An anxiety-reducing blanket?!

The other day I received a blanket in the post. However, it's not just any normal blanket but one that claims to help with anxiety. I don't know about you, but I have seen these blankets advertised around for a while and they seem to be fairly new to the market in terms of anxiety remedies.The blanket that I received weighs 15lb which is just over a stone and about 10% of my body weight (which they recommend) These claim to reduce anxiety by making you feel safe, calm and acting as a hug. I did begin to wonder how a blanket was able to do all of this and I wasn't the only one, my partner was sceptical too. But, I'm always willing to give things a try. 

I was completely surprised. I had the best sleep in a long time after using the blanket for just one night. I must admit that it is first of all, extremely comfortable albeit being very heavy. It has improved my sleep immensely and keeps you warm, especially at this time of year. It's not noisy either, if you're a person who moves around a lot like myself. I've been using the blanket for around two to three weeks now and I still definitely notice an improvement in my sleep and the comfort of such. My partner also agrees - it's often difficult to get him out of bed when he's wrapped up in it. The blanket also provides another function; to make you feel calm and relaxed, which not only can I attribute to my improvement of sleep but it certainly does help when you begin to feel anxious. It's hard to describe but the weight of blanket gives you that feeling of safety which in turn makes you feel less anxious - just trust me on this! 

I would definitely recommend the blanket as it certainly has improved my sleep, comfort and anxiety. It's not a cure to anxiety, as of course you can't take the blanket everywhere with you...but it does certainly give you moments where you can relax and be comfortable. If anything, it is a superior blanket and for it's price, I'm not sure you could find something similar. 

If you're interested, you can find out more, here and purchase the blanket via amazon, here.

Amy Xx

My year in review 2017!

Ever since I started my blog, I have done a year in review - basically where I look back at this past year. 

This year has had some big periods of change. Back in January I was in my final year of university and president of my university's mental health society. At that time too, my Mum got the news that they had found a kidney for her and that she was to go ahead for her second kidney transplant - this was two days before my first exam! It was a period of high stress for obvious reasons, but safe to say both Mum and I made it through, even though we had to be miles apart during this time. 

I continued to study for my exams throughout the year and as a result I graduated with first class honours in Law. I cried when I saw this result and so did Mum! I was so proud of myself and all of the hard work I put in. Graduation day was one of the best day I have experienced too. Now, I'm onto another course to help me advance in my career. 

I got my second paid job over the Summer, in a customer facing role which I am still in now, whilst I go through the process of my dream career (soon to be revealed!) It's not exactly where I want to be in terms of a job, but it is a process I must go through whilst I advance in my career. It has broken down many anxiety barriers too, which I am grateful for.

My new job has allowed me to move into my first flat with my partner, which is an entirely new experience; bills, council tax, food shopping, sharing a small space...it's all a learning experience, but I'm glad I made the decision as I wanted to be independent. 

Amongst other small achievements, family issues and mental health blips, it's been a pretty good year. As I grow older, the better I feel I can handle past life events. It hasn't been a year without depression and anxiety and other mental health issues, but it hasn't been one of the most severe in terms of this either. Next year is full of uncertainty and that is why I am taking it one day at a time because if I think too far ahead, then my brain goes into meltdown! 

I just want to end this post by wishing you all a lovely Christmas and the best in your recovery. Mental health can be extremely tough at times, especially at this time of year, but please hold on to the mystery that is life and the wonderful things that can happen. Remember that you do have the strength to get through the hard times - you've survived every bad day yet. I know these words may be fluffy, but I too have experienced the darkest depths and know that it's possible to be on the road to recovery, so hold on!

What are your big moments of this year?


Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year! 

Amy Xx

I'm finding it hard to talk

I've spoken so much about mental health over the past few years that you'd think that I'd be totally comfortable with the notion - and it's fair to say that I am. I'm not ashamed of it and I'm certainly not afraid at speaking out about it to raise awareness. I'm quite happy to share advice from my personal experience and help others with tips and tricks that have helped me. However, I feel my words don't seem to touch the people who are closest to me. Over the years, many friends and family members have opened up about their struggles with mental health which is great. 

The other day however, my friend had told me that they had just been put on medication and had been struggling with anxiety and depression. She was always the friend that I thought would be okay, but it just shows that anyone can be affected. She was clearly upset at the time and I could just tell how low she was and how raw the illness was at that time. It's strange though, because it was so raw it made it harder for me to find the words. I think it's because I knew exactly how she felt and how I only could hope that I could drag her out of what she was feeling. I almost felt as if I knew that whatever I said wouldn't make things better there and then. All I could do was comfort and explain that things do get better, to ask more about any support, friends and family, how she was feeling and that I have been there too. Perhaps that was all I was meant to say, but I felt much less confident in my replies. 

