and I’m very stable in the status of my mental health and my safety, I don’t want to do anything that might have, even have the most remote chance, of compromising this. It’s not even so much about it being a genuine risk, it’s purely that I feel it’s just not worth chancing. I mean, it doesn’t feel necessary; right now, I don’t feel that I really must do therapy in order to move forwards, to get ‘closure,’ or to ‘recover.’

 

14. My Book: Everything Disordered 


So, a few years I decided to copy and paste all my blog posts into a book. At the time, I was happy with it, but as I’ve grown, and my writing has grown, and my creativity has grown, and I’m NOT Disordered has grown… So, I actually feel like writing a book is the natural next step for me. And boom! Everything Disordered was born! In the early days of creating the book, the entire contents and even the cover looked completely different. I can’t remember exactly what made me change my thinking and my hopes for the book, but it changed, nonetheless. The book started off as being a jumble with a focus on mental health and including some things I’ve learnt, some resources, worksheets, images… Without revealing too much, I’ve kept some of the feel of that, but it’s now mainly focused on blogging; and of course, there’s also still a lot in there about mental health.

Having purely copied and pasted my first book, this one has proven to take up a huge amount of time and effort – but in a good way. I mean, shouldn’t writing a book be hard work? Isn’t that why it should feel like such an accomplishment when it’s published? Sometimes though, I do wonder if I’ve bitten off more than I can chew in properly writing a book in this way; but I think learning so much about the process is really fulfilling for my mental health. The layout and content of Everything Disordered also means that my creativity is allowed to run absolutely wild, and that’s been relieving and pleasing for my mental health too. So, my only real hope with the book, is that my commitment to it, and my passion for it, will stand out to its readers.

 

15. Three Favourite Song Lyrics I’ll Be Listening to This Year 

‘But I won’t let them break me down to dust’ – This Is Me: Keala Settle

‘I will rise a thousand times again’ – Rise Up: Andra Day

‘And when you’re gone, I feel incomplete’ – Symphony: Clean Bandit

 

16. Shall I do Blogmas again? 


For the entirety of December 2020, I created Blogmas for I’m NOT Disordered – a series where you publish a blog post every day from December 1st until Christmas (you can read the round-up to it here) – and it may only be February, but I’m already thinking about whether to do another this year… Since I ended up having to start creating the Blogmas series in September (you can read more about why I did here), I don’t think it’s actually that strange to be thinking about it already!

From previous Christmases, I’ve learnt that to create a series I’m really happy with, and one where I’m actually still able to enjoy Christmas and spend time with my friends and family, it’s really necessary to do the planning and preparation as early in the year as possible. So, with that in mind, I feel as though I’ve still got a few months to go before I really need to come to some sort of firm decision and I’ll be taking a vote on Twitter; but, at the moment… it’s a yes!

 

17. My Gratitude for My Best-friends

One of my best friends passed away last year and for a small amount of time, I remember thinking ‘I’ve just got four left!’ But I soon corrected myself on the use of ‘just’ and was immediately aware that using it, almost made me sound ungrateful or unappreciative of those four best friends. And that’s, very obviously, not the case!

Ellie: I met Ellie (Ellen) in sixth form in 2007 when there was only one spare seat in class for me to take, and it was next to her. I won’t lie, I couldn’t have ever imagined that we would still be best friends almost fourteen years later or that our friendship would involve her having my first three godchildren. I find that I can go to Ellie in an absolute crisis and I’ll still receive a very calm, interested response.

Lauren: I also met Lauren in 2007 when I discovered her Myspace (back in those days!) profile through the ‘friends of friends’ function, and I asked her who sang the song she had on her profile (it was Scouting for Girls – She’s So Lovely). Funnily enough, when I mentioned to my friends that I’d been talking to Lauren, they told me she was ‘rich’ and wasn’t friends with people who weren’t. When she told her friends about me, she was basically warned that I was a terrible person. Thankfully, neither of us listened!

Georgie: I met Georgie in a weird sort of circumstance, but after knowing each other a matter of months, we fell into this groove that made it appear as though we’d been best friends for years. Georgie and I have so much in common – not just the usual things about music and fashion and movies… I think we’re also pretty in-tune in our mental health too. And having a best friend who can relate to me is really essential.

Marty: I met Marty at a mental health event a few years ago when we were both volunteering for one of the charities. I won’t lie, I don’t really remember how our friendship evolved, but sometimes that’s a key quality to an important relationship because it leaves you feeling as though you’ve known one another your entire life. Marty also has a blog (www.gumonmyshoe.com) and it means so much to me to have a best friend who can fully appreciate one of the biggest, most important, aspects of my life.

