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Hello 2016

This year has been a whirlwind. For me I’ve had successes and have been given a great deal of bad news. However, I won’t go into a archetypal ‘Facebook’ like list of my triumphs and pitfalls. I want to structure my reflection a little differently.

Every single year we change. Excuse the naff comparison but each year is best described as a chapter in your book - and so much is crammed into those pages. Each line signifies something that enthrals you and helps you grow. Whatever is in that chapter, whether it be negative or positive, usual or dramatic – it is never too late to start writing yourself a different story. New Year often signifies a new start for so many people and I definitely indulge in that perspective a little myself. I am well aware situations won’t change overnight for me because of a number change in the date – but it holds something morally substantial in the way that it forces us to reflect and potentially look forward.

For me, 2015 was not what I imagined it to be but I feel so fortunate to have experienced it. As I learned more about myself I broke into this centre of myself where I could see everything from the most personal perspective and create a striking sense of understanding about who I am. Apologies for the disgusting cliché but amid the hollowing heartbreak, the poor health and the repetitive urge to give up – I figured it all out.

I thought I’d have a different life. I built up these fantasies inside my head only for them to never come true. When I sleep at night, I often think about those dreams and ideals that were just never to happen and it makes me feel this crawling in my stomach. I always told myself – if you have no expectations, you can’t be disappointed but self-consciously I expected the world.

Now, at the end of this year – I feel tired. The second half of my year was a field of experimentation and rebellion. I tried so desperately to figure myself out and I used all my energy up on giving love out to others to the point where I was completely empty. So I changed my lifestyle, drastically. You could call it ‘living for myself’. I just want to rid myself of the extra effort and live in peace.

Now, I can stand back and comprehend that you can’t always get what you want even when it’s right in front of you. The reason why you can’t get what you want? Because sometimes you want the wrong thing and what is good for you – I swear - will not go by you. I had these insatiable imaginings when really they couldn’t ever work out – because they just weren’t the way my life was supposed to go. The only thing I want now is happiness. I want to feel happiness; I want to share happiness.

In 2016, I will be single which is potentially my biggest adjustment. The last part of 2015, I started looking for someone to love to only be disappointed every single time. I stopped looking for someone and took a look at myself. Serendipity was always my favourite word, if something is meant to be it will happen. I am meant to be happy. I am glad today that I am alive because it means I still have that opportunity to be happy – and really, I guess I am. My resolutions are to stop overthinking, to put my health first and to continue to spread kindness to every single person.

I hope 2016 is your year, stay strong and open your eyes to every experience in the wonderful book of your life.

Also, Justin Bieber released an immense album and redeemed himself this year – if he can do that you can slay every single thing you want to next year, promise.

Christmas: A Holiday of Love and Togetherness

Today is Christmas Eve and I am writing because I felt this holiday deserved a blog post and give people an update on what’s going on with ‘Mimi’.

My favourite Christmas movie of all time is hands down ‘Love Actually’. The movie in a nutshell sums up experiences of love during the festive period, with a lot of happy endings and some that don’t work out as well. The movie was released over ten years ago but the message of love being all around at this time of year truly feels relevant today. I feel more inclined to let people know I love them, miss them and I let those I don’t know feel a little more welcome. Unfortunately, mental illness can mean that a lot of people don’t feel the love and cheer this season brings.

I have not been updating this blog since mid-November as I have been silently struggling with depression. I had a period of what can only be explained as rapid cycling where in the time after finishing my medication I went very high to extremely low. I’ve felt low for about a month now, it does feel like there is no way out of it I must admit. I was productive and I searched for a way to find some joy in my life again, since my break-up in September I’ve invested a lot of myself in other people but now that I don’t feel as needed it makes me feel a little empty. I also found myself to be very self-destructive; talking to people I know I shouldn’t have – giving so much of my respect to those who never had the intention to return it. Giving people second chances and third chances and fourth…

I tried to take hold of my life starting with ridding myself of the negativity. I cleared my twitter feed so I could no longer have the negatives of the past looming above me. I pushed myself to go out more and socialise, leaving me with little time. I cut off those who were ‘dead weight’ in my life and were negatively impacting my mental health. I got rid of guys who wanted to date me just because I was ‘pretty’. I got rid of guys who wanted to change me.

I was making such an effort with myself and tried very much to throw myself out there and enjoy myself but it’s very difficult. I feel like I have a lot of negative things plaguing my mind but I’m clever enough to understand it’s a Bipolar Episode – but not strong enough to get out of it. I went out last Saturday to a club and I walked into a bathroom where girls sniggered at me, I walked into a room where my ex boyfriend blankly looked at me… then I was told I wasn’t allowed to leave the club because someone was stabbed. I had a big panic attack and had to leave in an ambulance. I think for me, at this moment, I realised I wasn’t coping and that things were just building up.

