My Tips for Coping with Bipolar Disorder

My Tips for Coping with Bipolar Disorder

I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder almost a year ago now, but I knew for many years that I was struggling with it. Here are a few of the things that have helped me to balance things and cope a little better.

Find medication that works for you

This is a trial and error process. The first medications I was put on were a mixed bag – I liked my antidepressants, but the antipsychotics/mood stabilisers weren’t really doing what I needed them to. I’ve just started on a new antipsychotic with less side effects which I hope will work a little better for me, but it’s going to take a while of waiting to see how it goes. If you’re not happy with the medication that you’re on, see if you can try something else. There are a lot of options out there for you to try.

Get a routine

I find that keeping a consistent routine is really good for my mental health. It allows me to fill the time in my day appropriately and organise everything really well. As much as I like every day to be different, I find that my mental health is more consistent when my routine is consistent too.

Keep busy

When I have too much free time on my hands, I don’t feel very good, and I enter a depressive episode pretty easily. When I have a lot of things to do and I keep myself busy, I don’t have the time to wallow and I feel a whole lot better. It’s important to me to find a balance between keeping myself busy and taking on too much at once and becoming hypomanic, and sometimes that’s hard. Right now, I work full time hours Monday to Friday, so my weekdays are already pretty full. On the weekends, I like to clean, hang out with people, wander around the shops, or just treat myself to a pamper night. As long as I don’t spend too much time sitting around doing nothing, I’m golden.

Stay active

I’ll be real with you, I haven’t been to the gym in about a year. I haven’t done any intense exercise for months. But since living in Brighton, I do a lot more walking than I did before and that makes me feel a lot better. Just the simple act of walking, listening to music, and knowing that I’m keeping my body moving makes my mind feel a lot calmer. I might even stretch to a run at some point soon, you never know! Keeping the mental and physical in harmony makes all the difference for me.

Find things that relax you

Take time out to relax at the end of the day, and make sure you really do wind down to keep everything feeling steady and calm. You might do this through meditation, yoga, reading, or whatever else might work for you. Just keep it as part of your daily routine to feel calm and refreshed.

Keep your doctor updated

I regularly check in with my doctor so that we are on the same page. A doctor can recommend other things that might help me, note if I need changes to my medication, and help me to keep things balanced.

Communicate with the people around you

Talking to the people close to me about my current mental state is vital. It’s important for me so that I can tell people what I need from them and make sure we are on the same page, but it’s also important for the people around me as they can communicate any difficulties or worries they might be having about me. Sometimes other people notice changes in my mental state more than I notice them in myself, so it’s important to keep that line of communication open as it works both ways.

If you have any more tips to suggest, please do let me know what works for you!

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How to Cope with Side Effects from Medication

How to Cope with Side Effects from Medication

Coping with side effects can be an absolute pain in the neck. I really struggled with the side effects that my medications were giving me for the first few weeks of taking them, and it’s taken a while to get used to them or find solutions for them. So I’ve compiled a little post of how to deal with all those nasty little problems that can come hand in hand with starting new meds.

For those of you who don’t know, I take Sertraline and Quetiapine, which both come with some pretty nasty side effects. For the first couple of weeks of taking them, I felt like I had every side effect on the list. Most of them died down after a few weeks, but some of them stuck around, so I know how hard it can be to adjust to these kinds of things.

Make a list of the side effects that you notice

It can help to take a look at the (usually extensive) list that comes with your medications. List off all of the ones that you think you might be experiencing, and keep an eye on them. They might go away after a few weeks, but if they’re still lingering after a couple of months of taking your meds, you might be stuck with them for the duration of your course of medication.

Weigh up whether or not these side effects are worth the problems that the medication solves

Are the problems severe, or relatively minor? If they start to impact upon your day to day life, then the medications you’re taking might not be for you. But if they’re things that you can easily deal with, or things that you think are worth putting up with, then stick at it and see how you get on. Don’t give up too fast, because sometimes it takes a while for meds to start to do their job.

Are there ways that you can help to alleviate side effects?

Some side effects can be helped by other things. If you’re constipated, you can opt for laxatives (or even an adjustment of your diet for a more long-term solution!); if you get headaches, there’s always paracetamol or ibuprofen. Some problems can be helped – if you can’t figure out a home remedy, pay another visit to your doctor and see if they can suggest anything. Try your best to make the experience as comfortable as possible for yourself.

