Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Coping During Quarantine

Dear Darlings, 

Since the declaration of the outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus disease), the world is in a panic and people are living in fear of uncertainty and being bombarded by the constant news about the pandemic. Everyone is going through the same thing and being concerned about this virus is understandable, but for many people suffering from mental health problems, it can worsen their mental state.

It is affecting everyone in different ways and no matter what you're upset over, it isn't invalid and you have a right to be sad. But please, don't let it consume you. Since the outbreak, my college is closed and my A-Levels, which I have worked so hard for over the past two years, has been cancelled. My 18th birthday is coming up and my plans aren't going ahead. I miss my family and the situation overall has worsened my mental health. It is really upsetting that I have spent so many nights working hard, even had sleepless nights, stressed, cried, put so much effort into these exams and now they're cancelled and I don't need to be in college anymore. It was very abrupt so of course, it has taken a toll on my mind as I am completely out of routine. But I know that it wasn't a waste. College got me out of a very dark place and I gained confidence in going out again, walking on my own and being in a classroom surrounded by a fear I had kept to myself for so long. People. As soon as it was announced I went into complete panic mode, I couldn't sleep and I would be pacing my house at 4 in the morning, my heart pounding, I couldn't stop fidgeting, my legs were like jelly and I felt like I was going crazy. And then I thought of my great-nan and my nan, who both suffer from health problems, and how I wouldn't be able to see them and the fear of the unknown of when I was next going to see them has been killing me.

Thoughts have been racing through my head non-stop, going at 100mph and I haven't been able to stop them. How am I going to cope for weeks in the house? When am I next going to see my family? What if I can't do this? What's the point? These have consumed me. I know what self-isolating does to my mind, it has destroyed me. I've went days, even weeks not wanting to speak to anyone or leave the house and what helped me was getting out the house. And the fact that I can't do that is terrifying to me. The thought of being in my bedroom, suffering from my own thoughts, is so scary and this is when I'm at most risk of relapsing.

So, I started writing a plan of things I could do to occupy myself, to give myself some sort of routine. It's the best that I can do as this situation is completely out of my control and there is nothing I can do. I have spoken to many people and this has helped me understand I am not alone. I want to tell you, the one who is reading this who is struggling, that you are NOT alone. We are all in this together and helping each other is the best thing we can do.

The government is telling us to stay at home and to wash our hands regularly. I can't express this enough, please stay inside. Do the same as me, create a new daily routine that priorities looking after yourself or trying something new. Whether that's reading, trying a new instrument, finding a new hobby like drawing etc. Whatever it is, use this time wisely. Find yourself. Learn who you are. Do you like mornings or at night? Do you enjoy the sun rising or the sunset? It can be anything, no matter how little the things are, find out what you like. Facetime family and friends. Meditate. Become more spiritual. Help people. Try yoga. Binge-watch your favourite series for the 10th time. Watch that new film you have wanted to for so long but never had the time. Listen to new music. (Judy Garland and Doris Day's music have really helped me get through this, and I promise it will put a smile on your face) Hug those around you.  Look out the window and appreciate the flowers, the sky, even just the ability to see what's outside and know that you are breathing and you are alive. Appreciate these little moments. This is what will get you through this awful time and remember, this is temporary, this will all be over soon and when it does we will appreciate life so much more. We will hug people more. We will not take for granted even just walking outside and greeting new people. Once this pain is over, we will have been a very valuable life lesson, to never take those little things for granted ever again. And if you ever need to talk, message me (Instagram @_aimeedarling_ or email me, aimeebryanxoxo@gmail.com)

Please, stay indoors. Take care of yourself. Stay safe.


Wednesday, February 19, 2020

It's Time For a Change.

I had planned to write a blog post on the 6th February which was 'Time to Talk Day' but I was really struggling with my mental health and I was very stressed due to college work. I could barely get myself out of bed let alone try and write a sentence.
But on Saturday 15th February, I was extremely shocked and deeply saddened to hear about Caroline Flack's passing. I didn't know her personally but this has hit me hard and I can't stop thinking about how she must have been feeling. Because for 4 years, anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts have consumed my mind and ruined my life. And just because someone has a blue tick next to their name doesn't mean they're immune to mental health problems. Words hurt and she had feelings. People make mistakes, we're all human, majority if not everyone has said something they regret because as humans we act impulsively. But we learn from them, this poor woman had her whole life and she wasn't perfect but is anyone? She made mistakes but was exploited by the media and it was extremely public making thousands of people think they could use their platform to bring her down, hounded by the press, relentlessly bullied by so many people. No one deserves to feel so low that they feel their only option is to take their own life. My heart breaks for her family and I hope Caroline has found her peace now.

