12. MEDICATION PLANS & GOALS
During a short – but still dangerous – relapse, a few months ago, my GP spoke with a Psychiatrist and agreed to increase my antipsychotic medication. They decided that it would be for a few months so I’m kind of expecting the GP to contact me in the next month or so to reduce it.
Thing is, having seen just how terrible and unsafe I felt before the increase, and to now experience a sensation of positivity and to have found passion for maintaining good health; I don’t know if I’m going to want the dose to go back down. I mean, how could I possibly want to put my own safety at risk? And I think that the fact I’ve ended up on life support and in Intensive Care twice as a result of suicide attempts, has really shown me just how unsafe things can get. The thought of going back to those feelings, thoughts, and behaviours has me terrified because I honestly believe that I won’t make it through it all a second time round.
When I was in hospital in December for my first smear, the Anaesthetist was asking me all these questions and going through my medication when he commented that I was ‘on quite a lot!’ And it made me think about when it all got to the point where I now take 22 tablets per day… I realised that almost all of them were prescribed whilst I was in the specialist psychiatric hospital for two and a half years. That realisation worried me that maybe it meant that I’d been in a place that’s a bit prescription happy. Like, maybe they just prescribed medications more easily than a GP would…? And did that mean that I didn’t need to be on as many medications as I am?
So, this little epiphany has led me to have the goal of using 2022 to reduce each of my medications slowly; and to find either a threshold of the lowest dose I can tolerate for each drug, or until I find I didn’t even need it any more. And it’s definitely not about being ashamed or embarrassed to tell people what I take. I don’t worry about being judged or thought of as ‘weak’ for needing medication to stay safe. I fully believe that to take psychiatric medication is an additional strength because I know how challenging it can be to ask for help that will let you reach an opportunity where you can be prescribed them.
13. ‘WHEN WE JUMP’ PROGRESS
I started writing my fiction book; When We Jump, earlier in 2021 and announced its intended publication date as September 2022. To be honest, I kind of wish I hadn’t given that deadline to myself because now there’s a pressure there that I really feel isn’t a good match for the theme of my writing.
It’s pretty obvious from the book’s title that I’ll be largely addressing suicide, so I’d like to think people will appreciate and understand why I would say that I really need my working on the book to be as ‘simple’ as possible. To be as less overwhelming as possible. To be of less pressure and of less constraint. I mean, on the one hand I think it’s important that creating this book is relaxed and purely done in my own time, but also, that needs to mean I have complete control over it.
So when I had my relapse a while ago, I stopped writing the book because I was worried that my already overly consumed suicidal head would just explode from having too much focus on the topic. However, I’m so passionate about the book and the ‘storyline’ behind it that I have been determined not to lose sight of it and so, pretty much every day since my relapse finished, I’ve thought about how to get back into it. What I need to start writing again. And maybe, I can find some positive in the announcement of the publication date… Maybe I can use it as a motivation now. A motivation to carry on the process which – despite the subject – I was actually finding very therapeutic.
14. READER STATISTICS GOALS
It feels so surreal to be at a point in my blogging career where I can sensibly say that I’d like two million readers by the end off 2023 (which means the target for this year is to be at one and a half million by the end of 2022). I mean, no one could be more aware than me of the popularity of I’m NOT Disordered, yet it still seems unbelievable that I could have such a goal in mind. And for it to be completely reasonable.
I guess the largest cause for this is the notion that I can so easily and still so vividly remember reaching my first one hundred readers… I remember refreshing the screen to see the reader count had gone up by a few and all of a sudden it was on just over one hundred and just like that, I couldn’t breathe! Not because I was having a panic attack or was crying, but because I was screaming and cheering and then running from my bedroom in the psychiatric hospital to the girl two doors down to scream and cheer in the ward corridor! And we cheered so loud and so passionately that the staff came running because they thought someone was ‘kicking off!
Having that wholesome memory – I think – has kept me grounded all these years. I think that’s something that is important to have in the blogging industry; where you can very suddenly, and perhaps permanently, end up with starry eyes and a hugely inappropriate ego! Remembering where I – and I’m NOT Disordered – started, and how we got to where we are now, helps me to appreciate all the amazing opportunities I’m offered so often these days. It keeps me grateful and aware of how lucky and privileged I am to have found something I love so much and even grateful just to have the ability to do it too!
