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I've been hearing voices


As someone who has divulged the dirty details of their mental illness for almost 5 years, it’s easy to assume that I’m an open book and am no longer bound by stigma. I hate to say it, but I still am. It's not only difficult to write about what I am going through, there are things I still struggle to share with my loved ones because of fear. There are so many conversations around mental health lately, but there’s still something that people don’t want to talk about so I’m going to take one for the team in this. 

I’ve been hearing voices. 

As someone with bipolar disorder, I’ve been cursed with episodes of psychosis on top of my depressive and manic episodes. Now, when I’m feeling low, I am plagued with loud voices that tell me perverse and disturbing things. The voices try to convince me to harm myselfthey put me down at every opportunity and I can’t switch them off. This isn’t my inner voice - I can hear voices outside of my ears both gossiping about me and speaking directly to me. Thanks to my emetophobia (that’s a story for another day), I am unmedicated and can’t even take a drug to stop what I’m going through, as much as I want to. 

I only told my boyfriend a couple of months ago about what I was dealing with, otherwise it has just been a secret between my doctors and I. I'm not gonna shit you – it's been really scary. It’s like being stuck in a horror movie, as clichéd as that is. The experience can easily shift my attention from things that I’m doing, make me feel depressed, lonely, terrified and even gives me a headache. Can you imagine a day of your life where people are just yelling abuse at you when you’re just trying to walk around Tesco? That’s my realityhave to deal with the voices and live with the idea that it’s not actually real at all... yet I can’t just stop it. My options are really limited. 

I've been fearful too about telling people what I’m going through. Will people think I’m weird? Yeah, they probably will. Let’s not beat around the bush - unless you’ve experienced psychosis, quite frankly it would be odd if you didn’t think it was a little bit weird. As a result of this, in a time where people are singing about mental illness and how sad it is, psychosis is not invited to the party. People are still using words and phrases like ‘schizo’, ‘not well’ and I still occasionally hear the old: ‘there’s a place for people who talk to themselves’. As someone with bipolar disorder, I already felt like my experiences were adverse and difficult for others to understand, so of course I don’t want to chat about how a voice in my head is screaming that it’s time for me to jump in front of the train. 

Psychosis – as abstract as it is to people who have never experienced it – is not as uncommon as you think. Do you know that many people under 25 experience psychosis? Not necessarily as a result of a mental illness like bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, it’s just something that can happen for short periods of time. Yet, I never hear about those people who are ‘just like me’. There are not that many people I know with bipolar who can relate either – so it is quite isolating. 

That’s why I felt it was instrumental for me now to just say it publicly – that I’ve been hearing voices. I can complain so much about there not being conversations about serious and complex mental illness, but I’ve played a part in that by being quiet. So right now, I’m releasing my inner B&M canvas quote and ‘being the change I want to see’. 

If anyone wants to reach out for a chat, you know where I am on Twitter – just send me a message. Don’t stay alone. Let’s make the party for mental health awareness a truly inclusive one. 

The Other Side

I’m slowly and agonizingly being consumed by my depressive episode. Everyday feels longer than the last, and yet bizarrely when I glance back at the last few months it feels like they’ve flown past. I’m so aware that I’m losing my younger years to my illness. My youth is just disappearing, floating out to sea whilst I’m stranded, unaccompanied on an island with only my thoughts to wrap around me. My thoughts entangle me like deleterious knotweed – rooting me into the ground so I can’t move anymore. After this amount of time being trapped, I no longer have the motivation to even try and wriggle. I’ve tired from feeling desperate and become despondent.

I’ve made baby steps that the people around me consider progress like getting a new psychiatrist, trying new drugs – but my journey to wellness still feels flat and stagnant. Finding help for what I am going through is sickening - quite literally – I’ve found that SSRIs are not my friend and will immediately induce violent vomiting and intolerable amounts of pain. I’ve had to make the decision not to take SSRIs, because my options were to either be depressed or be depressed and vomit at the same time.