Adjust to fit your needs, and know your limits

Sometimes starting new medication means adjusting the way you do some things. For example, I know that I get short of breath easily and my eyes black out when I stand up, so I have to take these things into consideration when I’m getting about or doing activities. I also know that after I take my meds, I get sleepy and my body becomes very uncomfortable to be in – so I have to be in bed. They’re minor things, but they still take some getting used to, and it’s important to learn what your body needs (or doesn’t need) when you’re putting something new in there. Remember that some medications might not fit right with your body, and that’s okay. So if things get too much, talk to your doctor and see if there’s anything else that they can do for you.

 

 

18 Things You Can Do If You’re Feeling a Bit Crap

18 Things You Can Do If You’re Feeling a Bit Crap

Hello there. I’m feeling a bit rubbish.

After a few months of feeling gloriously good, I appear to have hit a little bit of a wall and have been feeling, to put it bluntly, a bit crap for a few weeks now. At first I thought it was just PMS, but two periods came and went and, well, here we are.

So instead of moping about and digging myself into a little hole, I thought I would share with you some of the things that I’ve been doing to make myself feel a little better while I wait for the wave of sadness to pass over me. Because we all know it isn’t going to last forever.

Self care is kind of a subjective thing, so all of these things might not work for you. But I know that the one-size-fits-all “just put a face mask on and relax” approach is a bit tiring for me now, so here’s a few fresh tips to try out if they tickle your fancy.

1. Make quick, easy comfort snacks

Sometimes I just want to curl up in bed with a bowl of cake and watch cat videos. So that’s what I do. I’ve found a really easy vegan recipe for a cake that takes less than 5 minutes to prepare and make, and I highly recommend giving it a go if you’re craving some comfort food.

1 tablespoon and 2 teaspoons of hot chocolate powder

3 tablespoons flour

3 teaspoons sugar

Pinch of salt

A sprinkling of baking powder

2-3 teaspoons oil of your choice (coconut oil is a fab one, but vegetable oil works too)

3 tablespoons milk of your choice (chocolate oat milk is delicious, as is almond)

You can add in flavourings too, it’s all down to your taste!

Whack all the ingredients into a microwavable bowl, mix them all up, and pop the bowl in the microwave for a minute and a half. And that’s it! It’s super quick and easy, and really delicious too.

2. Start a bullet journal

Bullet journalling has honestly made the biggest difference to my organisation, and my mindset. Planning out everything that I need to do every month, week, and day has helped me to tackle all tasks, no matter how big or how small, and it really helps to keep me motivated when I don’t feel my best. Plus, it’s really fun to get creative with my spreads each week, and it gives me some quiet time to myself while I plan and decorate.

3. Delve into a good book

When I started to feel down, I was plodding through Nabokov’s Lolita. As much as I was enjoying it, it become a little heavy going for me once I started to feel low, and I stopped reaching for it. I was craving something a little more lighthearted, so I switched it up. Books are a great comfort if you can pick the right ones for your mood. If you’re curious, the book I’m currently digging into is Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres – I highly recommend picking up Captain Corelli’s Mandolin by de Bernieres if you haven’t given that one a go yet, too. They’re great summer reads to dig your heels into.

4. Spend time with animals

Animals aren’t like people. They will happily sit there in silence while you weep on them or tell them all your problems, and they never ask any questions. Luckily for me, I have two snuggly guinea pigs on hand, but if you find yourself lacking in the animal department then there are some things you can do. Borrow My Doggy is a website where you can sign up to spend time with other people’s dogs, or you can always find out where your nearest animal shelter is and spend some quality time with the animals there.

5. Disconnect for a little while

Time away from your phone and social media is a cleansing experience. You don’t have to cut your phone out of your life completely, but reducing your time online can be really helpful sometimes.

6. Keep something soothing on hand

It’s easy to get overwhelmed by day to day life. I’ve found that having something small that I can distract myself with has made a big difference to my anxiety levels. This kind of thing will be different for everyone, and it might be something as simple as a little token that brings you peace, a bobble you can fiddle with, or an app that works on calming you down. I’ve tried a lot of apps targeted towards soothing anxiety, but one that I’ve found works the best for me isn’t actually made for anxiety at all. You’ve probably heard of Neko Atsume, the cat collector game. It’s available on Android and iOS, and it was kind of a hit a while back. Though I didn’t jump on the kitty collecting train the first time around, I found myself thinking about it a few days ago and decided to give it a go. The cute little animated cats and chirpy music are somehow a great comfort to me, and I’ve found solace in this strange little game over the past few days. Their faces are just so darn happy!

