people need other people.

it’s 10pm on a wednesday night and here i am, just a while in from having dinner with someone very special and i’m sat in bed crying.

why you ask? or maybe you didn’t but either way you’re finding out.

the reason i’m crying is because i have just finished reading Bryony Gordon’s book ‘Mad Girl’. the book is Bryony sharing her story, her mental health story.

some of the parallels in our illnesses are scary but it made me realise that we, Bryony and I, are the lucky ones. we had people around us, both at home and at work, that cared. that care. that care enough to not give up on us when our demons get too much, that don’t run the other way saying ‘fuck this shit, you’re on your own’ but stand next to us, gently guiding us saying ‘you’ve got this’.

tonight when i was at dinner my friend told me about a colleague she had who had passed away recently, this colleague had struggled with his mental health (his death was unrelated to any mental health illnesses) in the past which eventually led to him leaving his position – by all accounts the management were not very supportive of the days out he needed to take.

(please note, needed is accurate. when you’re depressed you can’t simply say to depression ‘oh well today isn’t a very good day for me to be depressed, i’ve lots on. can you come back tomorrow?’ depression, in case you didn’t know, is a bit of an inconsiderate bastard).

at his funeral she learnt how much having that job meant to him. she said she never realised the impact their day to day jokes and interactions had on him, and on his life.

i’m crying because i realised that i was lucky, i was lucky that back in september i had someone who was able to notice i was poorly before i did – Momma Sophs, you recognised i was ill before i did, before anyone did. i don’t know how but thank you.

i was lucky that, when i was stood on a train platform a couple of weeks later listening to the voices in my head telling me to give up and that me dying would be for the benefit of everyone, that it would be better than the constant battle in my head, i had diane on the end of the phone telling me not to listen to the voice in my head that was telling me that. that it was lying to me.

i was lucky i had my sister to call and make the doctors appointment when i was too ill to myself.

i was lucky i had denise calling me every few hours just to check in, telling me to come to her house after work so she could feed me and let me get some of these thoughts out my head and feelings off my chest.

i had my boss – who i was super nervous to tell i was poorly because, well i was embarrassed, i was embarrassed of being ill again and of how bad it had gotten and what it might make him think of me – tell me that it was a tricky illness but that he knew i was more than capable. he understood why i text him to tell him and didn’t call and then spent time with me on the phone the next day trying to understand the illness, what it looked like for me and help me figure out what my triggers were.

now i have my new boss who was, as well, brilliant when he found out – as i’m still recovering i thought it wise to tell him and it came up very organically in conversation so i was comfortable telling him. parts of our conversation went like this…

me – i don’t run around screaming at everyone that i’m mad but it makes sense you should know.

him – you’re not mad because you’ve got depression…. you just need to make sure you tell me how you’re feeling, keep me in the loop.

(that’s what i needed to hear from him. it was a big weight off these shoulders, i tell ya. also, nb, i often tell people i’m ‘mad’ because i think i’m being funny and most people feel more comfortable when you joke about serious stuff)

i had steph, who always seems to message me at just the right time, who always makes me feel like a better human than i am.

i guess, the short version (i’ve never been very good at getting straight to the point), is that i was crying because i was grateful.

i was grateful for this year and for these people (and many more not listed here). i was grateful for the days when i thought i wouldn’t make it to the next one because, if nothing else, i’ve learnt the human spirit is made of strong bloody stuff.

2017 is the year i realised that i didn’t have to keep all my problems to myself. it was the year i learnt who my friends really were. i learnt i don’t have to keep my cards so close to my chest. i might be a burden sometimes, but then aren’t we all? the ones that think i’m worth it will stay. for the good and bad.

i learnt people need other people.

we really do.

people need other people.

and there’s nothing wrong with that. nothing at all.

xoxo M

p.s if you want to try to understand mental health illnesses and how they make you feel and think please read Bryony’s book. she words it so well, much better than i ever could.

