Arguing on the internet (and why you should just be nice, okay?)

Let me preface this with the following:

  1. I had intended to post a ribs recipe today, not something serious (don’t worry, the recipe is coming).
  2. Anyone who knows me even the slightest knows the love I have for social media and opinions.
  3. I don’t actually like having to remind people of basic manners.

Now, with that aside, let’s talk about arguing on the internet and why your opinion, and your right to have an opinion, doesn’t mean you get to be a dick. Continue reading



It gets better

Life can be painfully hard. I’ve written before about my struggles with mental illness and ADHD, losing people I love, bullying,  sickness, alopecia and autoimmune disorder, obesity and my physical health. I’ve even at times mentioned these concurrently, each overlapping and coinciding with one (or several) others. At my lowest point I was chin-deep in undiagnosed Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Depression, I was morbidly obese and unhealthy, my hair was falling out and I was being bullied at work. But that isn’t what I want to talk about today. I think we can all agree that at some point in their lives everyone will hit rock bottom.

What I want to talk about is how happy I am.

I don’t often go out of my way to discuss how wonderful my life is these days, not least because it’s so easy to get caught up in the stresses of day-to-day living. I also don’t want to brag. Every day people go through struggles I can’t comprehend; talking about how fortunate I am for the things I have seems tacky somehow.

But here’s the real deal: I’m happy. I love my life. It is full of wonderful people and amazing experience. Yes, sometimes stuff sucks. Sometimes stuff is hard. Sometimes I cry. But I am happy. Those two things are not mutually exclusive.

The point I am trying to make is that dejection, loneliness, misery, heartache… These things aren’t permanent. They’re transient. They come and go like waves on the ocean and, like my life now, can co-exist with happiness, prosperity, pride and success. I still have alopecia and ADHD. I still have Generalised Anxiety Disorder. I. Still. Get. Sad. But there is light and hope and this is what I allow to define me.

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If you feel like you are in the dark, that there is nowhere to turn, that things will never improve then please speak to someone. A doctor, a friend, a family member, a compassionate stranger on the internet, Lifeline. Please ask for help. Asking for help is so hard it seems impossible but I promise you it is easier than carrying on alone. And it’s worth it. Always.

If you know someone who needs help please send this on. Ask them if they’re okay. Talk to them about Lifeline or seeking help. Listen to them. The suicide statistics in New Zealand are horrifying, especially among young people. If this post, or someone who reads this post, can help even one person then I have achieved everything I could hope for.

It will get better. It won’t always be this way. Kia kaha.



Blogging Collab: Nobody is alone

Today, we have a guest post from the wonderful Dee of The Restless Empire. Dee and I have been working together to bring some much-needed attention to the normality and prevalence of mental health issues. Below is Dee’s piece on her own struggles. You will also find a list of questions to get you thinking about your own journeys. We encourage everyone to have a read and share their stories in the comments or on their own pages using the hashtags below.

If anyone feels they are struggling and can’t cope you can call Lifeline 24/7 on 0800 543 354. Help is always at hand.

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The first time the term depression related directly to me I was a 17-year-old high school student. I didn’t want to go to school, this was more than any normal high school student, I was panicked at the thought of going to school. The corridors felt vast and uncaring, I felt watched and alone. I was probably paranoid. I definitely felt like I wasn’t good enough.

I don’t know what happened to my self-confidence. It up and left well before I was 17. Nobody noticed but for a large portion of high school, whether or not it was cold, I wore my school jersey. My horrid itchy maroon school jumper was like a security blanket.

Impression depression” was all it said on my doctor’s notes and prescription. There wasn’t much decision but it was a difficult conversation nonetheless. In a jovially singsong tone he told me that he was prescribing Prozac “but don’t worry it’s totally safe, you could take the whole box and you won’t overdose… you’ll just feel really unwell”.

