Living with a Mental Illness – Q&A

I have been thinking about how to approach the subject of my mental illness on my blog for a while now and I’ve seen a few mental health tags doing the round online so I decided to combine a few of them to bring you this Mental Health Q&A

What Mental Illness do you suffer from?
I have been diagnosed with Rapid Cycling Bipolar Disorder, which means that without treatment my moods cycle rapidly – sometimes several times a day from Mania (elation) to Depression.

When were you diagnosed?
I was first diagnosed at 25 years old in July of 2007 so this year will be my 11th year managing my Bipolar.

How were you diagnosed?
It was a long process for me. I was misdiagnosed with depression for four years and then I happened to have a doctors appointment at a time when I was manic and the doctor referred me to a psychiatrist the very next day who referred me to the Early Intervention Service – who diagnosed me as Bipolar. So I had to see one doctor, one mental health team, and two psychiatrists before I got my diagnosis.

Were you given any Medication?
Yes but again finding the right medication was a long process for me as I had a lot of issue with side effects but eventually I was prescribed a mood stabilizer for my mania and an anti-depressant for my depression. I have been on this combination for 10 years now and have no side effects and my mania is fully controlled – it is so important to take your medication correctly as prescribed.

Were you given any other treatment?
I’ve had CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) and talking therapies, which in the beginning really helped me to get a handle on my condition by making sure I recognize the signs that I’m becoming ill, I no longer have or need these treatments.

Do your friends and family know about your condition?
Most definitely. Right from the beginning, I wanted to be open about my condition, I believe that talking about mental illness informs people and breaks down any stigma attached. I also let my boyfriend know when we first got together as I believe he had a right to know before we became serious.

What impact did your diagnosis have on your life?
Before I was diagnosed I was working a good job that I enjoyed but unfortunately, my behavior was erratic and I was unable to carry out my job, as such I lost that job. I had to be on benefits for the next three years as I was unable to work which really broke my spirit and I was embarrassed by the fact that I couldn’t hold a job down.

Does your mental illness still impact your life?
Of course, but only minimally so. I am aware that I have to be kinder to myself. I’m aware that maybe I am not able to take on as much as someone without my diagnosis could. I have to make sure I give myself down time and don’t get too stressed as stress can still trigger my depression. I run my own business now and that is something I never thought I’d be able to do.

What advice would you give to someone else suffering from your condition?
If you’ve been prescribed medication – take it!! It may make you feel bad in the beginning but persevere it will be worth it. Don’t self-medicate with drugs and alcohol – I don’t really drink alcohol except for a glass of Prosecco at celebrations because I know it can impact my mood.
Be open about how you are feeling, if you’re depressed don’t hide it, tell someone so they can try to help you.

Main Misconceptions you have heard about your condition?
That we are all like TV characters with Bipolar. The media tend to only portray extreme cases of bipolar because it makes good television – we are not all homicidal maniacs and we are definitely not Psycho!
I hope this has given a little insight into what it’s like living with a mental illness.
Did I answer all the questions you may have about Bipolar? If not, leave a question below and I’ll answer it in a future post.
The Secret Girly Girl
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Re-discovering my love for reading….

Back In January 2017 I set a goal of reading 40 books throughout 2017.

Unfortunately at the close of the year I had only read 36.

I put a lot of pressure on myself to read a large amount of books to the point that I didn’t enjoy reading nearly as much as I usually do, It felt forced.

I was so intent on finishing a book that I didn’t enjoy the journey the book was taking me on.

So 2018 is going to be about enjoying the journey, and getting back to reading books for the right reason – to relax and escape into another world of my choosing.

I’m going to set realistic monthly goals and make sure that I set at least one hour aside each day to read books that I will enjoy.

We’re 3 weeks into the new year and already I’ve read some great books by Authors that I know and love.

None of the books have felt like a chore, infact I couldn’t put them down.

2018 is going to be my time to re-discover my love of reading

 

The Secret Girly Girl

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Plant Based Diet – An Update! 

So it has been a little while now since I decided to eat more of a plant based diet.I now haven’t eaten meat for seven weeks and I haven’t missed it at all.

What is even more shocking is that I have gone from snacking on Junk food and fizzy drinks on a daily basis to not having touched a chocolate bar in six weeks, and again I haven’t missed it!

I am also feeling changes to my body too!

Weight: I’ve lost half a stone (7lb), which may not seem like a lot but I never set out to lose any weight, I set out to eat healthier and think more about what I was putting into my body. I have gone down a dress size. I was a UK size 18 and now a sized16 jeans are starting to get a little baggy on me – an amazing bonus!

Energy: I have so much more energy too. Before I was eating so much sugar that I was constantly in a cycle of sugar highs and crashes. I now seem to maintain a constant energy level, which means when I get home from work I have the energy to cook a nutritious meal and do chores or some more work whereas before I was so tired I just wanted to go to bed. 