World Mental Health Day

hi everyone,

i wasn’t going to post today. i wasn’t going to write. i was going to let the day pass and share this another time, perhaps when i was better. however, having seen so many of my friends (both real life and online), family and even celebrities, post about World Mental Health Day i feel like it would be insincere of me not to post.

as many of you know, mental health is something that is very close to my heart (and head). i posted before about my mental health battles, about dealing with anxiety and depression. i have been very vocal about not being ashamed of my sometimes chaotic mind. So, with that in mind, i have something to tell you.

i, michaela, am battling depression once again. third times the charm, ay.

when did I know it had come back, when did i suspect something was wrong again? that i needed help? well, it hit me like a sack of shit last week but the symptoms had been there for a while; i just ignored them, or rather blamed them on exhaustion from having worked continuously since may with no break, pulling at least 50hr work weeks.

so what finally made me admit that i wasn’t well and that i need a helping hand? it was number of things and they all came to head last week. i’ll tell you.

this next part some people may find difficult to read and so i apologise in advance if you makes you feel uncomfortable.

september 23rd. i was in montrose, ca visiting friends.  i took the following picture and uploaded it to my socials

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nothing weird about that, most people enjoy a quick selfie. the difference is, most people don’t follow posting a selfie on facebook with thoughts of “if i jumped off the balcony would it be high enough to kill me?” i pondered that for a good 5 minutes. then my friend Mark came along and distracted me enough for that thought to leave my mind. i slept more than normal on that holiday too – which is common sign of depression – but again i blamed it on exhaustion, all those long hours i’d done were catching up with me. or were they? Mark and my friends fed me up good and proper the whole holiday – i’d been going days without eating properly (eating too much/ loss of appetite – another sign of depression) before – but again i was just too busy to eat. i mean, a bag of popcorn and a breakfast bar is a normal amount of food to eat in a 48 hour period, right?

when i got home i was still exhausted, but blamed it on jetlag. getting up in the morning was harder than ever and i was extremely emotional but, hey, i had my period so it must have been that.

tuesday i was off. i shared my worries with one of my oldest friends, denise. i spent a couple of hours with her, her little one and the dog. it’ll do me good to get out the house, i thought. i thought i’d been ok but, turns out, i hadn’t. she told me on friday that she could tell i “wasn’t right”.

i was starting late on wednesday, it took me an hour to get out of bed. the negative thoughts had crept back in but again, i brushed it off. it took all the strength i had to get in the shower, i managed through and got out the shower but that’s where my energy left me. my sister had to pick me up off the floor. she had to help me get dressed. she had to dry my hair for me, all whilst i sat there in a daze. dentist happened and then i was away to work. i got to the train station and stood crying on the platform. i knew there was something wrong with me, i could barely keep my head up. my thoughts were along these lines… how long would i feel the pain if i stepped in the path of a train? do people ever survive being hit by a train? it would be over in seconds, i’m sure. the aim was not to die, the aim was to end the confusion. the aim was to clear the fog that had clouded my mind. the aim was peace.

i realise that this may seem dramatic to you. hell, it does to me. but it’s my truth and i won’t lie about it. i can’t sugar coat anything because to do that would be pointless.

clearly, as i am sat here writing this, i did not step in front of a train. i had a set of people around me that listened, that knew me well enough to make me get help. i shared that train thought with one of my best friends because, through all the fog, i had a small moment of clarity, i knew telling someone would help. and it did. once i had told her, the fog cleared slightly.

whilst this was happening my sisters had been talking, and my eldest sister called me and told me she was booking me doctors appointment – she got me one for the next day.

i went to the doctor. i’m getting help. this time around i have opted for no anti depressants, although i have some waiting for me if i change my mind. this time around i am trying counselling. i need to understand my triggers.

i had to cancel my trip to india to get better which broke my heart. my doctor deemed me too ‘high risk’ to travel so far with no treatment, so soon after diagnosis, “it’s definitely not advisable, michaela. india will always be there”.

i never thought i would be back at a point where i was having to tell people i was ill in this way again.  all i can ask at this time from those that are closest to me is their patience, please be patient with me. some days i will be ok. others i won’t. today was a good day – for the first time in 4 days i found the energy to get out of bed and shower (depression is not glamorous), it took everything out of me – my hair was knot city so that was a chore in itself. i also ask you to not edit yourselves around me – make jokes, talk to me like normal; i don’t need special treatment. i’m still me!!