 

18. The Biggest Lessons Learnt in 2020

Trust my instincts when it comes to the health of Emmy and Pixie.

DBT has turned into an actual life saver – I even like Mindfulness now!

It shouldn’t be embarrassing to say you take psychiatric medication.

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need from someone!

Grief doesn’t stop, you can just learn safer ways to cope with it.

 

19. The Future of I’m NOT Disordered

Before New Year’s, I ran a poll on Twitter to see whether followers would like to see a re-design of I’m NOT Disordered in terms of layout, colour scheme, logo… everything! Unfortunately, it came out at 50/50 so I had to make the ultimate decision myself and on thinking about it, I came to the conclusion that I actually really like the current look of the blog, and why fix something that isn’t broken?! 


Having that idea in my head though, has meant that sometimes I still think about changing my mind and creating a new logo or something. So, maybe it will happen at some point this year. At the moment though, with the finishing off of my book to concentrate on, I really don’t have the time or effort to commit to doing it.

Something else I’ve been thinking about with I’m NOT Disordered is that if my mental health is well enough that I could start a fulltime job, what would happen to this? As things stand, I’d really want a role where I was able to continue blogging, but perhaps that will change with time. It’s actually quite scary to think about that – about the thought that I probably, one day, will stop blogging. I just can’t ever imagine it feeling like the right thing to do or the next step in my life. But if my mental health had taught me anything over these years, it’s been that things very rarely go as hoped or as planned!

 

20. Three Favourite Collaborations of All Time

Cats Protection: The12 Cats of Christmas Series:

http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2018/12/the-launch-12-cats-of-christmas-with-im.html

St Oswald’s Hospice: Volunteers Week:


http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2020/06/volunteers-week-tips-to-get-voluntary.html

British Transport Police: Behind-The-Scenes Training Session:

www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2020/08/behind-scenes-of-suicide-awareness.html

 


21. Aims for The Number of Readers This Year

I’ve talked a lot before about the importance of statistics of readers for me, after once years ago being asked why I was ‘bothered’ about them… My two key reasons are firstly about the fact that the more people to read my blog, the higher the chance of it helping someone in some way. Then, secondly, there’s the fact that as my readers increase, so do the opportunities I am offered and those opportunities (usually in the form of a collaboration) are both amazing for me, and – hopefully – allow me to provide you all with better content.

With this in mind, my current statistics of the readers of I’m NOT Disordered indicate that if they remain the same, I should be close to one million readers by the end of the year! The thought of that still seems fairly unbelievable, I think because I feel that I started from such a small place of celebrating 100 readers and only giving I’m NOT Disordered’s link to friends and family. It’s like, how can that have turned into this?!

 

22. Three Favourites on Netflix That I’ll Be Watching Again This Year

Gossip Girl

Pitch Perfect

iZombie

https://www.netflix.com/browse

 

23. Missing My Godchildren

I think that even if you’re a new reader to I’m NOT Disordered, I don’t really need to talk about my god children and since you’ll probably already know how important they are to me, you’ll understand why missing them is a point that is more than worthy of a place on this post!

I think this feeling I have around my godchildren is something a lot of people have experienced… it’s about the fact that even though if there lived around the corner, I’d probably still not see them so often, but it’d be nice just knowing they were round the corner. Now they live near Edinburgh and there’s a lockdown so that even if I wanted to – or if they did – I wouldn’t be able to see them right now! Like I said, it’s not the point – the point is, at least I would’ve had the option. 

I find it really heart-warming to hear that my oldest godson has been asking when he’ll get to see me because in every relationship in my life, I worry that the other person doesn’t feel the same as me. That I appreciate someone and find them more special than what I am in their life. And obviously with them being children, there’s been the added worry that they’ll forget who I even am!

Me being me, though, I look for a positive and in doing so, I’ve realised that because of lockdown and the distance, not only will it give me even more motivation(!) to enjoy the time I do get to spend with them, it’s also proven to be a trust test on my creativity to think up ways I can still be a part of their lives from so far away!