I did manage to successfully go on my first ‘night out’ of 2019, which was nerve-wracking but I did it. I actually reaped the positive effects of the socialisation for about 2 days, and then I sluggishly returned back to my slump where I just want to vegetate and isolate myself. My island is the place of nightmares, but I still choose to return time and time again – because it’s familiar.

See, that’s the complicated thing about mental health – you struggle to live with yourself because you are telling yourself that your pain is a produce of your own free will, that you’ve chosen to torture yourself. Still now when I discuss aspects of my mood I’m met with questions of ‘why don’t you just stop doing that’ or ‘why don’t you just do this’, and it’s because my common sense and my mental health are going through a bitter divorce. I can’t do anything I set my mind to, mostly because I can’t actually set my mind to things. Some days I tell myself what I’m dealing with is a choice and I can choose to heal at any stage - but most days I feel incapacitated, out of control, and locked out of my own mind and body.

I’m desperately trying to find purpose everyday to try and ‘find myself’ again, and I sometimes get excited from cool ideas that I’ve come up with – only to eventually drop them by the wayside because the negative voice tells me I can’t do it.
‘You? Throw a Halloween party? You have no friends’
‘You shouldn’t write tweets anymore – because nobody likes them’
‘You should just be quiet and exist silently’
My insecurities have graduated from being little things that occasionally crossed my mind; to becoming a bible with rules and restrictions for the way I live my life.

I am grateful for my job, and I use all of my good energy on that day-to-day. I don’t have much leftover to keep up the smiling and socialisation. I’ve really disassociated from who I really am, and I’ve written off who I was as an imposter whose skin I’ve cruelly been encapsulated in. It feels like I’m trapped in the coffin of my own life. The happy version, the put together version of me, was the person who got my job and the person who had my friends - now I just feel like I’m pretending to be her.

Sorry for the brain dump, I’m tired and I keep thinking about this ‘other side’ people promise me that I’ll come out on. If anyone comes across me on my island, and knows the way to the other side, do let me know because I’m losing faith.

Sorry




I’ve tried to write this a thousand times these past few months. I am struggling to find a way to say what I want to say, so I’m going to write this in the most uncomplicated way to get across what I’m thinking.

I feel like I owe everyone an apology. I’ve been struggling with depression for a couple of months, and I’ve become reclusive. I’m sure close ones have noticed how I’m much more removed now, and the people who follow me will have noticed from my ‘more quiet than usual’ position.

I’ve been an advocate for mental health for quite a while now, and it inspired me so much when I saw people who were encouraged by me to take positive action in their lives for their mental wellbeing. I am glad that I have been able to help people out there. However, I recognise that for a long time – especially through interviews and the media – I’ve been held up in a ‘survivor/recovery story’ kind of way. I am happy that the people who know me or know my work have been able to find inspiration in that, but it’s been a real weight on me. I feel like my own mental health is something of public interest, and because I didn’t want to let people down – I always did a fantastic job of acting like the poster girl for great mental health when realistically I was hurting.

Truth is, I am a real person with real problems. I still struggle, and I do not have all the answers. At the very least, I have a little bit of faith that things will get better.

At the moment, without discussing personal issues too much, there are real positives and negatives to my life. Unfortunately, I only feel the negatives. Every day is tiring and like a performance. I just don’t have the time to find myself more help at the moment, however I am still ploughing along and somehow coping. I am still able to keep going, it’s just taking all my energy - so don't worry about me too much.

The people who thought they knew me would never think this would be something difficult for me to do, but it really has been. All I can do is apologise to anyone who thinks I’ve been dishonest, or to the people I’ve let down. I also don’t know if I’ll want to speak about this any further after this.

I’m working on myself at the moment, so consider this a ‘BRB’ to the blog.
Again, I’m super sorry. I think I’ll always be a work in progress.