March last year, I wrote a poem about how social media affects mental health. Only a few people have read this but I went on to to show my local MP who kindly set up a meeting and I talked about this issue, about how I want a change. I then emailed it to the NHS and it is being used in training to those who are learning about the effects of mental health. And still to this day, the problem remains. How many more people is it going to take until bullying and mental health is taken seriously and something is done about it. We need to stop preaching about it and act upon it. My family know how much mental health awareness means to me, it's my passion alongside writing and helping people. Because I know from personal experience how lonely it can be. I was diagnosed with mental health problems and it has destroyed me. So I know what it is like to feel so alone, so broken that you feel like you only have one option to escape the pain that is numbing you and it's not fair. I feel it every day, every minute, it never goes away. It's a darkness that lingers over me and torments me, bullying me, bringing me down at every chance it can get. It's a vicious cycle. But I set up this blog to help those who are sadly feeling the same thing, to show them they're not alone. I'm an empath. So stories like this hit me hard. Caroline didn't deserve this. Not only is the press to blame for this tragedy but the online bullies, the ones who use their platform to bring others down because it makes them feel good about themselves. It sickens me that someone can have that mindset and I am so angry at our society. I wish I could talk to every single bully who thought it was okay to torment Caroline and anyone else they have felt the need to bring down and ask them this. Is this worth it? Is it worth a life being taken from the world because they felt like it was the only way out to escape your cruel, vicious words. I urge those who write the words, like the pictures targeting someone's appearance, just stop before you press send. THINK about how that comment will hurt someone, how that like will make someone feel so small, and just imagine what it would be like to be on the receiving end of your words. People will preach about mental health and then it will be forgotten about within days and it needs to change. Mental health is everyday, so please let this be a wake up call that this is NOT a joke anymore and people can only take so much.

'In a world where you can be anything, be kind'

Be kinder to people. Check on your family, your friends, those around you and never stop talking about mental health. Don't just talk about it for that one day, talk about it everyday. Go out of your way and tell someone how proud you are of them, it could make their day that bit better. Life is too precious. Stop treating it like it's a one off thing because it never goes away, support is always needed no matter what.

I also want to include in this post to go over to Stephanie Davis Instagram and watch her video. Also, please sign this petition that she created to stop the exploitation of people in the public eye. https://t.co/0PDog4InRh?amp=1
We can do this and when this change happens I will cry with happiness. This is what I've wanted for the longest time. It's why I started this blog. It's why I spoke with the MP about this issue. I am still trying to speak with more people to raise more awareness. I want to do everything I can by using my writing and words to fight for a change in mental health awareness. Stephanie is doing amazing so please sign the petition and pass it on. It takes not even a minute so do it, it's so important. This is for Caroline, for those who have been affected by suicide. This is for people like me who suffer everyday with mental health problems. To those who are still on the waiting list to be seen. And, this is for the angels who are sadly not here with us, who had so much to give but the world was too cruel. We will do this.

A helpline that has really helped me in the past is 'Shout', it's a 24/7 anonymous text service and they are really friendly. Text 85258. Or call Samaritans 116 123. There is always someone to talk to and there will be someone who will listen. You are never alone.

My dm's are always open @_aimeedarling_
My personal account is @aimeebryann
Or send me an email to aimeebryanxoxo@gmail.com


Friday, December 20, 2019

Coping at Christmas

Dear Darlings, 

It’s been 3 months since I looked at my blog and it’s like I’ve blinked and Christmas is here. A time which I throughly enjoyed when I was younger but now, it’s a completely different story. Ever since my diagnosis of mental health problems, I’ve found Christmas more and more difficult to face as the years went on, more worry, dread, pressure and I have became completely overwhelmed with this. The main one being that I put so much stress on myself to be happy, just like everyone seems to be doing because its “the festive period” so I want to look joyous, excited and do so many things so I can meet other people’s expectations of happiness because of this time of the year. 