i also need to say thank you. thank you to my sisters for looking out for me, my parents. thank you to diane who talked me down from that moment on the platform, who messaged me each morning and night to make sure i was safe. to denise, for checking in on me each day, for giving me an evening of distraction on friday – i felt normal for an evening, for putting food in front of me (even if i only ate half a plate), to my little sophia for being honest and saying that you didn’t know what to say but that you just wanted me better. to steph, you always know what to say, even when i don’t believe the nice things you say to me, you still say them. to the taylors, yesterday was a bad day but you took the time to find images and youtube videos of my favourite things to make me smile. it worked. rachel, for reminding me that it is all temporary, that there is no right or wrong way to live life and that i will get there eventually. byng, mark, ken, tom, rhirhi, mariana, emma, katie… anyone who has taken 5 minutes to just see how i am recently. thank you. i even have to shout out my boss because he was amazing when i told him – i’m very lucky to have a boss that doesn’t think less of me because of it – i know from other friends that this is, unfortunately, very rare.

i know you don’t all understand it, i don’t either sometimes but i am trying.

i’m learning to understand it. i’m learning how to keep trying. i’m learning to remind myself that i have survived 100% of my worse times and that no matter how many moments seem unbearable the darkness is temporary. i’m not afraid to put the work in to get better.

because that’s all i want.

to be better.

xoxo micks

 

p.s if anyone, no matter how well i know you, ever needs someone to talk to, if you ever feel this way, know you are not alone. i am here.

Suicide Prevention Month

I am going to start this post by sharing some very news… I HAVE JUST TAKEN MY LAST CRAZY PILL (or as normal people call them ,anti-depressant).

 

Yep, after 2 and a half years I am finally in a good enough place to feel confident enough to come off of them. It is a bit scary because, you know, part of me feels that they are the only reason I got over my depression this time, but mostly I’m proud. I’m proud I’ve got to a place that I feel strong enough to come off them and try life on my own for a while.

 

Depression can be a debilitating illness and it can be a hard thing for those that haven’t experienced to understand. When I went on to my anti-depressants a couple of years ago I was very lucky that my boss (wassup, Dennis) was someone I could be completely truthful with and we had a very honest conversation about how I was feeling after my diagnosis. In that conversation Den was also honest in that, having never suffered herself, it wasn’t something she understood and she did (and does) her best to ask questions to try and at least sympathise with what I was going through even if she couldn’t empathise. I was very lucky to have such an understanding boss and friend in her. I know friends that have not been so lucky with their line managers.

 

One of the more known commonly known symptoms of depression is having suicidal feelings / thoughts. Suicidal thoughts can completely consume you and it can feel like you have no control over anything. You get into the black hole and it can be hard to climb back out, especially without the right help. Suicide is something that has affected my family and my friends so Suicide Prevention is something that has always been close to my heart.

 

September is National Suicide Prevention Month.

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day.

 

The latest statistics from The Samaritans show that suicide is still a very big problem in the UK. Female suicides are at their highest rate in the UK since 2011, in England since 2005. Female suicides have increased (by 8.3%) whilst Male suicides have decreased (by 5.6%). Having said that the highest suicide rate was still found in Men – those aged between 45 and 49.

 

These latest figures published are figures from 2014. It shows that, in the UK alone, 6581 people committed suicide. In my opinion, that is 6581 too many.

 

There is no overnight cure for depression and suicidal thoughts will not disappear overnight. It is important for anyone suffering to get help, there are various places you can get help, it can be anonymously too if that is what you’d rather.

 

There are various factors that will contribute to someone having these types of thoughts and, as I say, they won’t disappear overnight but we can all make small differences to people without realising, often through the little things.

This month I have pledged to actively do one ‘nice’ thing a day, to make a strangers day a little brighter and my contribution to the world a little better.

I would like to suggest you do the same, below are my suggestions for a doily dose of niceness. One thing for each day of September.

