Thursday, 28 April 2016

LIFESTYLE | I've Completed My Dissertation!

Calm Meditation App

Hello lovelies!

It's my second post this week, yippeeeee! I uploaded a post about my anti-depressant experience earlier this week, where I spoke about my sleeping improving. Since it is currently 5.02am whilst I write this, I am not so sure anymore. We will see...

Today's post is all about DISSERTATIONS. Ugh that word itself sends shivers down my spine, I am sure a lot of people also feel the same. Some people say they really enjoyed writing their dissertation but I would be completely lying if I said writing mine was an easy experience. The motivation to complete it whilst suffering from a low mood, anxiety disorder is probably the hardest thing I have ever had to go through. To the point that I thought I would never actually hand something in, it makes me feel extremely emotional about it all. 

University Dissertation

BUT I DID IT. I actually handed something in, I reached word count! It is all I could have asked for really. I feel proud of this achievement in itself. I won't lie, I am not hugely proud of the content of the dissertation. I technically could have done more, more criticism, more references, more justifications. But from an emotional and physical point of view, I did the best I could do. I just couldn't force myself to do anymore. I've not been in a good way this semester, and I still fear I won't actually graduate this year. What will be will be. If I get a 2:1, brilliant, if I get a 2:2, it won't be the end of the world. I want to focus on my happiness and health, and get on with my life.

I will tell you what got me through my dissertation...

I know I keep going on about Calm, but it really is one of my favourite favourite things in the world at the moment. Whilst I adore the book, the thing that really got me through my dissertation was the Calm App* The app aims to achieve your inner calm, through a range of different guided meditations. Meditating is something that takes a lot of practise, and I find I could definitely not do it without someone guiding me through it.

Calm Meditation App
Calm Meditation App

This app is just brilliant, for more than just calming qualities. I found that in the final week of my dissertation I was experiencing panic attacks on a daily basis, my body just wanted to shut down. I took time out when I felt like this, to participate in mediation, particularly the focus, motivation and positivity sessions. I wouldn't have made it through the dissertation without this app. 

Other meditation sessions include, creativity, forgiveness, inner strength, and self-acceptance, to name a few! Not only do they have these singular guided meditations mentioned above, they also have various meditation programmes that last 7 days. I haven't tried these out yet but I am looking to begin the '7 Days of Happiness' Programme today. I just don't feel too happy at the moment, I was really excited and happy after handing this piece of work in last week, but now I just feel kind of deflated. 

The sleep mediations are FABULOUS, whether you participate in the body scan, muscle relax, or release exercise. I find it sends me to sleep much quicker than normal, and minimises the nasty anxious thoughts you can have at night time by distracting you. I would buy this app just for this feature!

There is a free version of this app on the app store, I am not quite sure what features you receive for this because I have the upgraded subscription. I think it is definitely worth giving this free version a go, and if you like it, then upgrading to the larger app! It is about £40 per year, which per month works out really affordable, especially if it has such a big effect on your wellbeing. Let me know how you get on with it!
Positive QuoteI'd like to finish on my favourite quote. "It always seems impossible, until it's done" (yes this is my own typography hehe) 

Thanks for reading this post lovelies! Well done if you have completed your dissertation this year, you should be really proud of yourself - it is a fabulous achievement. If you are still writing away at yours, just get through the final push. YOU CAN DO IT. The after hand in feeling is pretty amazing, and I can assure you, it is totally worth it. I believe in you all! Hope you enjoy giving the calm app a go, dissertation or not - it is a brilliant way to get begin your mindfulness journey! 
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*this post contains gifted items, however all opinions are my own!* 

Monday, 25 April 2016

LIFESTYLE | My Experience With Fluoxetine

My Experience With Fluoxetine
Hello lovelies!

Hope you are all well, I am writing this post up as a sort of 'dissertation break' I know, I know, not a real break because I am STILL writing, and you would think, why the hell would you want to write any more words out Kayleigh than you already are? (edit: I have handed it in now YIPPEEEE) But honestly, it really is lovely and refreshing to type, and not really think about what I'm writing all too much, so here we are. (Naysmith, 2016) - yes, I just referenced myself, got to keep kind of in the dissertation spirit huh?

Today's post is one that I have been meaning to write up on Very Berry Cosmo for literally MONTHS. I've started this post many times too, and I could just use one of the versions that are already in my drafts, but now being on this medication for about 5 months now, I feel I can finally give you a proper 'my experience post'. 

As a like 'disclaimer' and I am sure I don't need to explain to you all that, I AIN'T A DOCTOR, and you need to consult a medical professional before you consider taking any anti-depressants, you may react differently to this medicine to how I do, so just keep in mind, that this is simply MY experience. 

For me, medication really was a last resort. I put off even the idea of even attempting to give it a go for well over a year actually. Even though the doctors and my therapist kept insisting it would be a good idea. I just didn't want to pump something else into my body, because to this day, I still think the pill / and implant is half to blame for my sudden Obsessive Compulsive Disorder outburst. TOO MANY HORMONES.