7. Make a list of things that you’re looking forward to

This helps me to think forwards rather than letting myself get lost in my current low mood. Don’t worry if the things that you’re excited about aren’t monumental or life changing, and don’t put any pressure on yourself to think of an exact number of things. Right now, I’m excited to start my new job, move in with my other half, and graduate, but I’m also excited to have pie for tea at some point in the near future and to use my Tesco Clubcard for the first time (yes I am a boring adult, why do you ask?). The little things can be just as exciting as the big ones, so don’t skip out on listing them.

8. Let yourself cry

That’s it, let it all out. It’s all absolutely fine. Remember that it’s okay to cry and to get frustrated, as long as you can acknowledge that this feeling isn’t going to last forever. Trying to shove these feelings to the back of our minds and pretend they’re not there isn’t helpful. Understand that your mind is having a bit of a wobble, and let it do its thing.

9. Find your comfort show, and watch it

We all have that one TV show or film that makes us feel a whole lot better when crap starts hitting the fan. For me, that’s Bob’s Burgers (it’s an adult cartoon, but without being rude. A real feel-good show you can watch with your mum), but you can throw on whatever you like. Just surround yourself with comfort from all angles.

10. Wash your sheets

Everyone loves the feeling of fresh sheets. Need I say more?

11. Don’t be tempted by sad songs

My default when I’m feeling sad is to shoot straight for my sad songs playlist, but they actually make me feel a whole lot worse. Putting on something that’s soothing but not so tear-jerking, or skipping out on the music altogether, can really help. Don’t allow yourself to sink into listening to Radiohead on repeat – I tend to gravitate towards my friend Ezra’s Proper Mellow playlist, because it’s chilled out but not sad. An all-round good combination.

12. Set small goals that are easily achievable

Giving yourself little things to achieve throughout the day, week, or month can give you something to work towards, and make you feel great when you accomplish them. Whether it’s deciding that you’ll wash up all the plates you’ve left in your room today, finishing a book by the end of the week, or saving up enough money to buy the jumper you’re lusting after by the end of the month, taking little steps towards doing the things you want to do actually add up, and can help to boost your mood.

13. Have a social media cleanup

Delete, unfollow, and unfriend. Having a declutter of your social media sites and removing all the people who you’re not in touch with anymore, make you feel a bit rubbish, or you compare yourself to can lighten up your feed and your mood. It feels like a big weight has been lifted off your shoulders when you whittle your Facebook friends list right down, trust me.

14. While you’re at it, declutter your wardrobe

Get rid of all the things you don’t use anymore. There’s no point clinging onto things that have only been sat in your cupboards and drawers for months on end. Clearing out your belongings can give you a new lease of life, I’m telling you. Get your stuff to the charity shop, or sell it if you’d like. You can use the extra cash to treat yourself to something nice.

15. Communicate your needs to others

Whether you’re gently letting your friends know that you need your space and alone time, or if you’re asking for specific help, it’s important to let the people around you know what it is that you need from them, if you need anything at all.

16. Try to go outside, or at least open your windows

Fresh air and sunshine are underrated. Even if you’re just popping into the garden to eat your breakfast or nipping to the shop to stock up on more biscuits, you might feel a real difference.

17. Keep your mind active

Even if your body isn’t up to doing much, try your hand keeping your mind active. You could try learning a new language by spending five minutes a day on a site like Duolingo, or start a free online course in something you’ve always wanted to learn. Distractions are good, and you’ll feel even more productive.

18. Don’t feel bad if the sad feelings don’t pass as soon as you’d like them to

You can follow every rule of self care in the book and still feel low. Let these feelings have their time, understand that sometimes these things are beyond your control, and just do the best that you can. There are heaps of things that can contribute to low mood, whether it’s hormones, diet, stress, or whatever else, and there’s no magic wand you can wave to make all those things disappear. Ride the wave, because it won’t last forever. You’ve got this.

 

 

A Long Awaited Diagnosis

A Long Awaited Diagnosis

Okay, so I think it’s about time that we sit down and have a conversation. Well actually, let me just make things simple by saying this.

I have bipolar disorder.

It’s a long story, so let’s try to make this short. The first time I went to the doctors with an inkling that something maybe wasn’t so right with me, I was probably around 18. I made an appointment with my doctor, sat down, and said, “I think I have bipolar disorder,” or something to that effect. After she heard me explain myself, detailing my mood swings, patterns in behaviour, and unsettledness, she answered something along the lines of “it’s quite possible.”