 

  1. Smile at a stranger
  2. Hold the door open for someone
  3. Help someone carrying a lot of things
  4. Pay for the person behind you at the drive thru
  5. Buy a suspended coffee
  6. Pay someone a compliment
  7. Give away clothes that you don’t need
  8. Donate items to a homeless shelter
  9. Tell someone why you love them
  10. Take some treats into work for your colleagues to share
  11. Let someone go in front of you in a queue
  12. Let someone overtake you in traffic
  13. Offer someone your seat on the tube/bus/train
  14. Leave an encouraging note for a stranger to find
  15. Call your best friend/ family member just to chat
  16. Buy someone flowers, just ‘cause
  17. Leave a used book in a café for someone else to enjoy
  18. Put £1 in the next charity pot you see
  19. Make someone a tea / coffee
  20. Feedback when you receive GOOD customer service
  21. Mail someone a letter – we all like post that isn’t bills, don’t we?
  22. Share an inspiring ‘thought of the day’
  23. Listen to someone going through a hard time
  24. Exercise patience
  25. Buy a homeless person lunch
  26. Leave behind a coupon that you are not going to use next to the product that it is for
  27. Donate your time/ money to a local cause
  28. Pick up some litter – it can just be one piece!
  29. Give someone a hug.
  30. Be the first to apologise

 

 

I am going to try to do these! One a day for September – as it is now the 6th clearly I have some catching up to do!

 

You can also show your support for Suicide Prevention by wearing something orange on 10th September and/or donate to a charity that works to provide support to those suffering suicidal thoughts and to survivors too. The work they do is so important in making sure that these people get well again.

 

Let me know your suggestions for your acts of niceness!

 

#ANDSOIKEPTLIVING

 

xoxo

 

Micks

 

 

UK charities

www.mind.org.uk

www.samaritans.org

 

These two charities provide support in the UK if you need it, or if you want to donate you can do so by clicking the links and following the instructions.

 

Other useful websites

 

www.twloha.com (featured image from their WSD campaign)

https://www.iasp.info/wspd

www.suicidepreventionapp.com

 

To Write Love On Her Arms

“You’ll need coffee shops and sunsets and road-trips. Airplanes and passports and new songs and old songs but people more than anything else. You will need other people, and you will need to be the other person to someone else, a living breathing screaming invitation to believe in better things” – Jamie Tworkowski

 

Jamie Tworkowski is not a name that many people know. I think it is a name that more people should know. He is the founder of a non-profit organisation, or charity if you will, based out of Melbourne, Florida, that focuses on giving hope and getting help for those struggling with issues such as depression and self-harm.

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source: twloha.com

 

 

The charity was founded in 2006, the name is a direct reference to the first person the organisation ever helped. A young addict who self-harmed – she wrote the word ‘fuck up’ on her arm with a razor blade. Jamie wrote an article hoping to help her get cleaned up and write ‘LOVE’ on her arms instead.

I first came across TWLOHA in, probably, 2010 around the first time I had depression. Back then, I thought it was a sign of weakness, I was in denial for a long time. I finally was diagnosed, and then – after refusing any help from the doctors – I started to look on the interweb for things that could support me and help me get better. TWLOHA came into my life then, and I have followed their journey ever since. September 2011 I was officially not depressed anymore but I still followed them because I believed in their work and what they were doing and trying to achieve. January 2014 came and I hit a downward spiral, and I was diagnosed with depression again. 2 years later I’m still on medication for it, this time around I am not ashamed to admit it, because TWLOHA have shown me that I am not alone; that there are millions of people the world over that struggle with it too. I am one of the lucky ones who got help in time, who got help before it got too bad.

 

Of course, being non-profit means they have to fundraise which they do in various ways such as by selling merch on their website; some of which you may have seen your favourite singer or celeb wearing because a lot of public names have recognised the incredible work they do and shown support for the organisation. They gain exposure through public talks, events, social media, they go on the road every year for the Vans Warped Tour in the states, and they really are helping people. There are countless people online who talk about how TWLOHA has helped them through personal struggles.