 

24. Three Favourite Memories of 2020

Visiting my God Children in Edinburgh:

http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2020/09/three-lessons-ive-learnt-from-my-god.html

Creating Blogmas 2020:

http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2020/12/blogmas-2020-with-im-not-disordered_25.html

Visiting Liverpool:

http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2020/02/youll-never-walk-alone-why-teamwork-is.html

 

25. Plans for My Physical Health

Since Boxing Day 2019, I’ve had ongoing drama with my thumb! I was trying to take the cork off a bottle of prosecco and my EPL tendon (one of the two tendons in your thumb) tore. After being misdiagnosed in my local Minor Injuries Unit, I ended up needing emergency surgery on it just before New Year’s. Unfortunately, that delay in getting the treatment/surgery meant that the repair didn’t hold very well, and the injury has given me so many problems for over a year now. The current stance – after an ultrasound a few weeks ago – with it is that the tendon has been displaced and it’s looking as though I’m going to need surgery on both tendons in addition to the radial nerve branches, I severed from self-harming last year. 

Then, in September 2020, I had a seizure and fell on my right side; so, I had an x-ray and it turned out my AC Joint (on the same side as my thumb problems!) had separated. Since then, my shoulder has dislocated about four times and I’ve lost sensation on the outside of the top of my arm – apparently a sign of auxiliary nerve damage. So, the plan for that is to have a special MRI scan where they put a contrast dye straight into your joint (it usually goes through a vein) and then an appointment with a Orthopaedic Surgeon to get the results of how bad the damage is and decide on what the plan will be from then.

In the meantime – between the appointments and the scans and things – I now have a fantastic GP who tries her absolute best to understand some of the unfamiliar terminology that the surgeons come out with, listens to what I find helpful, and does all that she can to leave me feeling supported after our phone calls.

 

26. I Still Miss Dolly Just as Much

I mentioned earlier that I lost my four-year-old cat; Dolly in 2018 due to kidney failure. The Vets said there were two options for her: the first would be to try another treatment that could cause her stress and pain, and the second was to have her put to sleep. I went for the second one because I couldn’t stand the thought of her ever being in any sort of pain. A lot of people have been in this situation and usually label it as such a difficult decision… For me, it was a horrible one to have to make, but I very easily knew that I was making the right decision. I hope that in saying that people don’t assume that makes her death any ‘easier’ or even just ‘less challenging’ in some way.

Another reason I wouldn’t want people to dismiss the importance and impact of Dolly’s death purely because she’s a cat. When I was completing a voluntary job application for the job I have now with St Oswald’s Hospice, one of the questions was whether I had experienced a loss within the previous twelve months. In my answer I wrote that they were no doubt referring to the death of a human, but I really want to raise awareness that the loss of a pet can be important because they are just as loved and cared for as a person – sometimes, even more so! Having had my recovery goal of owning my own cat for over a year before getting Dolly, it meant that when I finally reached the point where I was discharged from the psychiatric hospital, buying Dolly was the first thing I did! And having wanted her for so long, she meant so much to me – it was like finally having evidence of just how hard I’d worked in therapy to reach that moment. Her role in my recovery meant that I felt she had an extra importance to her. 

Whilst I now have my little calico rescue cat; Emmy – and obviously still Pixie too! – no one/no pet will ever take Dolly’s place and I think this is just one of the many reasons why the grief I have from losing her, still hasn’t lost its grip on me over two years later. I guess this is a common feeling in grief and with any sort of loss; it feels like it doesn’t get any ‘better’ no matter how much time passes. I think that the only change – for me, in my grieving process – has been that I’ve developed better coping strategies for when I think about her (which is still every single day). I also now have the ability and insight to think of all the very happy memories with Dolly to replace those of that last week she was poorly for.

 

27. Three Things I’m Excited for This Year

The release of Everything Disordered

My best friend; Lauren, having her baby!

The continued increase in my mental health stabilisation and safety

 

28. How Lucky I Am 

In 2009, I took my second overdose in response to the auditory hallucinations I had – by the point – experienced for a few months. I hadn’t long been out of the psychiatric hospital from my first suicide attempt and the inpatient Psychiatrist I had, ended up being involved again…

My poor mental health and risk of harming myself came to the attention of my local Crisis Team and, alongside my Mum, they organised an assessment under the 1983 Mental Health Act to take place at my home address. In an assessment, you have to be seen by two Psychiatrists and an Approved Mental Health Practitioner (AMHP, usually a Social Worker). As it happened, my previous inpatient Psychiatrist was ‘on call’ and so he came to the home and I remember lying on my bed and he came and sat on a futon. I told him the voices were still loud and instructing me to hurt myself and his response was ‘I think it’s time to get you some medication now.’ I went downstairs and everyone was filling out the pink sectioning papers before opening the front door to watch six Police Officers storm into the sitting room, handcuff me, wrap me in leg restraints, and carry me out to their van to be driven to hospital.