It's important to remember that there is no right way to comfort someone who is going through mental health struggles, but it is important to be sensitive, responsive and compassionate. When someone is in the midst of the most severe days of their illness, it does feel hard to find the words to help them through, but you just need to let them know that you are there for them and suggest any help that they can get. It's when we don't support each other that we can slip through the cracks. Talking about the most important things in life are going to be hard, especially if it takes you by surprise but it is key that the opportunity isn't missed. 

How do you feel are the best ways to talk?

Amy Xx

The dreaded 'E' word

I'll be honest, I can't stand it when I go to see a doctor about my mental health and the first thing they say to me is; 'have you tried exercise?' Now I know that they're not trying to do any harm, but from personal experience and from hearing many other people's stories, exercise is not the answer to a mental health condition. In fact when you're in a dark depressive episode and you exercise I don't find that it helps me much, if I can even get out of the door at all. 

However I have included exercise into my daily routine for a few years now and although it isn't a cure, it can make you feel a lot better. I have found that exercise too much can give you the opposite effect of what you want it to have, but including exercise into your daily routine can make you feel more awake and happier in yourself, as well of all of the benefits inside that you don't see.

What I don't agree with is people thinking that exercise is the answer to all mental health conditions, because it's not. But I do think including it somewhere in your week will make you feel a little better. Exercise can be hard, but you can also make it fun and meet new people. You don't have try and be an athlete - working at your own pace is good enough to feel the endorphins! 

Let me know what you think,
Amy Xx

I told my boss

A few months back I transferred to a new store because I moved to a new place. Settling in again is always hard. After a few weeks there I wasn't settling in as well as I thought I would.   There was always content feedback and for someone with anxiety, that can make life particularly hard. I thought that my previous store would have forwarded all of my details, but I soon found out that my new store knew nothing of my mental health condition. 

On one particular shift, I had gotten to the point of not being able to take the feedback anymore. After my boss asking how I was doing and me putting on a brave face, I broke down there and then. Now, if you know me I never cry in front of people and I had no idea that this was going to happen either, but I just couldn't hold back the way I was feeling. I explained to my boss about my condition and thankfully my boss responded with positive action that she was going to talk to the other senior members of staff to change the way in which they approached me. Over the following weeks I was happy to feel more comfortable in my job, not necessary because of my mental health being out in the open, but because the way in which I was spoken to and approached was a lot more sensitive, which has helped a lot.

I haven't seemed to feel much 'radio silence' as it were, but I do feel that there is an elephant in the room. I feel as if people don't know how to bring it up or feel awkward in doing so. But funnily enough in talking to other members of staff, they have been very open with their mental health conditions. It never fails to surprise me that someone has a mental health condition because you never see it, so you never expect it even though it is so common. 

I am glad that I recognise that I am person, who deserves respect regardless of my mental health condition and that nothing is worth worsening my mental health for. 

Amy Xx

Another new job

If you've been reading for a long time you'll know that my biggest anxiety trigger is having a job, mainly because of the fear of failure and things not being in my control. But even though this is the case, after graduation I knew I needed to get at least a part time job whilst I figure out my next step. I took each hurdle step by step from applying, to organising interviews, to having interviews and finally the job itself, knowing that whatever I wanted to do after each step was on my own terms. I could either continue or not. 

After getting a degree, you'd like to think that getting a job would be made slightly easier, especially a low skilled part time job, but that is not the case! I applied for around 100 jobs and got only three interviews of only one was successful. It's disheartening, but I was proud of my achievement and one which I knew one day would take me places other than a stock-filling job and I held this close to me to make sure I wasn't knocked down by the experience. I surprised myself more than anything. Going to interviews provided me with some much needed experience and confidence. Tasks that challenge you usually always show you that you are stronger than you think and can handle what comes your way. 

Eventually I landed myself a part time job, which I was really nervous of on the first day and when all my prior anxiety symptoms related to school came about. But, I still forged ahead and the past is history! I've learnt that you're not expected to know everything on the first day and it's okay to get things wrong. And if you do get things wrong, then nothing happens! Everyone is human and no-one is perfect and guess what? You can handle it.

So, over the next few months I hope to stick at the job I'm in, even if it is somewhat tedious in order to make the next step to my dream career. It's mind over matter.

Amy Xx 

Relationship Anxiety the second time around

How to deal with relationship anxiety


Some anxiety is typical during a relationship, especially a new one. However relationship anxiety can often result in conflict. Relationship anxiety is full of ‘what ifs’, often leading the individual with relationship anxiety to reach the conclusion that being alone is a better option. Ending a relationship before it even starts may seem drastic but for somebody with relationship anxiety, it may seem like the only choice to keep their peace of mind.