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Last year Jamie announced he would be releasing a book called “If You Feel Too Much; Thoughts on things found and lost and hoped for”; it would be a collection of his writings and blogs across the years. It was released in May but I never got around to buying it. I bought it just after Christmas. I have been slowly getting through it on my journeys to and from work and each day, Jamie gives me food for thought, makes me feel less alone and gives me hope. I would say I wished I bought it sooner, but I’m just glad I’ve got it now. I’m just over half way through now and I wanted to share some of the thoughts and things that have struck a chord with me the most in his writings, so here they are…

 

“…for love is a choice more than it is magic”

 

“I am less and less impressed by “impressive” things or people who are presented as having things figured out. I am impressed by people who are honest and kind. I am inspired by moments of vulnerability, moments of confession and compassion, moments where someone makes it clear that they are a person in need of other people and someone else makes it clear that the first person is not alone”

 

“…love is a choice as much as it is magic. Magic comes in moments, but choices stretch out over time. We make them each morning”

 

“After my first winter in NY, I learned that spring makes sense only because of winter. You notice the warm sun on your face because it hasn’t been there”

 

“I’ve become embarrassed by most things “Christian”, but I still believe in a God who loves people”

 

Be loved. Be known. Love people and know people. Be so brave as to raise a hand for help when you need it. Make friends and make sure they know they matter. Be loyal to them and fight for them. Remind them what’s true and invite them to do the same when you forget. If you do some losing or you walk with someone else in their defeat, live with dignity and grace. It is a middle finger to the darkness.

In the event that we live to be old, I doubt our last days will find us aching for success or achievements. I doubt we’ll ask for bigger names or internet followers or virtual friends. If influence comes, then let it come, but it was never the point of the story. We will look back and smile on the moments that were real, the people who knew us and the people we knew, the relationships and conversations, the days we walked together, the story that we told. We will consider the moments when we were embraced by people who loved us even at our worst. And they simply loved us not for any sort of fame but simply because our stories had joined somehow and that miracle of friendship had taken place.”

 

“…There is a car in their driveway. There is a TWLOHA sticker on the back of that car.

We don’t know whose car it is or how the sticker got there.

But we know what that sticker means.

It means that millions of people struggle with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. It means that the majority of those people never get the help they need and deserve. It means that what we do with our pain – how we respond to it – matters. It’s one of the biggest questions we get to answer in this life.

We believe it’s possible to change. We hear from people taking brave steps towards hope and help and healing. We hear from people sitting across from a counselor for the first time, people stepping into treatment and people picking up the phone to call a crisis hotline. We hear from people pursuing sobriety and stability. We believe that great help exists and we know the first step is often the hardest one to take.

If you’re struggling, please talk to someone. Its okay to ask for help. People need other people. If someone you care about is hurting, talk to them. We know it’s not always easy, but it could be the thing that changes everything.”

 

“I feel sad more than I feel happy.

I feel stuck more than I feel free.

I feel defeated more than I feel accomplished.

I feel I should have found love by now…

…so do not despair for there is more than what we feel.

There are things missing in every single room, but there is even more not missing.

So don’t be blinded by ghosts. Don’t let them glow brighter than your friends. Don’t let them glow brighter than your family. Be present. Fight to be present. Don’t live only in your head. It’s lonely and it’s dangerous.

Put your phone down for a few hours every day.

Talk to people. Look someone in the eyes and be honest and invite them to do the same.

Read a good book and watch a great film and put a song on repeat and remember who you are. Keep dreaming all your dreams. and perhaps as well some new ones.

Go to counseling if you need to go to counseling.

Take your own advice.

Take care of yourself.

Take care of the people you love.

Tell them that you love them.

 

There is much to be thankful for.”

 

 

I am thankful for Jamie. For TWLOHA. For all my family and friends that have never given up on me and that see me as I really am but love me and support me anyway. Someone who is not perfect, who struggles and stumbles through life day-to-day, who – on most days – doesn’t see the girl they think she is, who is learning to be happy in her own skin, who lives in her head more than she should, who overthinks, takes things to heart but can appear emotionally disconnected (although sometimes they do peak out from behind the wall that’s there). The girl who has no clue what she’s doing or where she’s going in life, but who is trying to have some fun along the way.

 

Lastly, if you’re struggling know that hope is real and help is real. You’re stronger than your demons; they are a part of you but they don’t define you. You’re not alone.

 

Xoxo

 

Micks