Final year at University has been a really big test for me, it has put me through anxieties and stresses that innocent little 18 year old me, (before I started Uni) even knew existed. But that is a story for another day. 

In December 2015 I was having all sorts of OCD ritual troubles, fixating on to do lists all too much, letting them take over my life basically. Lots of self-hate and anxieties if I didn't achieve enough on my lists each day, resulting in unnecessary panicking, and thus, not getting an awful lot done. It made it really hard to complete my University studies. Breaking down and crying with my University tutors on a weekly, if not daily basis was getting all too much, I was beginning to not remember a day where I hadn't cried, which obviously isn't healthy - it meant it was time to go to the doctors and ask to give medication a go.

So, what even is Fluoxetine? (the medication I always want to spell Fluoextine, WHY TRICK MY MIND)

Fluoxetine is a SSRI, basically a fancy name for an anti-depressant and you may hear it being called Prozac or Sarafem. Usually prescribed to sufferers of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Bulimia, or Bipolar, rather than anxiety or depression.  I call them my happy pill, because that is essentially what they are there for.

So, I took them home, was very anxious about taking them, read the pill pack and leaflet like a squillion times, even contemplated not taking them at all. THOSE LEAFLETS ARE SCARY MAN. But I wanted to get better. I wanted to smash my final year. So I began taking them. As the doctor said, the first two weeks you might feel rather queasy, and OH I DID. I couldn't eat an awful lot without feeling sick, which wasn't too pleasant, as you can imagine. I was also pretty much knocked out for 2 weeks also, having RIDICULOUS amounts of sleep, which really didn't benefit my 3 week University deadline extension to the max, so really do consider what you have going on before you start taking an anti-depressant.

These effects soon died off, I COULD EAT AGAIN - brilliant. But then hell was about to begin. I went from constant sleep sleep sleep sleep sleep, to NO. SLEEP. I just couldn't sleep. It said something about insomnia in the leaflet, but I don't think I quite understood it, NO SLEEP. AT ALL. I was getting about 2 hours a night (I say night, but it was 6.30am - 8.30am) I have always had quite a struggle with my sleeping abilities, so I guess if this is the way you feel, I probably wouldn't take this medication and would try another one on offer. (however not everyone has the problems I did)

I was grumpy, I was tired, but I couldn't sleep? Do you know how horrible that is? I couldn't concentrate on anything, making the one reason I went on this medication really hard. TO GET ON WITH MY UNI WORK. Sleep is a human NEED. You need sleep to function, you need sleep to heal, you need sleep to feel happy, and not anxious. How ironic of an anti-depressant huh? However, one thing I noticed was that I didn't really perform my rituals as much as I used to, and I would notice that day if I hadn't taken my pill yet, because I would start doing too many door checks, and hand washes, so this medication I feel definitely does what it is supposed to, in that sense. I JUST WANTED TO BLOODY SLEEP. 

My Experience With Fluoxetine

After lots and lots of trips to the doctors... (they check up on you a lot on this medication, and I will explain that why later) We kept saying, let's just try another month? It might not have kicked in yet.... So that is what we did. That was all great and everything but by February I was getting really TIRED of not being able to sleep. I love my doctor by the way, she understands me, and I really appreciate everything she has done for me this year.

The trouble was, 2016 didn't start off too greatly. It hasn't been too kind to me (It is on the up though!) and as much as I wanted to change medications, my doctor just wouldn't let me. She didn't think I was stable enough. When you switch medications, you would have another 2 weeks - a month of "waiting period" where I would be without anything, which at that moment in time, just wasn't an option. I balled my eyes out constantly for a good solid week after my break up in January, I don't even want to imagine AT ALL, what I would have been like if I wasn't taking this medication at that point in my life.

That's the thing now. I can't cry. I feel emotionless most of the time. Something has to be really really awful for me to even shed a small tear. I have my times where I am like 'I should be crying now' because I feel that down and horrible, but the tears just don't seem to come out at all. I feel numb, it feels weird. I don't particularly like it, but I used to cry everyday at University so I guess it can only be a good thing.

So that was it, I was stuck in this horrible position where I wanted to be able to sleep, but also to feel 'better' and not anxious. It just wasn't getting any better, I tried to do more things each day that would tire me out, little things like going for a wander into town, do some Uni work in a different environment than home. Nope. Everything seemed to not want to work. My sleeping was still awful, and it reached around March where I was like I HAVE HAD ENOUGH. I went back to the doctors and she agreed that the insomnia effects shouldn't still be occurring this far into taking the medication. We agreed that I would change medications, BUT then just wasn't a good time, because I was on work experience at Penguin for the next two weeks, and I wanted to perform my best, so it just wouldn't be a good idea!

