Mental Health

Ask Twice

Saying “I’m fine” is an automatic response when someone asks if I’m okay. This can be for various reasons, I don’t think people actually care, people wouldn’t understand or I don’t want to burden people with how I’m actually feeling.

Mental health is something that still has a stigma around it. How crazy is that?! Like still in this day and age we cannot talk about how we feel without the fear of being ridiculed or shamed. I know that’s not the case everywhere and it is starting to stop but it is still the main reason people say “I’m fine”.

Asking twice is where this comes into play. If you know someone is going through a hard time or is just not acting their usual selfs, let them know you’re there for them. “Are you sure you’re okay?” Or “okay, how are you really feeling?” are two phrases I’ve used but have also been asked myself. It’s scary to open up, and honestly sometimes I do feel like if I keep everything to myself it may miraculously go away. Side note: it doesn’t. It gets worse and you can feel like you are spiralling.

Remember you don’t have to know all the answers or any answers in fact. Sometimes if you’re worried about asking it can be because you don’t know the right thing to say (I’ve definitely been there and always try to avoid foot in mouth situations). By being able to ask twice and just listening it lets the person know you’re taking them seriously and that you want to listen to them.

To find out more about Time to Change’s campaign you can click here.

Remember, be kind to everyone you meet. You don’t know what people are going through.

Crissy.xo

Mental Health · Miscellaneous · Uncategorized

“I saved a life but I’m not a hero”

I’m not a hero, I’m just someone who was in the right place at the right time. On the 1st of August, my cousin went into sudden cardiac arrest which caused her heart to completely stop. I was walking back to my house after going shopping and heard my Aunty shouting/screaming me from a few windows down. I dropped my shopping and went to see what was wrong and well I saw my cousin lay there non-responsive. She had no colour, her eyes were rolled to the back of her head, no pulse or no breath.

I think I must have just went into auto pilot, I moved her so she wasn’t slumped and just started CPR. Listening to the instructions my uncle was giving me from the caller on the other end of 999. I just couldn’t think of anything else. My aunt had opened the door ready for the paramedics. They were amazing, they arrived within 5/6 minutes of being called. When the paramedic told me she was going to take over, honestly I was relieved. In my mind though, I was thinking have I done enough, will she be okay. These thoughts were constant.

In the end there ended up being 2 ground ambulances and an air ambulance. The sound of the defibrillator will haunt me for the rest for the rest of my life. Hearing the sound of that going off again and again, bringing my cousin back every time she slipped out of life again was horrendous.

She ended up in ICU in an induced coma on life support for 3 days before being moved to a critical care ward in cardiology. Seeing someone you love on life support is the hardest thing you’ll ever do. That moment again, I was just praying I’d done enough before the paramedics came to keep her going.

She’s now in recovery with the diagnosis of long qt syndrome waiting to have an ICD fitted to help her if it happens again. Today marks her second week in hospital and second week since it happened.

I’ve had Paramedics, Doctors, Specialists, family and friends call me a hero. I don’t feel like one, I was in the right place at luckily the right time. I still can’t get my head around any of the events of that day, what happened or just anything to go with it.

I don’t feel like a hero, my thoughts and my actions make me feel like a fraud. Heroes are supposed to be brave right? Every time an ambulance goes past I feel sick and can feel panic coming back. Every time I see a sign for a defibrillator my heart goes just that bit faster. I’m hoping these feelings will soon become easier to handle but what I do know is I’m just so grateful for the fact my cousin is still here.

Crissy xo

Miscellaneous · Uncategorized

Sleep Easy 2018

So on Friday the 23rd March I took part in the YMCA Sleep Easy challenge. The tag line is “sleeping rough so others don’t have too”. For me taking part in this was something out of my comfort zone. I hate being cold, not having enough sleep and generally being uncomfortable.

It’s took me a week to write this post as I wanted to ensure I wrote what I felt. In the time I spent doing this challenge I reflected a lot on things that I take for granted and also had a change of perspective.