Now, at the ripe age of 21, newly medicated and relatively hazy, I wonder why she didn’t do anything about that possibility at the time.

I have spent the last three years in and out of doctors appointments in different cities, surgeries, and offices, repeating the same story, same symptoms, same everything. I’ve had every response you can think of, and been turned away with nothing more times than I’d like to expose the NHS for. I’ve sat in doctors’ chairs suicidal and in bits, only to be met with a horrid “oh, that’s a shame,” and a prescription to “spend time with family”.

My last doctor’s appointment was in December. I saw the same doctor I had seen three years earlier, and over the course of the previous few months, she’d promised me progress and help. I was hopeful, and desperate for a referral to anyone who could help me. I was tired of being ignored, shunned, and let down at every appointment. Doctor Guinevere promised me a kind of support that I’d never had before.

Until that final appointment.

My tears and insistent begging for help were met with nothing more than aloof responses and a sudden “what do you want me to do about it?” attitude that broke my heart. She told me that there was “no point” in referring me to an Access and Crisis team, or anyone at all for that matter. And with that, I was sent away with nothing. Again.

For my absolute glorious angel of a mother, this was the last straw. As I cried in the car on the way home, she told me, “we’re going to do this ourselves. They’re not going to do anything for you, but I’m your mother, and I’m going to fix this for you”.

Within an hour, I had my first appointment booked with a private psychiatrist.

Seeing a private psychiatrist was a world apart from the millions of appointments I’d had with GPs. I spilled my heart out, told him everything, like I usually would, except this time I got a whole hour to do it. In the 10 minutes I usually had with doctors, they would brush off my experiences and feelings, tell me it was all down to anxiety, and send me on my way. Seeing a psychiatrist gave me all the validation I needed. He understood everything I’d ever needed anyone to understand, asked all the right questions, and even had my mum in to ask about her perspective. He told me within half an hour that I had a mood disorder. By my second appointment with another psychiatrist, I was armed with a diagnosis, a prescription, and a plan for therapy. Within just two sessions, I’d been given everything that the NHS were unable to give me for years beforehand.

I am now on two different medications to balance me out. Antidepressants and antipsychotics come with a myriad of side effects that had me down and out for a good few weeks. Now I’m up and about again, feeling great, and having regular therapy.  But does it really have to come at such a cost?

I was lucky enough to go private, but most people aren’t. The NHS failed me for years, because it is underfunded and under strain – mental health services are undeniably poor, and everybody should be able to have access to the kind of treatment that I have had, but it just isn’t as easy as it seems. I have heard hundreds of stories from people who have been in, or are currently in, similar situations to mine. Mental illness deserves the same action as physical illness, and the same care and attention, without having to empty your pockets.

Now, I’m able to get on with my day to day life in the way that I should have been able to almost four years ago. It’s been a long and exhausting process, but now I’m finally where I need to be. At the end of the day, the doctors were right to tell me to spend time with family – it was my family who listened, who made sacrifices so that I could get the care I needed, and who continue to support me every day.

Mental illness stretches further than depression and anxiety. Sometimes it’s more severe than that, and sometimes people don’t want to talk about those scarier sounding diagnoses. Support for mental health needs to stretch beyond the more commonly talked about illnesses, and that’s why it’s important for me to be public about my mental illness.

If you have any questions about my diagnosis, or bipolar disorder in general, don’t be afraid to ask! Drop me a tweet and I’ll be sure to get back to you!

 

 

 

 

 

The Problem With The Tortured Artist

The Problem With The Tortured Artist

Sylvia Plath, Vincent Van Gogh, Ludwig Van Beethoven… what do all of these artists have in common?

We glorify artists riddled with mental illness, pore over their poems or paintings, and immerse ourselves in their music. We lie in wonder, weaving our ideas of their internal struggles in with their works of art, thinking how each chest-punching anxiety attack, terrifying psychotic vision, or life-ruining bout of alcoholism contributed to the masterpiece in front of us. How awestruck we are at the sight of such traumatic beauty. How admirable that they could create such delicacy from such pain, and showcase the mess inside their head with words on a page or a lick of paint on canvas. What a cause for celebration.

But when it comes to real mental illness, here, now, within the people we love, we put it to one side. We hide it, overlook it, complain when we have to live with somebody so irritable or sensitive or unpredictable. So what’s the difference?

