Merry day after Christmas! I hope everyone had a wonderful and joyful holiday season, no matter where you are or what you celebrate. My day was spent exchanging presents with my family and cooking yummy food. Out of all of my family I’m one of the best cooks, so a decent chunk of my time was also spent working away in the kitchen with my uncle and grandmother (who are also really great) to make some yummy dinner and desserts for everyone. I adore cooking though, so it was time well spent. I’d love to hear how everyone spent their holidays in the comments!
This week’s Happy Talk is with Becca from Becx Blogs. She has such a wonderful mental health story, and she was so kind to supply her own photos for her interview! So all photos you see- except for the blog title photo, which was taken by myself- belong to her.
1) What has your mental health journey been like for you so far? You can tell us as much or as little as you like.
My mental health has been up and down since my teens. It’s a fairly long story since I’m 24 and don’t want to bore everyone with all the intricate details too much so I’ll make it as short as I possibly can!
When I was ages 14-16 I was in a very abusive relationship, both physical and emotional- yes at that young age! Looking back there are SO many things I would change if I could, but I realise now I was just a child. I was hurt, punched, kicked, held by the throat, as well as teased for how I look, how I talked, and just my general personality. It DESTROYED any self-confidence I had. I was finally able to remove him from my life by getting my mum involved… I had to break up with him IN FRONT of her and my stepdad from fear of what he’d do. I still got some harassment for a while after but thankfully, that went away completely. I got a new boyfriend, and went off to university.
University was hard. I moved out of my Mums and into my Nanna’s because she lived much closer to where I was studying but I still had an hour to travel there and an hour back. I was working 2 jobs around Uni to be able to afford everything I needed to. I was extremely anxious. All of the time. I rarely got time to rest, and looking back this was one of my mistakes. I was constantly on “GO” and this really affected my mental health. I ended up struggling with insomnia alongside my anxiety which eventually lead to a downward spiral into depression. At this point I was also dealing with a long distance relationship too. I ended up dropping out of university after my 2nd year, because I just couldn’t cope – I was always feeling down, I was generally unwell all of the time, and had stomach problems too often.
I ended up going straight into work. I actually did pretty well with my career. I slowly worked up into a management role. However, because of the nature of my job, it involved a lot of difficult areas. It was emotionally taxing- there were basically a lot of poverty-stricken children, substance abuse, and working alongside families affected by disabilities. Although this didn’t affect me directly, I still found it hard to deal with this stuff on a day-to-day basis. Around the time of getting into my first management role in 2015 I started getting worse stomach problems, and my anxiety got worse.
I was put on Sertraline but swiftly taken off these because they gave me HORRENDOUS night terrors and sleep paralysis – not great when you already suffer with insomnia. Slowly my stomach got worse, I realised this is more than it seems. I was in a lot of pain. I was even bleeding, and couldn’t stay off the toilet. As soon as you know there’s blood you can’t help but think about cancer from all the TV adverts. After so many blood tests coming back as normal and my health slowly regressing, they sent me to the hospital for further tests and a Flexible Sigmoidoscopy. In August 2016, I was diagnosed with a lifelong, incurable auto-immune disease called Ulcerative Colitis. This was likely the route of my poor health for years, but I just didn’t know about it.
My diagnosis was hard. I was in and out of the hospital for tests and appointments and to then be told you have an incurable disease which now means you “technically” have a disability… it’s a weird time. I ended up getting Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with the NHS, which I have to say was extremely helpful.
My health got a little better after trialling a lot of different medications, which I have to take for life now. Things got better until March 2017, when I made the worst mistake, which I wholeheartedly regret now. I got a new job. I hated it. The people were unpleasant. I ended up back on anti-depressants, this time it was Citalopram. I had to do so much unpaid overtime. I was working so many hours a week and getting nothing back from it. Not even praise. I got sent home one afternoon sick, and told I had to stay off for 48 hours because it was policy. When I returned I was actually accused of faking my illness- that was the pinnacle of it all for me I had quit that job by June. Since I left, again my mental health and physical health have improved.
My GP has decided it’s best for me to stay part time with work, at least for now. I’m taking this time to reflect on my life as a whole and I start college in September 2017, to do something completely different. I’m much happier with life now. I think it will still be a bumpy ride, and maybe I’m just not built to cope with stress much. Especially since it affects my physical health as well.
2) How do you keep yourself content day-to-day?
I like to stay busy. I give myself jobs and things to do, even when they’re just small. It feels great when you tick them off and then even the smallest jobs can make you seem like you’ve achieved something that day. Even down to taking the dogs for a walk!
3) Looking back at times you’ve struggled, what would you tell your past self to help them out?
I would tell myself that I can do better. DO NOT put up with anything. You don’t deserve the bad treatment from anyone. You deserve better.
4) What are the things that make you happy, how do you pursue them, and what would you tell others who are trying to pursue what makes them happy?
My boyfriend makes me happy. He’s amazing. We met in December 2014 and he’s been with me during my health problems and my diagnosis. He knows exactly how to make me feel better. Also, my pets. I got my first dog Charlie when I was 18 and first started University – having him helped me so much during the struggles. He gave me purpose. I got my 2nd dog after I left university and I love them both so much. They’re more like my furry little children haha!
5) How do you take care of yourself when you’re feeling down?
I think it’s so important to give yourself time to relax, which I never used to do. I always set time aside now. Even if it’s just to have a long hot bath, or to watch some Netflix, or play some Overwatch.
6) How has blogging contributed to your happiness?
I love the community. Everyone is so supportive and kind. I also love being able to share my thoughts in a way I feel free from judgement. Sometimes it’s hard to be open on your opinions in person. At least with blogging, it’s not face to face. I’m also using my blog to raise awareness for my disease, and to discuss health matters, which is quite important to me.
7) What inspires you, both for blogging and in your personal life?
I always set myself goals – like how many pageviews I want to try and achieve. Once I achieve them I feel amazing. It’s important to keep it realistic too which is why it’s handy to do small ones. Like in winter, I want to work hard on getting my dog Daisy to do the weave poles, we’ve been working on them for a year and we’re so close!
8) How have your friends and family supported your mental health journey? What helped and what did not?
My family don’t really understand depression or anxiety. They don’t understand that I can’t control it and I can’t just “be happy” or just “get on with things”. My boyfriend has been amazing though, I can’t fault him.
Same with my illness, they don’t quite understand. My friends are great and don’t question me when I say I can’t go out, which I like. My mum has even read some leaflets on the illness to learn more. I think as long as people try, then it’s a step in the right direction.
9) What are your goals for the future, both for yourself and your blog? How do you go about achieving those goals?
My goals are to feel well enough to work properly – physically and mentally. My blog is helping me with this because it’s in the comfort of my own home. I spend a lot of time on my blog so it’s great for keeping me going.
10) What makes you feel most alive?
I actually like to plan regularly trips away with my boyfriend. They don’t always go to plan because my disease is so unpredictable. But I love having things to look forward to, and have those special countdowns. They make me feel like my life is worth it. Sharing those special moments, seeing landmarks, sharing experiences with the person I love.
Thanks so much to Becca for her responses! If you want to read more from her, you can find her at these links:
One more post for 2017 after this! Catch you on Sunday for my final thoughts of the year,