What if her friends don’t like me? What if he finds somebody better? What is the point if relationships end anyway? Are just some of the things that people with relationship anxiety may think. Just as every individual experiences general anxiety differently, people experience relationship anxiety differently too. Some may attempt to push their partner away in hopes of avoiding the relationship, whilst others may become controlling in the hopes they don’t end up getting hurt.

What should you look out for?

As previously mentioned, the signs and symptoms of relationship anxiety can vary between different people, some of the common signs to be aware of include:

      Trying to push them them away. Some people with relationship anxiety tend to act their worst to see how committed their significant other is. You might be left with the impression that they left because they simply weren’t interested but in reality you barely left them with a choice.

      Getting angry/irritable for no apparent reason. Sometimes, your partner may say or do something to provoke your anxiety. Most people with relationship anxiety, aren’t angry because of what their partner did, they are more angry over their reaction to it.

      Becoming ‘clingy’ and attached relatively quickly. When you have somebody who if there for you when you need them, whether to talk or cry or share good times with, it can be overwhelming. The problem with becoming too dependent on somebody is that they cannot always be there. You may forget how to cope alone which is essential.

      Opening up seems impossible. Some people with relationship anxiety find it extremely difficult to be honest with their partners as they worry they will leave them. Everything is worth attempting to explain; at least you’re then giving them the chance to understand.

      Insecurity and low self esteem. Many people with anxiety often feel as if they aren’t worth the person they are with. They may feel like less of a person for experiencing the things that they do. Some people with anxiety are often quick to pick up their own flaws, prompting them to think ‘why would they want to be with somebody like me?’


Can I have a stable relationship with relationship anxiety?

Of course it is possible to have a happy, healthy relationship but there are a few things you can do to ensure both of you are getting the most out of your relationship.

      Talk about how you feel. This is one of the most important things you can do, tell your partner how you are feeling and if they aren’t already aware of your anxiety, tell them. Remember, you are not a burden and honesty is key in any given relationship.

      Let them support you. It is extremely easy to want to get over any issues you may face by yourself. Yet,  if your partner did not want to help you, they wouldn’t have offered. Be open minded to their suggestions.

      Whilst letting them support you, don’t become overly dependent. Though it is important to allow your partner to support you, you must remember that they can’t ‘cure’ your anxiety. Before you get into any relationship, make sure you realise that although they can make you happy, your anxiety will not just disappear.

      Show them you are trying your best. If you tend to display your anxiety through anger and irritability, this can often have an impact on your partner and put a strain your relationship. Instead, try to show them that even though you may feel anxious, you can keep your frustration at bay. It is also important you at least try to make an effort with his friends and family even if you are feeling slightly anxious.

      Practise mindfulness techniques to keep you calm and collected. Always explore new techniques which work for you both. One common relaxation technique for anxiety is mindfulness, allowing you to better understand your surroundings and living in the moment instead of dreading any future events that could occur.

Always remember that you are worth being loved and valued and somebody with anxiety, of any sort, is worthy. It may be a long, difficult process but making it work on a mutual level with somebody you care about, is always worth it.


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5 top triggers


I find it fascinating that anxiety affects everyone in different ways and everyone has different triggers to which their anxiety is at its worst. As a way of trying to break the stigma, I thought I would share a list of things that triggers my anxiety the most. Luckily most of these won't result in a panic attack like it used to, but my anxiety can still rise:

1. Anything with a severe risk of failure! (i.e. a job, a club)

2. Eating out at restaurants

3. Being on stage

4. Food (In particular food without sell by dates, or best before, most cooked foods)

5. Loss of control (i.e. an upset with friends or family)

What are yours? Please let me know in the comments!

Amy Xx

YOUR mental health resource pack

Here I have consolidated some basic recourses and advice for your information to help you with your mental health recovery. 

1. Charities - There are some key charities that I have been in contact with when I have needed help or information. A lot of them also have online counsellors or chat lines if you are in need:

- Mind - www.mind.org.uk
- Relate - www.relate.org.uk
- Samaritans - www.samaritans.org
- Time To Change - www.time-to-change.org.uk
- NSPCC - www.nspcc.org.uk 

2. Doctors - Your best resource is to go and see a professional who can hopefully refer you to someone with specialist knowledge. I know going to the doctors is hard, but it is the most important step to take. If at first you don't succeed then try again until someone understands you. Seeing your doctor can open up so many doors. 