I got there for 7pm and I met everyone, got signed in and was given two boxes to make my little ‘house’ for the night. Other people started arriving and everyone was having a chat. I didn’t actually know anyone so was just talking to a few people. There was a competition for the best decorated box, so we had a bit of a laugh painting the boxes and sticking random stuff on.

We had a bit of food, listened to some stories of how YMCA Sleep Easy will help benefit those in need and also had a couple of buskers play for us.

Around 11, everyone was settling down going to their ‘beds’. By this the time the temperature had considerably dropped and even though I had 4 lots of layers top and bottom I was still freezing.

Throughout various points of the night I wanted to cry. I was cold, uncomfortable and in pain. At around 3am I was ready to throw in the towel, my head was killing as I still hadn’t slept and I just wanted to go home. This was when it really hit me, those who live like this every single night have no choice at all.

The impact it must take on these people physically and mentally is ridiculous. Something needs to be done as this can no longer and should no longer be happening. Every person has the right to somewhere safe to live, to be healthy and to be equal. I hope that this year is the year where change begins to happen and every person who is in that situation will not have to sleep rough again.

This experience changed my perspective on so many things, including how lucky I am, what I can do to help others and how just to be a better version of me.

Here you can see a little snapshot video of my night put together by HeadStart for me.

Bye for now

Crissy.xo

Mental Health

Time To Talk Day

Time to Talk Day is an initiative from Time to Change. Time to Talk on the 1st of February is to encourage people wherever they are whether it be in a coffee shop, on a bus, at work etc to talk about Mental Health. I know what some of you may be thinking, “why on earth would you want to talk about Mental Health in these places?” Well why not?!

Having a Mental Health problem is scary at times, you feel alone and well ashamed at times because of the stigma around it. There is never a ‘right place’ to talk about most problems and issues in life but if we take the step and begin to talk about it, it may just become a little easier. People who don’t know about Mental Health Problems may just feel easier about asking about it and finding out more.

Now more than ever it is time to talk. We live in an age where so much is going on for every single person. People shouldn’t be ashamed to talk about how they’re feeling. People shouldn’t be afraid of being silenced or being judged. It’s time to continue to break the stigma and ensure that we start to be there for one another.

There isn’t really a right way to talk about Mental Health, everyone is different and will express themselves differently. It might be awkward and even silent at times. Silence is okay though. Make sure you are giving the person your full attention, don’t play on your phone or do anything that shows you aren’t listening to them.

Keep things normal, just because someone has been diagnosed with a mental illness doesn’t mean they have changed. Trust me we don’t grow two heads and we don’t have random changes. However I could potentially have two heads when I’m hungry as that’s never good! We’re still the same person, don’t treat us any different.

For me talking about my own mental health has been a struggle. In secondary school/sixth form and well university there wasn’t really anyone there for me to speak to and if I did it was “Oh you’re just a bit stressed with the work. You’ll get over it”. Over the past few years, it’s been getting slightly better. I still have the odd comments from people which I’m starting to learn to bounce off me. I’m now using my own experience to help others especially young people by volunteering with HeadStart. I’ve had the honour to talk with HRH the Duchess of Cambridge about young people and Mental Health at the recent HeadStart Learning Conference in London alongside one of my fellow ambassadors Hannah and the HeadStart Hype team.

It’s Time to Talk, it’s time for the stigma to finally be broken and it’s time for people not to have to be ashamed about how they feel. So sit have a cuppa or a coffee and a little natter. Remember it’s okay not to be okay.

Crissy x

*Photo from EBPU

fitness · Miscellaneous

My Fitness Journey so Far

For me a normal week sees me going to the gym now at least twice. If I would have told a 17 year old me I would actually love the gym she would have laughed in your face. I loved rock climbing, swimming and karate but hated P.E with a passion.

My gym story began in 2015, I decided it would be a good idea to sign up for a Great Wall Of China trek. Now I wasn’t extremely unfit but I definitely needed to up my fitness levels and work on my balance. The balance thing still hasn’t happened, I have the nickname Bambi so that should explain all.