I’m not entirely sure what to do with myself at the moment and I feel like I’m restricting what I say a lot in this blog post, but I’m just a little exhausted. I’ve decided to attend appointments again in the hope that I can find some relief, I reckon also in the New Year that I will go back on medication, which I should stick to.

Most people around me have been blissfully unaware of my struggle and that’s okay, I guess in a really peculiar way – I’m coping with this. It’s difficult but I’m doing better each day. My kindness gets me hurt so much, and honestly I just want to feel love so badly. I have so much to give and I feel like I’m not receiving a lot of that. My friends and family have been so excellent though. I guess I’m getting through it.

Seeing a lot of people in love and happy at Christmas does make me feel slightly worse about myself, but that is to do with mental health. I think what we should all think about this Christmas is - getting people involved. So many people are fighting silent battles and do not feel great at this time of year and it’s worth making an extra effort to ensure the happiness of all this season.

My mind is so jumbled right now and I’m just so tired, but I love you all that read and I hope you all have a fantastic Christmas. I’ll write again before 2016, but until then – do what makes you happy and go that little bit further for those around you. May you all feel love ‘til your hearts burst!

Happy Christmas!

P.S. It’s puppy Daisy’s first Christmas, if that can’t warm my cold heart I don’t know what will!

'Unsaid Things' Challenge

I'm doing what I call the 'unsaid things' challenge for the next two weeks where I will post every day a poem or quote that explains something in my life, how I had felt/feel, an experience of mine or even just something that appeals to me or inspires me. 

I challenge you all for the next 14 days to post something everyday that speaks on your behalf. Whether it be a quote, poem, song, piece of art or video - anything goes! I would love to see people engage in this. Why the Challenge? Well I thought you'd be wondering that!

People with mental illnesses are often irritated further when they are under overwhelming stress. The best therapy of dealing with stress is speaking - but how do you speak out when you are too afraid? This is all about opening up with who we are as people and creating a way to communicate what we feel. Many people do this naturally every day, whether it be on a quote that you 'liked' on Facebook or a song lyric you posted on twitter. For fourteen days, try and post something daily on whichever social media platform you favour - Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat or even your own blog!

This is a way to get people communicating their feelings and it's a way for us all to learn to open up, even when we are afraid. In turn, this will raise further awareness for those who have a mental illness that means they feel crippled by their thoughts, or those who can't open up so easily.

I will be posting my challenge daily on Snapchat for the fourteen days. To see what I am saying you can add me here: Mimibunnytoes.

Please share this post and invite your friends to join. I anticipate all your posts.

My Decision To Stop Medication

After a tiring argument today with my doctor, I felt I'd talk about something that many of you may have experiences of or have particular thoughts about. As you know I am medicated for Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia, my lithium is still not an accurate dose and my antipsychotic gives me Parkinsonism - which I now get drugs for too. I had a very tough deadline and again, as you may know, I am on a Fashion Design course which means majority of the work I do is manual. Side effects mean I feel sick consistently and that I experience everything from facial tics to loss of muscle strength in my hands. It's very difficult as you can imagine, but particularly so when these drugs are no benefitting me in any shape or form.

As the drugs are at low doses still, they are not adequate enough to treat my mental health problems and so I've had to actively think of ways to help myself - inclusive of diet, exercise and meditation. I've came up with strategies to try and stop myself feeling certain ways and I use distraction techniques to help me cope with my constant psychosis. It doesn't work entirely, but it is doing more than the drugs usually do.

I made the controversial decision to stop all medication for the time being, as I am too busy to cope with the consistent side effects. As I said to my doctor - I will 'guinea pig' later on when I have less on. I am not urging anyone to follow suit, I'm sure the drugs when they are at their recommended dose they will help but I just don't have time and I'm falling behind because of physical illness. It's important to me to keep up and maintain my life as much as I can, so stopping the drugs for me was a calculated decision for the better - at least at the moment.

Inclusive of this, I have stopped all treatment altogether. I am trying desperately to get the GP off my back, but I've managed to cancel both nurse and psychiatrist appointments because they are almost every week and nothing good actually comes from that at all. I've had to make dramatic decisions - cancelling job interviews and other things of the sort because I am just not well. I'm struggling to progress with my life and the medication is not helping in the slightest, neither are the consistent appointments.