15. THE PANDEMIC & LOCKDOWN
So how could I create a blog post for the New Year that gives no reference to the coronavirus pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns?!
To be honest I think that, for me, the most overwhelming part of the entire pandemic wasn’t purely the risk to my life and the lives of my loved ones; it was also the notion that in years to come, children will be learning about all of this at school. The thought that I’m living through something that is making history is more than a bit daunting.
I’d consider myself very lucky through this entire situation because neither myself or my loved ones have been ill… But mostly, I see myself as lucky because it hasn’t caused a deterioration in my mental health; as it has for so many others. There have been so many suicides come as the result of feelings of loneliness and depression that were exacerbated by lockdown. There’s also so many people with OCD and health anxieties who have been left struggling so much more as a result of Covid.
I’d like to think I’m one of those ‘look-on-the-bright-side’ kind of people who are always looking for positives to every situation. So, with the pandemic and lockdown, I try to concentrate on the fact that it has actually strengthened some relationships by illustrating the lengths some people will go to to, the extra miles they’ll go, and the added effort they’ll put in to maintain contact with their friends and family etc.
Another element I consider a positive to the pandemic and lockdown has been the increased usage, and more favourable thoughts of the digital world. Since I started blogging, I’ve been aware that there’s so much talk about trolling and online bullying that any benefits to come from social media and blogging are completely overshadowed and deemed insignificant. There was very little in the media about online support groups and networking opportunities, until it became one of the primary methods of contact.
16. ANOTHER RE-DESIGN?
In creating images for this post and for part one, I spent some time on Canva and Pinterest and found myself feeling very tempted to start on a re-design for I’m NOT Disordered.
Since creating my blog in 2013, its aesthetics and logo have changed about three times. When I first started blogging, I actually wasn’t responsible for the design of it. Another inpatient in the psychiatric hospital offered to help with that side of things and so whenever I needed to make a change I’d go down the corridor and ask her if it was possible. Then, when her discharge was being discussed and planned for before mine, I realised it just wasn’t going to be a feasible method of working anymore so I found myself googling things…
I was so proud when I made that entire first change all by myself because the blog was starting to build its popularity and I was receiving so much lovely feedback that I felt I could finally take credit for now that I was 100% responsible for the entirety of I’m NOT Disordered.
In those early days, it was all about the pink and then it went purple and then the blue and pink that it is now. One thing I’ve tried to keep continuity of has been in changing the logo – arguably the most important element to a blog re-design. From Day One, the logo has evolved around a circle of flowers. Originally, the inside of the flowers was a photo of me, and so when I redesigned the logo, I kept the idea of having a circle of flowers, but removed the photo and added the text instead.
I came to realise that the only thing I’d really be intending to change on I’m NOT Disordered would be the logo and it would purely be because of the colour scheme. I do always wonder if the pink in it would put off some people into thinking my blog is either really targeted to a specific gender or that the content is in some way gender related. But, in all honesty, I’m not sure of another colour scheme I’d be interested in and ultimately, this blog is mine and so it has to be something I like and that I can be proud of.
17. THE NORTHUMBERLAND RECOVERY COLLEGE WORKSHOP
A few years ago, I worked with the Newcastle Recovery College (ReCoCo) and facilitated an over-subscribed workshop around blogging. Whilst it was massively challenging because at that time, I hadn’t taught some sort of training course by myself, I also absolutely loved it! I loved the fact that I could use my own experiences to encourage others to do something which I’ve found so helpful for my mental health.
It’s kind of like I said earlier about the media coverage on the digital world being all about the negatives (which I’m in no way saying are un-newsworthy!)… For such a long time, it’s been something in my life where I’ve always been vocal about it, but have never actually found a way to do something about it… Until ReCoCo offered me the perfect opportunity, and it was made all the more powerful for me, when I was told I may have to facilitate the course twice or consider using a larger room to accommodate all the enrolments!
Having this passion and determination to encourage others to look at blogging more favourably, meant that whilst I did have some nerves at the thought of speaking to so many people, I was more excited and dedicated. And now that I have that experience, and I’ve gone on to facilitate a suicide awareness session for the British Transport Police and give presentations at much larger events, I feel more confident in facilitating this workshop for the new Northumberland Recovery College.