I remember when I got to the psychiatric hospital after my medical treatment and was sat with the psychiatrist who’d now cared for me twice and he said “I’m not going to lie to you, Aimee. You’re not going to make it to your next birthday if you don’t start working with us to make you better.” I shrugged because I honestly didn’t care. Within the following three years, my records show I engaged in a behaviour that risked my life over 60 times. With that in mind, it shouldn’t have been surprising that after those three chaotic years, I ended up in Intensive Care on a life support machine before being sectioned again for over two years.

There was one suicide attempt in particular, when I went AWOL from the psychiatric hospital and I was being restrained to have an antidote treatment administered against my will. The Doctors had put a tube into a vein on my foot for the treatment to go through and since my arms were being held against the bed, I used the toes from my other foot to pull the tube out. That’s how suicidal I was.

How does a person come back from that? How do you recover from being so passionate about dying? How do you become someone who loves life and who is grateful for every moment of it?

 

29. Thinking About My Nana

My entire life my Mum has told me how much my Nana loved me from my birth. She always tells me the story about when she first brought me to meet my Nana and Grandad (my Mum’s parents) and my Nana ran out to the car and without a hello to Mum, grabbed me, and took me into the house!

I don’t remember very much from my childhood, but I can remember writing short stories for my Nana and my Mum to read and how I always loved watching their reactions – I think it taught me the power of writing and how your words can influence how a person feels. Another favourite activity when I was younger was when my Nana and I would tear out our favourite things in catalogues and create little collages with them.  


When my Nana passed away, I was still very much struggling with my mental health so being in recovery, I think it’ll always sadden me that she hasn’t really been here to see me feeling better. Of course, my family always say that she’s watching over us all, but that’s different to being able to have a ‘well done’ cuddle from her Having looked forward to reading my little, short stories, I think my Nana would be so proud and excited to see my blog’s popularity grow and follow my journey in writing my book.

 

30. All the People Who Have Slipped Through the Net

This past year, I’ve lost quite a few friends and people I know, to suicide. Having made suicide `attempts myself, I feel that I have an inkling of how those people were feeling in taking their own life. Whilst it confirms I haven’t been alone in my thoughts and feelings; it makes me so incredibly sad to think of others experiencing even something remotely similar to what I have.

I get especially sad around suicides where the person has been in contact with health services – physical or mental – because it leaves me (and probably a lot of others) feeling that the person has been completely let down. Failed, by the people whose job it is to help and support someone to avoid them taking such an action. From my experiences with health services, I can completely see that there’s a very real chance that the budget cuts, reduced number of inpatient beds, and general misunderstanding of some diagnosis, could affect whether a person lives or dies. And I totally know that there’s an element of taking responsibility for your actions but what if you don’t have the capacity to do that? Or what if someone does have capacity yet still wants to hurt or kill their self?

To those people, fight. Even when you don’t want to or can’t find the motivation or energy, fight.

 

To read all my Birthday posts since the start of I’m NOT Disordered:

‘My 22nd Birthday’:

http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2013/02/yes-yes-i-know-its-achievement-i-made.html

 

‘Feelin’ like it’s my Birthday’ (my 23rd Birthday!):

http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2014/02/feelin-like-its-my-birthday.html

 

’24 Lessons Learnt in 24 Years’:

http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2015/02/24-lessons-learnt-in-24-years.html

 

‘25 Reasons Why I’m Glad I Made It To My 25th Birthday’:

www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2016/02/25-reasons-why-i-glad-i-made-it-to-my.html

 

‘The Things Turning 26 Made Me Think About [MY BIRTHDAY]’:

www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2017/02/the-things-turning-26-made-me-think.html

 

’27 THINGS I’M THANKFUL FOR | MY TWENTY SEVENTH BIRTHDAY!!’:

www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2018/02/27-things-im-thankful-for-my-twenty.html

 

‘TWENTY-EIGHT THINGS I’M LOOKING FORWARD TO FOR MY 28th BIRTHDAY:

www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2019/02/twenty-eight-things-im-looking-forward.html

 

‘TWENTY-NINE HIGHLIGHTS FOR MY TWENTY-NINETH BIRTHDAY!!’:

http://www.imnotdisordered.co.uk/2020/02/twenty-nine-highlights-for-my-twenty.html