So when I first started off training I was doing a lot of cardio, that was a good & bad thing. It did help me gain stamina and i wasn’t getting tired easily but I was losing weight easily. That was a very big issue as I’ve always been on the slim side, having a high metabolism has its issues. I knew from then on I needed to do something a little different. A little bit of a background too, 3 years ago I was on and off the verge of being hospitalised for my weight, now thankfully I’m at a steady weight and not at risk anymore.

The left is me in Nov 2015 and the right is me in Sept 2017.

It’s took a few years really but I’ve finally got into a place where 1. I’m not afraid of going to the gym & 2. I’m not afraid of putting on weight. The second one for me is a big thing for a reason I still cannot explain I was scared to put on weight but I always wanted to because I was sick of the ‘aren’t you anorexic?’ ‘You should try eating more’ ‘if I just hit you you could snap in half’ comments. I still hear those in the back of my mind sometimes but they don’t bother me as much now.

I absolutely love weight lifting. I just find something so satisfying about it. Especially when I hit a new personal best. I can admit I hate training arms/upper body. I’m not good at it and get really frustrated with myself if I fail at a set. Training legs is my favourite and if it didn’t make me walk like a penguin after I’d do it all the time but also that just isn’t feasible. So I do either a leg day then a whole body or an upper body day then a whole body. Mixing up my routine really keeps me actively going as when I used to do classes they were so repetitive and I got bored far too quick.

I’m not sure what’s next for me with my fitness journey, I’m not sure I could ever compete in a competition but I’m just going along and see where it takes me.

Do you enjoy going to the gym? Or is there something else you like to do to have ‘me time’?

Crissy x

Mental Health

Christmas and Mental Health

“Tis the season to be Jolly fa la la la” Honestly it’s the season to feel however you want to feel. Now don’t get me wrong I’m literally like buddy the elf when it comes to Christmas, you’ll hear me singing and see me trying to spread Christmas cheer. Sometimes though I do want to lock myself away and just have some me time.

Christmas season can be overwhelming and with stress levels rising it can be challenging for everyone. Crowds of people literally everywhere and just the planning and organising to see people, what to get family and friends is challenging. For myself, I love getting together with friends and family. However the crowds around the shops, making sure everyone’s cards get sent off on time are just a few of the things that can set me off.

Last year, I had one of the worst panic and anxiety attacks I’ve ever had. I was on my way to Birmingham to do some shopping, the train was packed and it just kicked off. My heart was racing, my chest was so tight that I couldn’t breathe, I couldn’t get two words out. I slumped to the floor just to feel stable as I knew I wanted to pass out. Luckily for me the people around me were so helpful but it could of been a very different story.

Anxiety and Panic attacks come in many different forms. During a panic attack:

Focus on your breathing. It can help to concentrate on breathing slowly in and out while counting to five.

Stamp on the spot. Some people find this helps control their breathing.

Focus on your senses. For example, taste mint-flavoured sweets or gum, or touch or cuddle something soft.

Try grounding techniques. Grounding techniques can help you feel more in control.

(Tips from Mind) after a panic attack try and find somewhere quiet to rest and compose yourself, if you feel like you need to eat or drink ensure you do. Self-care is seriously important!!

If you know someone who is suffering this seasonal period please try to check in with them to see how they’re doing and if they need anything. Sometimes it’s the people we’re not in contact with regularly are those who need a listening ear or a friendly face.

If you’re suffering this seasonal period remember it’s okay not to be all jolly all the time. Looking after yourself is the most important thing. Talk to someone you trust, let them know how you’re feeling and let them know if there is anything they can do to help you. Most importantly be kind to yourself, whatever you’re feeling is perfectly fine!

You can go onto Mind if you do feel overwhelmed or someone you know is feeling overwhelmed. Samaritans is also there if you need to speak to someone or if you don’t feel like you can speak you can text this number and someone will respond 07725909090.

Crissy x