I think that my only reason for any nerves or anxiety, is that I’ve completely re-designed the PowerPoint and pretty much the entire content of the workshop! Of course the College’s staff have seen the new one and loved it, but I’m still wary of what the actual attendees will think. I’m lucky with this though, because I really thrive on new challenges, and I’m very happy and proud of the new version of the workshop.
18. EVERY COURSE I WANT TO DO ON CENTRE OF EXCELLENCE
Feline First Aid Diploma Course: £127.00
End of Life Therapy Diploma Course: £147.00
Project Management Diploma Course: £127.00
Journal Therapy Diploma Course: £127.00
For more courses: https://www.centreofexcellence.com
19. PLANS FOR MY HOME
When I was creating a Blogmas post, I ended up going through some old photos of my first few Christmasses in my own home, and it meant seeing all the old colour schemes in each room and my old furniture. It was kind of strange because I had actually forgotten about half of the furniture and it made me really proud and happy of my home now, and grateful to my Mum for all of the time and effort she’s put into helping me to make it into what it is today!
For twenty-one years, I lived with my Mum, and then I was admitted to the specialist psychiatric hospital over one hundred miles away. I was really poorly at the time and so it wasn’t for a good few months that I really began feeling homesick. And even when I did begin to have those sad pangs for the most simple of things in the home with my Mum, I didn’t put any thought into where I would live when I got out of hospital. This was almost completely down to the fact that I still felt so hopeless and suicidal that I didn’t imagine I would even survive the admission.
This was almost made reality when I went AWOL from the hospital and made a suicide attempt that left me (for the second and final time) on life support in Intensive Care. When I got back to the psychiatric hospital, I was taken to the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) which I had only ever heard horror stories of! Sadly – but also thankfully – this experience was a real kick up the bum to teach me that I didn’t want my life to be that way. But it also taught me the importance of having my own possessions around me; and I saw just how beneficial that was for my mental health.
Initially, I was reluctant to tell anyone about this because I feared I’d be deemed superficial and materialistic. I worried that people would think ‘she can’t be that poorly if having her own toiletries helps.’ But I found the confidence to speak up about this with the realisation that there actually might be others out there having the exact same thoughts and feelings. I also recognised that if someone told me that something in particular helped their mental health, I wouldn’t even dream of judging them for it. No matter what it was. If it helps, then it helps. If there’s something out there that will stop you feeling suicidal or having thoughts to self-harm, you should shout it from the rooftops!
Learning this importance of my belongings meant that when my discharge began being discussed after over two years as an inpatient, I was kind of nervous at the thought of where I would live. I mean, surely it’d be much easier and more simple to go back to live with my Mum in a home I already knew and loved? Like, how could I possibly take a totally new house and immediately feel comfortable and benefited from it?! But somehow, it seemed that moving into my own home was the natural next step.
I’ve now been here over seven years, and I’m starting to think about the fact this home probably isn’t my ‘forever home’ as it had been labelled when I viewed it, when I got the keys, when I bought furniture for it, when it was decorated… Now, I just think about if I meet someone, if I want children… Even just that I really want an office and a bigger sofa! But, financially, a new home is a long way off so I’m feeling pretty convinced that my priority should be making this home the best it can be!
20. WHY I CAN’T DECIDE WHETHER TO BE GRATEFUL FOR THE END OF 2021
In all honesty, aside from the pandemic and lockdown, the biggest negative of 2021 was losing my big, cuddly, Lionhead bunny; Pixie, in April.
I think that losing Pixie has been so difficult for so many different reasons, but mostly because of why I got her and what she meant to me. Having the hallucinations of rabbits return in 2017 gave me the inspiration and thought to add an actual bunny to my home with the thought that she would provide me with a comfort and reassurance of reality. That she’d enable me to be more able to to tell the difference between the scary, upsetting hallucinations and my lovely, safe reality. And it worked. Pixie did that for me.
She fixed me and then losing her threatened to break me all over again. But I wouldn’t let it. I didn’t want to let her down. I didn’t want for anything about Pixie – even her death – to do anything but have a positive impact on my mental health and my life in general.
21. EIGHT FAVOURITE BLOG POSTS FROM 2021
22. WHAT’S NEXT?
The next content you’re likely to see will be for I’m NOT Disordered’s 9th Birthday, which is January 6th, and then there’ll be some photos from the party I’m hosting to celebrate one million readers! Please be as excited as I am?!