3. Talk - If you feel like you're not ready to talk to your doctor and even if you already have, make sure you have some people you can talk to about the problems you are going through, whether that be friends, family or someone over the internet. Don't be put off if someone doesn't understand at first as there will always be someone who does. Together, you can work to find the best solution. 

4. Mindfulness - It may not be the cure to your problem, but by taking ten minutes out of your day to just breathe and do absolutely nothing, can clear your mind to help you deal with your problems with more ease. Similarly, writing may help. 

5. Counsellors - I always think that everyone should have a counsellor because we all need some guidance sometimes. If possible, try and search the web or ask at your doctors as to what services are available on the NHS. If this is not possible, then try and search for private counsellors. These people can be your saviours. 

Amy Xx

5 things anxiety has taught me

1. You are stronger than you think - Anxiety can make you feel weak. It can make you feel worthless and that you can't do things like others can but this is not true. Anxiety is just part of your body's biological process and sometimes it can get out of control. However with all of this anxiety comes triumph because every time you learn and find a way to cope, even if you feel that you haven't. Each experience makes you stronger.

2. You're not going to die - Anxiety is your body's way of keeping you alive. Even during a panic attack when you feel you're not going to survive, it's actually the reverse that's going on in your body. I once remember my counsellor telling me that you can't actually die from a panic attack because your body is actually doing what it needs to do to keep you alive.

3. You survive, every time - Ever had a really bad anxiety episode? Well, you're here now and through it. You got over that anxiety fulfilled moment and made it through the other side when you thought you wouldn't. A weird thought, huh!

4. The mind can get confused too! - Anxiety is present to keep us safe, but sometimes our anxiety attaches itself to things that aren't actually dangerous. In a way, our minds are confused. Our body thinks there's a threat when in fact there isn't and it's about splitting this up and trying to understand the reality from what our mind believes is happening. 

5. You're not alone - Anxiety is extremely common. Everyone experiences anxiety but it just so happens that some people can have it so severely that it makes them ill and even in that case, you could name people within your group of friends with some level of anxiety disorder. You're not the only one facing this.

Stay strong,
Amy Xx 

DSA

I want to put this out there for all of those who are attending university. Unfortunately it is often not very well known, that DSA is available for students whom have long term mental illnesses that affect their daily lives, including the likes of anxiety and depression. I was a part of my university's welfare committee and when I brought it up at the meeting, the staff themselves were not aware that such a thing existed. 

DSA stands for disability student allowance and in a nutshell provides with all of the things you need to help you through university if you have a disability. In the UK this can be done through student finance. In my case, I applied through student finance before I got to university, but it can also be done during university. You have to provide them with evidence of your condition which is usually in the form of a doctors note, attend an assessment and amongst other correspondence and depending on budget, you should get the help you need. 

Amongst receiving a laptop, printer and some other things the most helpful thing for me was having access to a mental health mentor. My mentor was outstanding and was the best mentor and counsellor I have had in all the many people I have seen. It definitely helped me immensely and I would strongly recommend it because often university counselling services do not provide the in-depth service that is needed. 

I strongly recommend that you get in touch so you can get the help you need. Please don't be ashamed, it's for your benefit to get help.

Amy Xx

Anxiety poetry

Here is a poem from a reader:

Definition 
 
“What's wrong with you?” they say,
“Can't you calm down for just a moment,
Take a deep breath--
Slow down,
Get centered and
Relax.
Stop being so damn negative,
What's the worry,
What's the hurry?
You can't solve every problem,
Let it go--
Hey not so fast.
Maybe, yes just maybe
If you stopped being so damn frightened
Well then maybe for a moment 
All those fears would dissipate,
If you just stopped your overthinking 
Your hypotheticals,
Possibilities,
If you let life flow all around you
You'd have that peace you say you crave.”
 
But they are wrong.  
 
Anxiety isn't nervousness.
Anxiety isn't cowardice.
Anxiety is a call to those 
Whose eyes are open to the fight. 
 
It is a certain sensitivity
An alertness;
A war machine never idle
There’s a buzzing below the surface, 
There is no calm before this storm. 
It is the constant sentinel
Vigilant in clash with 
Paralysis,
There is no honor, 
No heroism in this struggle
Whose burden countermands reward.
 
It is not the soldier’s nature to relax.
 
It is an instinct,
It is concern for you, for me, for others,
It is a special steadfast mutiny
When
Psyche fights the soul.
 
You say it is a weakness.
You subject me to societal court martial,
Though you cavalierly create conflicts
You say I am afraid.
But those consummate in combat,
Introspective and insightful,
True veterans of life’s battles
Know,
It's fear defines the brave.

Josh Mayesh