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I stuck with my medication for several years, and then decided by myself that I was fine and didn’t need to take it. I bumbled along for years without fluoxetine and moments with it. Between my first prescription when I was 17 and latest prescription at aged 30 I’d flitted between using fluoxetine and not, largely convincing myself that everything was fine.

Driving to work last year, in tears and eating my way through a packet of chocolate biscuits I realised things most definitely weren’t great. I was frightened and panicked about work, I was tired, I was worried and I had worked myself up into a state. I was going to need to have that conversation again; I was going to need to ask for help.

Asking for help, as an adult was much easier, yet at the same time more frightening. I felt I had more to lose if people knew but realised I had more to gain. My doctor was extremely understanding and so were my near and dear. Later when things slid from bad to worse, it was my GP who ordered me to take leave and look after myself. It was my GP who suggested I take stock and look at what’s important and it was my GP who organised for me to see a psychologist and it was my GP who has worked with me to get me to a better place.

Asking for help wasn’t easy.
Living each day nervous, worried, confused and tired also wasn’t easy.
Getting up each morning knowing I was only going to get more panicked wasn’t easy.
In the end asking for help was the easiest solution.

 

Age: 31
Location: Auckland

Day Job: Retail Marketing

Diagnoses: Depression & Anxiety, dialogised age 17.

Game plan: When I feel things are getting the better of me… I try to manage sleep, exercise and surround myself with good friends. 

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Dee
xoxo

 

Dee writes regularly on mental health and all other aspects of life at TheRestlessEmpire.com, a magazine-style blog, encouraging others to write too.



My Anxiety Badger

This is my anxiety badger. He often gnaws on me in my down time. The times between tasks where I allow my mind to relax are his favourite. He worries at my the edges of my brain the way a distracted child plays with a loose thread. Leave him too long and the whole thing will unravel. Thread is a good analogy too, actually. My brain is like a huge patchwork quilt. So many colours and patterns and distractions. Warm and cocooning and familiar. But one loose thread pulled too hard and a huge hole appears. And holes in stitching are hard to fix.



On being kind to your mind

So this week is Mental Health Awareness Week and the theme is Connect. As a long term sufferer of mind quirks this hits very close to home for me.

Since the age of 16 I have suffered periodic depression. I liken it to being in a deep hole: you can see the top and that people are there but you can’t connect with them; you can’t be helped by them. You are alone.

A more recent development for me is anxiety. I have always been a worrisome person but several years ago my mind decided to start worrying about made up what ifs and it never really stopped. There’s always been one underlying issue that permeated everything I did, an identity crisis I couldn’t shake. My lowest moments came in the form of crippling panic attacks. When these struck I wasn’t even capable of walking. My temperature would climb, my heart would speed up, adrenalin would flood my body. It felt as if a hole had been punched through the middle of my chest. Then the tears and fear and panic would consume me, leaving me holding on to the floor, desperate not to fall even further into the abyss.

I understood this wasn’t normal. So I sought help. Because, you see, when it comes down to it that is all anyone can do. No one expects you to deal with your brain farts on your own. No one expects anyone to be that strong. Asking for help isn’t just okay, it’s necessary. Connecting is what gets you through.

It’s so easy to fall into the trap of keeping to yourself, burying your little pile of shit in the back of your mind and putting on a straight face. But it’s like sweeping dirt under a rug: it just relocates the issue.

The most important thing I ever learnt was to stay connected and rejoice in the little things. I enjoy sunsets. They make me happy. They don’t fix anything but every little moment of joy is a win. Every true smile helps keep the gloom monsters at bay.

Connect. Connect to people
Connect to situations. Connect to your feelings – the ones that make you happy. Get a pet. Join a club. Smile at a stranger! Just do something. Because doing nothing is how we get in over our heads. And always always ask for help.

If you need assistance start with the Mental Health Foundation of NZ website (www.mentalhealth.org.nz).
If you need quick help call Lifeline on 0508 TAUTOKO (support). They’re amazing.

Live. Laugh. Love.
Kia kaha.