Of course, I didn't have to mention this at all to others but I felt I'd explain before everyone assumes I'm this 'unmedicated Bipolar' like Bradley Cooper's character in Silver Linings, and that I'll have some berky and attempt to kill someone. I probably won't. I just want to clarify that I'm a little better without it and I need a break before I go back to essentially torturing myself to get better.

How To Treat Someone With A Severe Mental Illness

This blog post will be somewhat controversial, but as someone who is deemed ‘seriously mentally ill’ I feel a need to speak out and give people my version of events and how I would like others to respond to my illness and I. Severe mental illness in my opinion is an illness which someone can’t control and affects them considerably, however law generally cites severe mental illness as Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia, however I personally recognize illnesses like PTSD, depression and others can be severe for various people. I feel all mental illnesses are serious, but for this post I will give personal examples related to my experiences of Bipolar Disorder and Schizophrenia.

I would also like to note that my experiences are my own and that I can only speak from a personal objective with the hope that you all familiarise and feel similarly with what I am saying. Please note that all people are different, as are all illnesses and generally as a rule of thumb – be sensitive.

Educate yourself

I can immediately say that those around me still do not know how to treat me. I am treated very differently than I am before by some, and not differently at all by others. Recognizing mental illness is the first step and it’s important to understand someone is unwell and that they may need treatment that’s different to what you would give to others off the bat. So many people in my family feel I am too normal to have a real issue and many friends say the same thing, numerous times I have been told to ‘cheer up’ from depression or ‘calm down’ from mania, or more bizarrely to ‘ignore’ my psychosis. I think to truly understand, a basic Google search will really equip you. Understanding the illness will do you the world of good as you may not feel you can relate, but you can at least try to put yourself into their shoes and break down what it is that’s troubling another.

Be Sensitive

Bipolar Disorder means I struggle a lot with my mood and I really can’t help some of my reactions and actions when I am in an episode. Schizophrenia means I can lose myself in situations and I am very much distracted by consistent nuisances that are not actually there. Believe me when I say it, but I honestly can’t help it.

I am not saying you have to think before you say anything and remember that I am unwell before you even move your lips, but learning about someone’s diagnosis and accepting that will help you a lot in how you deal with others. We all have to adapt and accept that there are things that we can’t entirely understand about one another, but we have to accommodate. Being sensitive involves remembering appropriateness in certain situations – for example, a situation that might be a trigger. Try and understand someone’s trigger and what makes them worse, along with what makes them better. Try and read the signs, and when you can’t – just be polite. It’s really difficult you know! Having someone just smile can do so much good for me and ease a lot of pain that I have to consistently feel.
Be There

I understand it’s difficult when you have so much going on, but when I message people asking if they want to grab a hot chocolate or even go a walk – I’m reaching out. My biggest trigger: Loneliness. I try so much to just contact my friends and talk, or go out and socialise because when I don’t I can become very distressed. That’s not to say that I can’t spend time with myself and enjoy my own company, but when I feel alone like nobody is available to me – that’s when I shut down and act bizarrely.

Dealing with an illness when I don’t have a significant other and all my family and friends have important things going on – makes my life so much harder. Of course it’s easy to assume that I have nurses and doctors to talk to, but it really doesn’t help. I love the company of others because it delivers sanity to me and I don’t feel just like another patient, because I’m a friend.

I know personally I am such a pain in the ass because I call my girl friends so much, but I am trying to help myself and heal myself. Believe me, I can’t just fix myself. So when you get a missed call from me, or an invite to go shopping even though I have no money… it’s because I want to feel normal and I want to experience life in the company of those who experience normality much more than I do.

Don’t Be Over Sensitive

Some people I have spoken to have changed a lot around me because they feel I need accommodation 24/7. I think you have to chill out, it’s all about reading the signs. I can feel normal! There are things that act as triggers, but there is so much that doesn’t and I can sometimes (although it feels rare now) experience normality. It’s a difficult balance, and I know it’s asking a lot – but we can all learn this through just working together.

Don’t Brush It Off

This post is detailing various ways to deal with someone who is severely mentally unwell, one of the biggest ones is please don’t assume that I am normal or that I would automatically prefer you to treat me as you do others. At the end of the day, I do need a degree of care. You think you’re doing good by treating me the same as others, but if you have for example a really offensive sense of humour – that may not work entirely well with me because I am unwell. It’s about using common sense, I love people who tell jokes but if you’re making a joke about my mental illness… I probably won’t receive it very well and it may do some damage to my health.