You don’t give yourself a break, you’re rushed off your feet and it’s the worst for social anxiety because there’s so many parties, social events and in general just seeing family and friends. It can be extremely tough. You over commit yourself to do things, to get a good enough of sense of what it feels like to just let go and have fun like those around you. But then you spiral into a guilt absorbed mindset, beating yourself up because you think you’ve let everyone down, because you don’t feel happy. You overanalyse situations, overthink your actions and question yourself ‘why can’t I be happy?’ ‘why can’t I feel normal?’ These questions fill your mind, nagging at you, demanding you to doubt yourself because then it’s won. You can call it a shadow, a dark cloud. I call it a bully. An internal bully who just wants to bring you down, until you believe that you’re not good enough for anyone. You lay in bed and you scroll on social media, your friend going to a Christmas market, a family member going on a Christmas night out and you think to yourself ‘they’re all having fun and what am I doing?’ Another attack from the bully, making you think what you’re doing isn’t okay, you should be having fun like these people. Why aren’t you having fun? You probably don’t deserve it otherwise you would be out doing these exact things, if only someone liked you. These are just few of the other million, racing thoughts that pounds in my head. A constant headache that doesn’t seem to go away no matter how much attention you give it. But ask yourself this, who told you this is what everyone expects from you? That you should be doing these things in order to ‘be happy’. Whatever you’re doing right now, or in a weeks time. It’s okay. There is no right or wrong and if you want to stay in bed, sit in your room, read a book then that’s okay. Nothing should ever interrupt your version of happiness by laying an expectation of what you should do. 

Because if there’s one person that will, it’s the internal bully. And you can’t let it win. Because bullies love sucking out your energy, it feeds on their own ego. Alternatively, find something you love and it doesn’t have to be just going out. Go downstairs, watch a Christmas film, listen to music, talk to a family member. You can do whatever you like as long as it makes you feel calm and doesn’t worsen your mental health. 

So take this as a reminder. To just...

You’re doing amazing. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

An Update

Dear Darlings, 

I started my blog to help others and talk openly about my struggles, to speak with people going through similar things as me and encouraging them to keep going. The week before my birthday, 5 months ago, I was not feeling my best but I pushed myself to keep working hard, starting my blog and wanting to help others. I subconsciously ignored my own mentality just excusing it off as a bad day, something that everyone has. I couldn’t accept that I was suffering because I’ve always put others first and not myself to avoid what I thought as ‘being a burden’ which was far from true. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago I was at a terrifying place in my life, I was going through one of my severe depressive episodes where I didn’t want to leave the house, talk to anyone or do anything apart from lying in bed staring at the same wall for what seemed like years. I was completely lost, broken in my own thoughts that I couldn’t think straight and told myself there was only one way to solve everything and it wasn’t healthy. There came a point when I felt so low, unable to pick myself up, felt so weak I was going to be admitted to hospital, also something I came close to doing myself when I lost all hope to find the light I needed and wanted again. That’s when I realised it wasn’t just one bad day or a few little ones, my mindset and the prolonged sadness was my depression telling me I am suffering. I didn’t take care of myself, I couldn’t look in the mirror without filling with hatred and disgust, my self harm increased and suicidal thoughts became the forefront of my mind. I was sick, my mind and heart were breaking and I didn’t help myself. I was starting to experience physical pain and symptoms due to stress and tension and having different pain from what I’ve known since my diagnosis of scoliosis. I didn’t think I would be writing another post like this, even writing dear darlings because I couldn’t even see me getting through the next hour let alone getting back into my one love which is writing, I lost interest in everything. 

Looking back at it I have no idea how I pulled myself out of such a dark, negative place and all I can is that I talked about it. I was completely lost, broken in my own thoughts that I couldn’t think straight and told myself there was only one to solve everything and it wasn’t healthy.. I’ve been clean now for 2 weeks, was feeling okay, stable and I had no idea how I pulled myself out of a place I’ve been in so many times before. There was strength inside of me so buried down by hurt and negativity that I was unable to find it for so long and it took that small step to do the most unthinkable for someone with depression. I’ve always been too scared to be happy because I knew it wouldn’t last for me, it never has done for me and I was waiting everyday for something to happen, putting myself down until it did. 

A person who was meant to be there for me, help me, promised to never leave me, did. They left without any warning and it knocked me down ackley to that lonely place. Just as I start to feel able to get through the days I was abandoned by someone who I have came to the realisation was toxic for me, the toughest realisation I’ve came to since my bullying. I couldn’t accept it. I’ve been used the past few weeks, it couldn’t have came at a worse time and it has made me feel so down about myself. I wish that happiness lasted a little longer but surely there’s a plan, that these things are meant to happen because it will make me stronger and I will learn from it. I want to focus on myself and being happy but how can I do that when I have been hurt immensely over and over, one thing happening after another and all I do is be kind to others and help them. It feels so unfair at times, I carry a good heart because that’s how I was raised. But I’ve learnt the hard way that being nice gets you nowhere. I’m the type of person who would rather be hurt and heartbroken by someone but still have them in my life because I’m too scared to be on my own. But sometimes letting them go hurts way less than holding onto a toxic person who makes you feel so crap about yourself. 