Penguin. Oh Penguin. I feel like you have saved my life? It was a brilliant opportunity and eye-opening experience into the publicity industry. It was one of the most tiring experiences of my life. And yano what. I WAS ABLE TO SLEEEEEP. Like an average person, or even more than that! I would crash at about 9pm at night, and if you know me, that is just TOTALLY out of character. It was amazing! My sleeping has been on the improvement ever since, which has meant I haven't had to change medication which is FANTASTIC.

The thing about medication that makes me feel a bit uneasy and uncomfortable at times is the fact that it makes you 'feel better' which yes is brilliant, but it just makes me wonder what I am going to be like when I come off them. I don't want to spiral backwards, I do hope I can start weaning off them them just after University, we will see - that might be a post for another day! 

Hope you found this post interesting, I am 100% not saying you should take medication, or NEED to, to get through your mental health problems. They are not for everyone. I think they are a brilliant last resort, and yes they have caused all too many problems than they should have, but I really don't think I would have made it through my current 2016 without them! Like I previously said, you might have wonderfully sunny experiences with Fluoxetine from the word go, but it is worth considering the fact that you might not.

This medication certainly isn't for everyone, they don't really let you go on this unless you are over 18, because of the side effects, however they do let some people go on it if they REALLY need it. The medication sometimes has the tendency to cause suicidal thoughts, particularly to younger consumers. This isn't nice, and the complete opposite to why people even try anti-depressants, but it is the reason that the doctors keep such a strict eye on you in the first few stages. If you do experience any thoughts like this, DO see a doctor straight away. Bob me an email or Twitter DM if you would like any more information about this medication, and I will do my best to help you out!

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Monday, 4 April 2016

BOOKS | Calm The Mind, Change The World - #calmday

Hello lovelies!

I am excited about this blog post today, I really really am. I don't think I need to mention again that I am currently on work experience at Penguin Books.... I will try to stop going about it... but I love it so, apologies. One of my work experience tasks last week involved putting together a campaign for some of you lovely bloggers in order to scream and shout about Calm Day! (Tuesday 5th April)

Calm is a book by Michael Acton Smith, and it is honestly the most beautifully designed book I have ever seen. Whether this is through the wonderful illustrations and photography, alongside the effortlessly brilliant handwritten typography. Or the fact that it simply has the power to calm you down and take you to that happy place. (How I like to imagine what sitting on a cloud would be like... if it was yano... actually possible) 

Basically...  just picture sunny blue skies, freshly cut grass, birds tweeting, with you sat down with an ice cream in your hand, and that is where this lovely book takes you. 

Mindfulness. This word seems to keep popping up all over the place doesn't it? But what does it mean to be mindful? Google says that 'mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one's awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations.' It is about spending more time to notice the present day, rather than worrying too much about the past or the future, something that I seem to do all far too much, like a lot of people, which is probably why the book and the app are so successful.

What I love about Calm, is that it isn't really a 'book book' in the sense that you don't read it in a linear format, you can just flick to anywhere you fancy and just read on from there, depending on what mood you are in. The book is split into eight sections - Nature, Sleep, Travel, Relationships, Work, Children, Creativity and Food.

Some of the pages are more text based than others, some are very image based, some are pages for you to personally reflect on and some are informative. I basically just really love this book. It inspires me to get up and go, particularly in a creative sense, which is PERFECT for my degree.

As an OCD sufferer, I turn to this book to give me that soothing escapism that I need, I would say this book works in the same kind of way as all the adult colouring books you see around these days. I prefer this book though because I enjoy the variety it gives, which acts as an EXTRA distraction, stopping me from performing my rituals. I'm not going to talk too much about my OCD symptoms and problems in this post, but if you would like to hear more about OCD, and my story, I recently uploaded a video on Youtube. 

Hope you enjoyed this blog post, isn't this book just plain gorgeous? It is like a blogger's Instagram dream. (I have already taken plenty of opportunities to pop this on my social media) I would 100% recommend purchasing this book if you are a sufferer of anxiety, OCD, perhaps depression too, plus also maybe give the Calm app a go, I haven't tried it out yet but I have heard that it is similar to Headspace. To be honest, I think anything is worth a go at least once, you never know, it could change your life! 

If you like this Calm book, you may also enjoy I Am Here Now which is more of an activity based journal, it is black and white, but the tasks are really engaging, fun and awesome, basically an amazing way to distract a worrisome mind. 

Today's take home message is that it is okay to take a break, but more importantly, whilst you take this break, to NOT FEEL GUILTY about it when you do. I know, harder said than done, but I do think it is really important to keep in mind, in order to achieve a healthy wellbeing. Take Tuesday (tomorrow) as an opportunity to begin this journey of yours, and I would love to see how you get on!

Lots of love, stay calm, 
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*this post doesn't contain gifted items. It is something I have been working on at Penguin, however all opinions and heart eyed emoji's are my own!* 

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