You Can’t Cure Us

Please, please, please remember. We are unwell for a reason, we are medicated for a reason, we have people treat us for a reason and we require so much care for a reason. Your book or your movie that you recommend, of course it’s thoughtful but don’t over exert yourself with trying to cure others with mental illness. It really won’t work! It’s almost offensive when someone tries as much as they can to cure me when they can’t, and as much as people mean well – it’s worth accepting sometimes that you can’t do miracles.

Just Ask

When in doubt on how someone would like to be treated or what to do in a situation, you could try Googling – or if they are fit enough to answer – try just asking. I welcome people’s questions and I will answer anyone, no question is a stupid question. I won’t be offended if you ask personal questions or ask ones like ‘are you okay’, because I understand that taking in the information of a mental illness can be really difficult for you too! I am a person before my illness, and I do have some lovely people skills 99% of the time. Just ask, it’ll make us both feel more comfortable.

I hope this helps all of you who have someone in your life with a ‘Severe Mental Illness’, it is very difficult but it is something that people can’t control and it’s also completely random – it can affect us all in various ways. By practicing some of these things I’ve suggested, you can actually help those who are in a bad place – and that’s healing within itself.

DAY 100 - Goodbye

Here it is, the final instalment. I pondered many ideas on what to do for this last post – I never thought I’d actually get up to Day 100 so I can’t say I’ve given it great thought. I recorded a video but as I looked back at the footage, it felt too set up. It didn’t feel like it had the natural intrigue that the original blog had. I’m sorry if all this time you’ve hated reading, but for my final day – lets go back to basics.

In the space from June to October, my mental illness has made me take a break from work and it has ended my relationship. I darted about the topics previously, and I wasn’t direct so I apologise. The industry I was in was completely wrong and I couldn’t work with the public because of how bad my psychosis got. My relationship ended around 5/6 weeks ago. Him and I were together for 2 years and adored each other and it was all quite perfect. However, he started setting up a life with a girl with an illness. He never signed up to that, and it wasn’t that we couldn’t cope – it was that it had become cruel to just cope. If I ever meet someone else, I want them to know the deal before they agree. Not just try and put up with things out of love, I want someone to know what’s happening and love them anyway. This wasn’t a case of getting ill and recovering, this was permanent and I couldn’t be a part of someone else’s life when I didn’t even know myself.

Recently, I told you about someone taking advantage of me. Someone I vaguely knew read my blog and felt I looked impressionable enough to manipulate. I was so unaware for a while, my friends were hurt by it and inevitably I was hurt by it. I may have an illness that makes me vulnerable, but as a strong-minded woman – I am clever enough to know bad news. It still hurts because I feel foolish but there are bad people in this world and we just have to deal with that. It makes me stronger.

I guess you can all understand the hard time now, right?

I will say I’ve never regretted sharing so much, although it made me vulnerable and tempted the wrong people – it just says so much more about them than it does me. I’m not a naïve person and I’m glad that I can be independent, even though I am unwell. Sharing was what brought you all a safe place in this blog. I’m so glad so many of you got to read through my journey and I hope it managed to educate you all, maybe provide a relatable story or just change your perspective. It has been such an eye-opening experience, I used to be so embarrassed that I was ill and now I am not. I know that I am a good person and that I will find the life I deserve. I’ve learned such perseverance and courage, more than anyone can imagine and I am very much recovering.

I’m in a good place right now, after a hard time – I’ve managed to navigate myself out of troubles.

The future of the blog is unclear however it will continue in some manner. Although there will not be a continuation at the moment of another 100 days, it’s been exhausting. I’m taking time out for myself and shutting down my internet. I will no longer be appearing on your feeds and if you message, I’ll try and reply when I get back. I don’t know if I’m away for 2 days or 200, but we’ll see. I just need no more days of Mimi, so I can have a day for me.

I would like to say thank-you to all who have read all these posts, whether you joined on day 10 or day 93. I’ve loved speaking with you all and sharing, and I’ve particularly loved the feedback you’ve given or the stories you’ve told me. You all inspire me so much and you are in my thoughts every single day.

We’ve been in newspapers, featured by charities, on television and on various webpages and now we’re here. I’ve enjoyed this experience so much and I’ve grew to love you all as friends not just as an audience. I never expected this to become so big, but I’m so happy it started conversations about mental health around the world. Please all continue living with the kindness that you’ve shown me, please have faith in yourself and don’t be scared to talk. You are all such inspiring individuals, and we are all working towards our own goals.

So for me, I don’t know what the next step is. I’ve never felt so lost to be honest. It’s time for my adventure. I will live in the light of love and kindness, and most importantly I will love myself. I’ve always been unpredictable, I don’t know where you will see me next or when. I hope our paths cross.

In the meantime – be strong, be loud and know that you are never on your own.