We analyse tortured art until we’re blue in the face, trying to figure out what the artist was thinking or feeling, and diagnosing them with modern labels that just seem so obvious to us as we evaluate their work, all whilst ignoring the thoughts and feelings of the people right next to us. Once the depressed, the manic, and the psychotic put their pen to paper, brush to canvas, fingers to piano keys, something in our brains lets go of the negative stigma around mental illness, and we glorify their misery. Such hidden talent! A beautiful outlet for a tortured mind. How commendable that somebody can produce such great art inspired by, or in spite of, their mental illness. We are all too ready to applaud the artistic few who can convey their feelings through decorative means.

Art that carries the burden of mental illness, no matter its form, is fascinating and invigorating to the spectator. It lends you a peep to a world you haven’t seen before, or it acts as a relatable comfort. A praising comment here, a patronising one there. If they can do this with such a troubled mind, then why can’t X, Y, or Z compose such wonders when they suffer the same, or less? We place ourselves, or others, in the artist’s position. We fail to see the difference, to distinguish between the intricacies of what makes one person’s mental illness different from another’s, and why not everyone with a prescription for antidepressants or mood stabilisers is the next Virginia Woolf. But to the artist, this isn’t just something to hang in a gallery – it’s their everyday life. Your coffee table book is their mind pressed between pages, and your vinyl collection is the voice in their head on repeat. It’s frightening and frustrating. But they have the amazing ability to reveal their mind’s inner workings and communicate through their art. Not everyone can do that.

Mental illness isn’t necessarily the propellor of great art, as much as we like to envisage every mutilated mind finding solace in a creative outlet. It is all too often the block: the locked door against great ideas and creative freedom. It’s the head-in-hands in the office when you can’t focus on anything for more than 10 seconds, the inability to get out of bed for the interview that you really need to nail, the staring at the wall as time crawls by behind the bar of your local pub. It’s the ordinary – more so than it is the revolutionary, and it crushes creativity as often as, if not more than, it spurs it on.

Mental illness needs to be appreciated in a context outside of the artistic. Yes, admire the masterpieces. Immerse yourself in the theatre and the films sprinkled with body dysmorphia and suicide, but don’t lap it up at face value, and don’t ignore the everyday. Do not praise the tortured soul of your favourite artist and then slash the suffering barista with the same tongue. Do not compare the portrayal of one person’s mind with the reality of another’s.

We glorify the hand that mental illness plays in an artist’s life, then sneer at the same hand that taunts our neighbours. Bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and OCD are more than just a catalyst for creating art, and they need to be recognised as such. We are not all Edvard Munch. The mentally ill work regular jobs, or maybe live in supported facilities. They are the people you move away from when they talk to themselves on the bus and the ones you gawk at for being “too skinny”. There’s your tortured artist and beautifully tormented soul. A cast out member of society, made to feel alone by a lack of understanding for what they’re going through and failing mental health services. Had you known Sylvia Plath in person, you may have viewed her differently. You may have looked down upon her with the same merciless criticism that you are so quick to fire upon those in psychiatric hospitals today. It won’t do to whisper “did you hear that Becky’s brother has been sectioned?” with disdain, but then tuck yourself into bed with a copy of The Bell Jar and a great appreciation for Plath’s way with words.

As talented as the mentally ill are, we are not just your Netflix series or weekend trip to the gallery. We deserve thought and recognition more often than when you binge watch 13 Reasons Why or catch a glimpse of The Scream. We need awareness more than just one week a year. And we need the same respect and thoughtfulness that you offer to your favourite artists, no matter what our day job might be.

How To Balance Mental Health and University

How To Balance Mental Health and University

For part three of my mini-series on moving to university, we’re going to tackle the big issue – keeping a firm grasp on your mental heath and your studies at the same time. Now, if you look at my history of handling my mental health at university, I don’t seem like the best person to come to when you’re on the hunt for tips. But let me tell you, I’ve been through it all, and now I know better. These are my tips for keeping yourself above water and avoiding feeling overwhelmed, so you can sidestep the mistakes that I made and have systems in place as soon as you make the big move to somewhere new.

Register with a doctor, and go. Even if you don’t feel like you need help right this second, make sure you have a doctor for when you do hit a bump. It might help to have a little appointment to just lay the groundwork and ask about what extra help you can get when times get hard – they might be able to refer you to some local services that you can sign up to for free, whether it’s a kind of therapy or group workshops. Bear in mind that these things often have long waiting lists, so it’s best to get in there early and have these options lying as a safety blanket, rather than going when you’re desperate and can’t get the help you need.