I also missed writing during the time I took a break, the distraction of being able to write my every thought down and to know it is small steps to starting my dream writing career. Right now I’m still struggling and I’ve got a long way to go, but I’m trying to get more help, I refuse to give up and I will take one day a time. 

Instagram: @_aimeedarling_
Twitter: @aimeedarlingx
Email: aimeebryanxoxo@gmail.com (any business enquires or if you need to talk to me for any reason) 

Monday, June 24, 2019

4 Years After Scoliosis Surgery


4 years ago today I was in theatre having spinal surgery to correct my 85 degree spine. I was full of nerves waiting in hospital preparing for the 10 hour operation; something that was generally life changing and without it I would have been paralysed. I have scoliosis and the procedure consisted of placing 22 screws, 2 titanium rods and 6 ribs removed and it was painful. The worst part being when the nurses had to turn me over every few hours and it was indescribable how much it hurt. I remember thinking I would be pain free after recovery but the truth is, although surgery has been the best thing I’ve ever done and it has changed the pain, I still endure it every day and it can be a struggle still as some weeks can be worse than others where all I can feel is a burning sharp sensation and my back almost feels heavy because that’s when I can feel my rods more. So I have to continue being mindful of my body and aware of my own limitations due to the rods and screws which can cause internal bone bruising from high impact activities and accidents. 

The recovery was not easy but it was absolutely worth it as I wear clothes now without having second thoughts if you could see my uneven shoulders, hips and the hump on my back visible through anything I wore. Because what I got out from it all was a scar, running from my neck down to my lower back and I am so proud of it. It is my favourite thing about myself as it tells the story of a time which affected me physically, mentally and emotionally but something I overcame and which took a lot of strength in me to do so. 

If you don’t know what Scoliosis is then it’s really important that you make yourself aware and check for any signs on yourself, friends or family. Scoliosis is when the spine curves and can twist to a ‘S’ or ‘C’ shape. The twisted vertebrae can pull the ribs around with them, which sometimes causes a lump to form on one’s back or for it to appear rounded. Other signs are uneven hips, waist and one shoulder blade that sticks out more than the other. The spine can curve either to the left or right and can happen in different parts. It may be the chest area which is called ‘thoracic’ scoliosis or it might be in the ‘lower lumbar’ area of the spine. A large thoracic curve can affect how well the lungs work, something that was impacting on my lungs since my spine was starting to crush on them towards the the end. They noticed mine when I was 9 which is considerably a young age to stop as it is typically when a person is between 10-12. I also wore a brace for 4 years for 23 hours a day but unfortunately failed to prevent the curve from increasing. I had idiopathic scoliosis meaning there is no known cause and symptoms included head being slightly off centre, my ribcage is not symmetrical, one hip was more prominent than the other, my clothes didn’t hang properly, one of my shoulder blades stuck out more than the other and I was leaning more on my left side - something I still have now and causes aches.

Everyday I feel blessed that it went successful and I’m okay. 24th June 2015 you hold a very special place in my heart.

Thursday, June 20, 2019

My Music Playlist and It's Therapeutic Effect


A year ago in August I was having the worst day mentally, I was in public and it just suddenly hit me; the shakiness in my hands, the uncontrollable instability in my legs, my heart beating so fast I thought it was going to explode out of my chest and I felt like I was trapped in a tiny box with no holes and I was gasping for air. Every noise, every person seemed to get louder and closer and my mind went into overload, people walking past looking at me whilst I had my head down wanting to scream the suffering away, to them it was just a teenage girl crying. To me I felt like I was going to die. It's a scary realisation how you think everyone knows you're having a panic attack when in reality they don't. The whole point of me saying this is because the only that calmed me down was to put in my earphones and listen to breathin by Ariana Grande, who has always been an inspiration to me. It blocked the world out and I soon forgot about the passing people giving me stares. I started to breathe to the beat of the song and take in every word Ariana was telling me. I thought she was right there, personally guiding me through the attack and reminding me to do exactly what her song title is, breathe. It may sound silly to some people but the moral of this telling is to remind you that whatever it is that calms you down during a panic attack, do it. Whether you're like me and a certain song brings back the numbness feeling and the control you thought you lost for that split second, do it, just keep breathing.