The Three-Minute Rule

Anxiety is a dreadfully fearful and isolating experience. How do you best communicate your needs to others, when you can’t quite figure out how to communicate your own needs to yourself?

As a way to manage my anxiety when I am with company, I devolved an unsophisticated, yet highly effective rule: ‘The three-minute rule’. The three-minute concept is painless, easy to administer and can help manage symptoms of anxiety – particularly when you feel an attack approach. Of course, this is just something that I use in certain high-anxiety situations and it perhaps isn’t fitting for everyone… but hear me out!

When I have moments of anxiety, I panic because I’m panicked. I often worsen my experience by overthinking: I imagine that people are going to think I am bizarre, or if I tell others that I am anxious people may believe I am fishing for attention. In those times, all I want is just a few moments to myself to try and calm myself down and relieve myself of the mental vertigo I suffer when my world is spinning out of control. I am sure we have all experienced moments where we’re feeling a little low then suddenly the people around you charge at you with an abundance of sympathy and fussiness. Sometimes people’s fussiness – even if it’s out of love – can make your experience more difficult, that’s why I started using my rule.

I tell my friends that in the times that I start to feel overwhelmed or anxious, that I just need three minutes to myself. Three minutes is just about long enough to be alone with yourself in your head and calm down a little, but short enough not to look completely withdrawn. Often there will be times where you need much longer to yourself – the three-minute rule doesn’t replace your need for uninterrupted, periods of healing space. However, the rule is a no-fuss way to try and manage anxious symptoms as they come in social situations – particularly if you are like me and gag at the idea of being fussed over.

I explained my three-minute rule with a friend just the other day. My friend suggested other ways we could communicate the three-minute rule – like holding up three fingers, a sign that is enough to show that I require space. The three-minute rule itself isn’t just advantageous for those who suffer with anxiety, but anyone who starts to become heated and overwhelmed. It is always beneficial to take a moment to deliberate over what you are going to say or consider how you respond in high-pressure situations. Everyone can benefit from those ‘no questions asked’ three minutes.

If you struggle to tell people how they can best help you when you have symptoms of anxiety, the three-minute rule can be a simplistic but valuable way to communicate your need for breathing room. It does not replace the need for space when you have particularly challenging anxiety, and it would probably not be suitable when you are experiencing an anxiety attack – however, it is an uncomplicated way to help you find peace and explain your mental health needs to those around you. I highly recommend you have a chat about the idea with your friends – it could be something useful for them too!

If you have overpowering symptoms of anxiety and are finding daily life challenging, consider visiting your local GP for advice. There are a variety of places that have great resources; you can find these on the contact page of the blog.

'Losing My Dad'

'Losing My Dad'
By Chelsea-Ann MacVicar

Losing a parent is one of the most difficult parts of anyone’s life. I lost my Dad, Jim, last year when I was 16 years old - and my life hasn’t been the same since. The night we lost him, I felt like I was dreaming and I hoped it was all just a nightmare - I didn't want to believe it.

My dad was a very kind and thoughtful man who was there day or night for anyone who needed him. He was there for everyone who needed any kind of help in life. My dad wasn't the kind of person who would take money off you or expect anything in return if you needed a favour.

My dad was a huge Greenock Morton fan and Sheffield United fan. He ran the away game buses and kept everything flowing. In honour of him, his good friend took over and has kept the supporters bus going in his memory. The fans on the bus never stop thinking of my dad; people mention him a lot and constantly speak of how genuine and kind a man he was.

Along with being a fantastic person to others, he was my dad. He taught me everything that I needed to know from being a toddler to a teenager. He wasn't my biological dad, but he took over the role of being a father to me when I was a just a few months old - and for that I am so grateful. We were very close and he treated and loved me just the same as his other daughters. Him and I had a very special bond over football; we spent every Saturday together at the home and away games. We were both Greenock Morton season ticket holders for a number of years, but when he passed I decided to give it up.
My Dad, Jim, at Sheffield
Looking back now, there are many things I regret. I regret not telling my dad about what was going on in my life as much as I should have, and I am disappointed that I never took any pictures with him. All I have left of us two is one video where he was joking around with me. He put me in our garage to show me my supposed ‘17th birthday present’… a toy car!