Talk to your lecturers. I say this a lot, but it’s important. It can be too easy to skip classes without talking to members of staff about why you haven’t been turning up, and this can really have an impact on your studies. Although it seems pretty daunting pouring your heart (or your head) out to your course’s team, they’re there to help you, and they’ve seen it all before. It’s up to you how you want to do it, because you don’t necessarily have to tackle the problem in person – emails get the ball rolling too, and let your tutors know what’s going on with you. Lecturers can help you if you’re struggling with the workload, encourage you to get through an assessment you never thought you’d manage, and guide you towards other services (both on and off the university campus) that might help you. I owe Eden Sharp and Devon Campbell-Hall everything I achieved over this past year, so don’t underestimate the power of the people in the classroom!

Make use of the university’s services. You can guarantee that I’ll be making the most of that extra help as I go into my final year. Find out more about what your uni has to offer – most have free counselling services, so check out your uni’s website to get a grasp on how they can help you.

Take mini breaks at home when you need to. If you can grab a weekend at home here and there to recuperate, hang out with your pet, and get a bit of peace and quiet, then it could be pretty helpful. I find that when things are getting tough for me at uni, it’s nice to spend a few days at home to gather myself up into one piece again. If this isn’t possible for you, then keep close contact with friends and family at home if you find that this helps. They’re only ever a phone call away.

Find a happy place in your new city. For me, it’s the marina. Sitting by the sea and (if it’s a clear night) seeing some stars gives me the chance to be alone and think things through until I feel calmer and like my head makes more sense. Finding somewhere you can go to catch a breather, whether it’s a park, coffee shop, or just a particular bench, can make you feel less alone and less homesick if you’re struggling.

Keep organised with your uni work. Sometimes there can be a lot going on at once, and the more you let things pile up, the more overwhelmed you’re going to get. You might have no deadlines for weeks, and then three on the same day, so you have to organise your time properly. It might help to buy a cute planner, or download a good to-do list app so that you always know what’s going on in your life. I’ve used Wunderlist in the past and really liked it, but I’ve found that the Reminders app on iPhone is really handy too, and it’s already at your fingertips.

Take advantage of your support network. Your friends and family are there to help you, so don’t suffer in silence. A problem shared is a problem halved, and though they might not be able to wave a magic wand and make everything disappear, they can advise you on what steps to take next or simply be a shoulder to cry on. It doesn’t matter whether they’re people from home or new friends at university, as long as you know that you don’t have to go through hard times by yourself.

Got any more tips for people making the leap to university? Let me know!

Lack of Concentration

Lack of Concentration

This post is very difficult for me to write. Not because it I am opening up my veins for you all to see, but because I seem to have lost the ability to function like a normal human being.

It has been weeks, maybe even months, since I was last able to properly focus on anything. As I write this, I have been living at home for two weeks, and I have spent my days doing precisely nothing. I cannot read for the life of me. I cannot even write, so as I’m trying to put this together, my brain is completely scrambled and can’t even concentrate on what I’m trying to say. When I try to pick up my knitting, I knit one row and then can’t seem to bring myself to do any more than that. I have tried watching films, but I find myself staring blankly at the screen with no idea what’s going on. The sound of music is incredibly frustrating to me lately, and I just want it to stop as soon as I start playing it; I can’t even hear the words over my head shouting. As a result, I have spent my days staring at the ceiling in silence, or lying face down in bed, and just waiting for it to be time to go to sleep again. I find myself staring into the fridge for a good ten minutes because I can’t make sense of what I’m seeing or decide if there’s anything in there that I can eat. It’s like when you’re trying to take a picture of something and your camera just won’t focus, no matter how hard you try. My head is just that blurry and fuzzy, like I’m looking at the world through frosted glass. I can’t even tell you how much of a failure it makes me feel.

All I want is to be able to get on with doing something. I want to be able to keep busy, but I can’t. I have nowhere to go and no friends to see. It’s lonely and it’s infuriating.

I can feel myself falling further and further behind with my uni work, and it’s making me incredibly stressed, but I simply cannot focus on a single thing. For someone who tends to thrive when I’m keeping busy, this is beyond agitating. I have so many things that I want to write about, with a list of ideas as long as my arm, but every time I sit down to write I find myself completely jumbled and lost for words. I feel like I’m living down a well, lost and stuck in the dark, so far away from everybody else on the surface.

Honestly, I’m not even sure that any of this makes sense. I have tried reading back over it, but I can’t even concentrate on that enough to know if I see any mistakes, so I apologise for how much of a mess this is. Please be patient with me.