Skin: I have never had problem skin but I did used to get really oily skin on my face and dry skin on my body but now my skin feels radiant. My friend even commented on how well my skin looked which was a great complement to receive.

Bowel – Now this is going to be somewhat of an over share but I used to go to the toilet for a bowel movement around once every five days. I was always constipated (because I consumed next to no fibre) and when I did go it was often painful. Now I go daily and I no longer feel bloated or uncomfortable.

Tummy Troubles – For over three years I suffered from quite nasty Gastritis. It would sometimes get so bad that I would be in agony and go through spells where I would be sick on a weekly basis. Now that I’m not consuming as much fatty foods this seems to have cleared up.

Mood – I feel so much happier at the moment. I have more energy, I’ve lost a little weight and I’m nourishing my body which all has an impact on my mood. I never thought of myself as a great cook but now I am so much more confident in the Kitchen. I can make healthy meals, I don’t feel daunted by trying a new recipe and I’m finding new things I love to eat all the time (Puy lentils – Who’d have thought?).

I am enjoying eating the nutrients that my body needs and I really want to continue trying new foods! I think a Plant based diet is really working for me at the moment!

The Secret Girly Girl

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A Long weekend away.

Hi Guys,

Last weekend my Boyfriend and I went to London for the weekend. Partly, for pleasure but mostly for Business. We were attending London Edge on Sunday so we figured we would make the most of it.

London Edge is a trade Fair for Alternative, Gothic & Vintage fashion. It’s a chance for us to see new product releases from our existing suppliers and also to discover new brands.

We traveled down to London on Friday and stayed at the Holiday Inn at Regents Park. We were upgraded to an Executive room for free, which was nice.

I don’t know if I have mentioned it before but at home we don’t have a bath we just have a shower/wet room, so when we go away I always make the most of having a room with a bath. Before we left for London I made sure that I had stocked up on Lush Bath products and the first thing I did when we got to the hotel was run a bath.

Friday evening my Boyfriend had made plans for us for date night but didn’t tell me what they were until we got to the venue.

chris & i smiling

Every time we go to London we always try to catch a burlesque show or go to theatre and he had booked us tickets for a Burleque/variety show. It was hosted in the Rah Rah Rooms which is a Drag/Cabaret venue. There was a Burlesque troupe called the ‘It Girls’ that performed with the fantastic singer/burlesque performer Tempest Rose.

it girls blk 1

tempest sing 2

The variety show also had a comedian, a magician, a contortionist, a fire eater and an acrobatic performance on silks. It was such a fun show and we had fantastic seats, the cocktails were good too!

fire2

After the show we went to the ‘Angus Steakhouse’ for dinner. Unfortunately the meal wasn’t great. My steak was undercooked, the mash potato tasted awful and while we were there the waiters somehow managed to drop two lots of orders on the floor. The service was really slow too and they gave us the wrong bill at the end of it all.

Saturday was a nice relaxing day, we went for dinner at ‘Steak & Lobster” on Warren Street and had the most delicious steak & Ale pie – it was so good.

We then went to the ‘Grant Museum of Zoology’ at UCL. It was so interesting. They had lots of jars full of animal species and cabinets full of skeletons. They had an elephant skull that was huge, and a bell jar containing an Elephants heart that was bigger than a beach ball.

elephant

ellie heart

Cat SkeletonCow faceskulls

If you are looking for something interesting to do in London then I recommend coming for a look around, it’s free admission but you can give donations. You an also sponsor the exhibits.

After the Museum, I went to Space.NK to pick up some of the Oskia Renaissance cleansing gel and I really wanted to pick up the Becca Champagne pop but they were sold out so I purchased the Hourglass Ambient Strobe Lighting Powder is shade Euphoric, which is a really nice highlighter.

We then went back to the hotel to relax for a little while and I had another bath (with more Lush Goodies). We went out for dinner to Fat Lorenzo’s Kitchen & Bar for a nice Italian Meal.

Sunday was super busy. We went for Breakfast at the Riding House Café on Great Titchfield Street. The food here is amazing and I highly recommend the French toast with a side of Bacon. I would say it’s best to book in advance as it does get really busy (we were unable to get in at all on Saturday morning).

After breakfast we checked out of the hotel and headed to the Olympia for the London Edge show. It was nice to chat to our suppliers face to face and we placed a few orders with new suppliers, which was exciting.

After London Edge we stopped off at the Ace Café, which is a biker café. My other half has always wanted to visit, as it is well known in the biker community (my other half rides a Harley). The ace café do the best toast by the way, it was so good.

When we left the café we drove up to Birmingham for the Spring Fair (another trade show) at the NEC. We spent Monday and Tuesday at the spring fair placing orders and finding new brands. It was very tiring but lots of fun. Come Tuesday afternoon, I was so happy to be heading home. We had lots of fun in London and Birmingham so I wanted to share it with you.

I hope you enjoyed it.

The Secret Girly Girl

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