So, I began to wonder about how particular situation has became a temporary solution to my panic attacks and a way to calm me down. I began researching the benefits music has and it's therapeutic effect and I found on the 'Mind' website that..

"Researchers found that music releases dopamine, the feel-good chemical in your brain. It also found that dopamine was up to 9% higher when volunteers listened to music that they enjoyed" 

I thought this statistic was really interesting so I continued to research Dopamine and how it links in with music. Dopamine is one of the brain's neurotransmitters and chemical that ferries information between neurons. It helps regulate movement, attention, learning, and emotional responses. An international team of researchers has found evidence of dopamine in the brain playing a role in the pleasure people feel when they listen to music. In the study, 27 volunteers were given either lovedopa which is a dopamine precursor that raises the levels of the neurotransmitter in the brain, or risperidone which has the opposite effect. The researchers found that those volunteers who received levodopa reported experiencing more pleasure while listening to music than did the placebo group. They suggest their findings indicate tat Dopamine plays a major role in the pleasure sensations that people experience from listening to music.

A Greek philosopher Plato once quoted "music gives wings to mind". Who's the ancient folk tune has developed to lyrics and melody has given life to each emotions of love, laughter, compassion, heroism, wrath, fear, disgust, wonder.

There are many studies that show how music therapy help people with mood disorders, in this one mentioned we can see that music therapy is effect through methods like group therapy. Music promotes healing and helps to ease the body and mind, influencing the physical and emotion health improving quality of life. Based on observations I have looked at, many medical experts have linked music with mental health and well-being. It was found that music is an effective therapy for pain, medicine for the heart, fasten post-stroke recovery, increases immunity, enhances learning and intelligence quotient, improves memory performance, as well as concentration.

As someone who suffers with depression and has done since 13, a psychological illness that causes lack of interest in life and activities that you usually enjoy. Depression can reach people of any age and it is becoming a major concern in our society. Different facts of the music must be considerably taken in recommended by Nilsson, that the type of music used should be between 60-80 beats per minute, non-lyrical and make up of mainly string ensemble. Music has got many different genes, therefore would have a different effect on individual's mood as people relate different to music they hear. Personally when I am sad I chuck on a Spotify playlist consisting of ballads and heartfelt songs, something that will definitely exacerbate my mood. So why do that? Everyone can admit to turning to melancholy music to make us feel better at some point in our lives, and actually it can trigger positive memories that can help to life our mood. An hypothesis from social psychology is that people like to listen to music that mirrors the tone of their current life circumstances, the songs act as a sort of tuning fork for our own situations, and they resonate with us. So it doesn't matter if you enjoy metal, pop or 50's music (like me!) whatever is your preference it will elevate your mood and aid relaxation because it's something you enjoy and you're taking yourself into consideration.
For me, classical music is a huge love of mine and I see it as a winner at helping you focus . Music that has a tempo of 60 bpm increases the efficiency of the brain in processing information. I play it all the time, either softly in the background whilst doing coursework or a situation when I need to calm. Also let's not forget about the social side of music, it can stop you from feeling lonely or isolated as one of the social aspects of music is going to concert, something I recently went to and can tell you firsthand how accurate this is. It connects people as everyone is there for the same reason you are. And lastly, I use music as a motivator when cleaning around the house or studying, I'll gladly stick on a Whitney or Spice girls song and I guarantee it's motivational force gets me straight up and I soon forget about what I'm doing and how absolutely boring it is. You can't go wrong with a bit Wannabe from the spices.

These are a few of my favourite songs I thoroughly enjoy to wind down and relax.

- breathin by Ariana Grande

- Alive by Sia

- You Say by Lauren Daigle

- Scars To Your Beautiful by Alessia Cara

- Is That Alright? by Lady Gaga

- April In Paris by Doris Day

- Run To You by Lea Michelle 

- Speechless by Naomi Scott

- Love is Alive by Lea Michelle 

- Brave by Sara Bareilles 

- How Far I’ll Go by Auli’i Cravalho 

- Give Me Love by Ed Sheeran

- Better Place by Rachel Platten 

- Stand By You by Rachel Platten 

- Don’t Be so Hard on Yourself by Jess Glynne

- This Is Me by Keala Settle 

- Que Sera, Sera by Doris Day 

- Dream a Little Dream of Me by Doris Day

- 2 become 1 by Spice Girls 

- I’m Fine by Jasmine Bade 

- Recovery by James Arthur 

- Rise Up by Andra Day 

- Get Well Soon by Ariana Grande