My dad was a joker, but he was also a thoughtful and hands-on father. My dad taught me to do my best in school even when I didn't like it. After he passed away, I completely ignored school because he wasn't there to motivate me, and now I regret not completing my final year. I also didn't go to my prom because I couldn’t have my dad there, but that I don't regret because I know that I wouldn't of enjoyed myself.

The toughest thing about losing a parent is not having them around to talk to when you need them most, or having them there to witness moments in your life. If I could speak to my dad just one last time, I’d tell him that I love and miss him very much, and that I hope I can make him proud.



I lost my dad when I was 16 years old; I'm now 17 and life still isn't the same. I am now in full-time College working in Care, making it up to him when I let him down by leaving school. I stopped attending football games at Cappielow because I couldn’t find anyone to share that experience with, but for my dad I would like to start going again, in his memory. I know that I should return, as that’s what he would’ve liked.

I am still carrying grief with me since my dad passed away and sometimes I feel that things won’t get any better or easier. To get through the hard times when I think of him most, when I’m doing something or going somewhere, I think to myself that he's still there with me. I advise anyone who is dealing with a parent’s death to talk to someone about how you feel, because it’s something that I didn’t do. I find it very difficult to open up and find someone to talk to when I need a shoulder to cry on. However, keeping my grief inside just made me feel angry and hurt; sometimes I cried myself to sleep and other times I lashed out and punched furniture. I believe now if I open up and speak about my feelings towards my dad’s death, I could help myself deal with life without him.

I will always love and remember my dad, and I am working now to come to terms with his death. It will be a long journey, but by opening up I hope I can finally find myself some peace, and make my dad proud.

Silence and Serenity

Oh blog, I have not forgotten you – I am just so busy. I know, saying you’re busy is such a boring thing to say but I have been consciously trying to keep myself from having any free moments, until today when I finally have the time to reflect and write just for myself (and you, of course).

 When I’ve not been working, I have been socialising or having adventures but I’m dedicating much more of my time now to finding balance and peace. Peace is very much my goal in life. Of course, I love trying wonderful, exciting things like reaching new heights in my career and being active – but I’ve recognised my happiness lies in the quiet moments of contentment.

The other day when I was climbing a munro, I just felt so calm – and I want to feel that moment at some point everyday. Whether it’s being in the company of someone I love and just softly enjoying being happy, or spending time in the sea - just feeling at one with the world.

I encourage you all to look for what makes your heart feel complete joy, as cheesy as it sounds. Nothing is quite as great as just feeling wonderful energy. Your happiness is so important, and you very much deserve it.

Where Did My Confidence Go?



Lately, I’ve received messages from friends who have recognized that my ‘Insta-Game’ is not as strong as it once was. If you are not well versed in low-brow millennial speak, it effectively means I have not been posting frequent, valuable content on Instagram. Instagram was a social media platform that I was rather fond of, but I was often taken aback by its competitive nature and the sad comparative feelings that follow.

Now, this is not an opinion piece on ‘Is Instagram good or bad for your mental health?’ - the topic has truly been exhausted and I doubt I have any comment to contribute that you haven’t already heard. Still, I have been paying attention to my thought patterns lately and I recognized myself falling down a negative space, and perhaps the Instagram link has re-emerged.

Last year, I was a girl on fire. I felt wonderful, I thought I looked pretty and I radiated confidence. I posted content that made me feel good. If I uploaded an image of myself, it was an image that I felt beautiful in just as I was – I didn’t want to keep up with everyone else because I accepted that I couldn’t. My best offering was myself. Recently however, I’ve been plagued with negative feelings about how I look. I have not gained weight, there have been no radical changes to my features – but I don’t feel as confident as I once did. I make less of an effort with fashion, I shun the opportunity to be in photographs, I avoid nights out and I am stuck in a pattern of wishing myself different… a little bit more toned, a little less freckly. In my mind there’s been a vanity-themed Cluedo game running overtime… where did my confidence go?

With the homecoming of the reality show ‘Love Island’, where startlingly attractive single people all date in a villa, there have been a lot of jokes made by females that they feel their self esteem has been lowered by seeing an abundance of alluring women. I think to myself: perhaps I’ve drawn these comparisons too, after all I have become an addict to this reality TV show – however, I don’t feel quite compelled to put down the biscuits and hit the treadmill after watching. Although, there is an obvious link, and it’s working on me unknowingly. A lot of us females do compare ourselves, often subconsciously. A TV show which fails to represent diversity, can quickly have us thinking – ‘so this is what beauty is’.

Which brings me to my next obvious link: the unachievable over-editing of female bodies. With social media and an image editing application - a little nip and tuck is within everyone’s grasp. We can all now represent ourselves in whatever fashion we want to, it’s just miserable that so many of us elect to conform to what we think is the image of beauty. After discussing with one of my friends recently the trend of women manipulating their images to have the ‘Kim Kardashian’ big hips and a tiny waist, I discussed how it did not make me feel better about my body type, despite having broad hips and a petite midsection too. I have the body type that many women give the illusion of or try to achieve, but I have the unsightly, realistic version – the one that comes with cellulite on my thighs, tiger stripes on my bum and ill-fitting clothes. The lack of representation of women with cellulite and stretch marks, perhaps too, is what makes me feel in many moments as ‘not attractive enough’.

I understand many of you will be hearing the tiny violins, and I apologise if it seems I have invited you all to my pity party. Some people think I am ‘lucky’ to have my body type and to be really tall with blonde hair. But most of my life I have heard comments that ‘tanned, petite brunettes are stunning’. It’s harder to see beauty in yourself, especially when you are constantly drawing comparisons. Over time it can become ingrained that if you don’t look like the popular ‘trend’ of beauty, you are not attractive. Visually, I’m essentially a big sunflower – but why would I want to be a sunflower when roses are the notoriously beautiful ones?

I believe all people should be able to style themselves however they like and do whatever makes them feel good. But am I the only one who is tired? Surely it’s not practical that we all strain to look the same with all of the same features? There’s a lack of diversity that I have always known, but when I am not making the effort to repeatedly acknowledge it – it manages to brainwash me all over again! Kim Kardashian is whom I would regard as today’s icon of ‘beauty’, but that doesn’t mean we are not gorgeous human beings because of our own ways. It’s cliché but it needs reiterated time and time again that all races, all sizes and all people with all kinds of features are beautiful in their own way. The beauty standard changes as time goes on - once we believed stick-thin models were the most beautiful, now it’s women with specific curves. We can’t expect ourselves to constantly evolve how we look to keep up with what the media and society regard as ‘gorgeous’.

When I round up all my thoughts, it becomes clear. I started to withdraw myself from social media because I thought I couldn’t keep up with all these tan, curvy brunettes, and that I was always going to be the lanky woman with freckles. The vanity Cluedo gives it up: I have been indoctrinated once again.

I addressed my toxic thinking just last year when I had noticed the brewing of low self-esteem through comparing myself. The argument I make is not new, and we all know that there are constant endorsements of unrealistic beauty standards – we have all heard this argument before. However, the sad reality is, if you don’t make the effort to stay aware of what’s going on, you could be influenced subconsciously by the repetitive images of what’s ‘beautiful’ just through exposure to it.

So starting from now: I’m going to make a conscious effort to stop dodging photos with family and friends. I am going to wear the things that I used to wear that made me feel good, and go forward intentionally oblivious to what other people are doing. I need to reaffirm to myself that the qualities that make me different, are what make me enchanting.

In a garden full of roses that I will never look like, I’ll just stick to being the sunflower.