Chester Bennington: This really doesn’t get any easier does it?

As someone who has suffered with the anxiety and depression that comes alongside bipolar disorder throughout my life, suicidal thoughts have never exactly been a stranger to me. Don’t get me wrong, they come in varying degrees of severity and although sometimes they can be mild, they are always there in the back of my mind. Suicide to me, usually feels like a house that I will one day eventually have to buy and move into as that is just how my life has to pan out. But even then, I don’t actively have plans to go out and act on these thoughts, any time soon at least.

I always try to tell myself that you have to go through hell to appreciate the good stuff in life, and when I am struggling my hardest then I always convince myself that I must be in line for something pretty damn amazing as soon as this shit storm passes! I laugh at myself, I use humour to hide what this hell actually feels like. Because if people are laughing along with me then they can’t see me drown. It’s silly, I know this, but it is how I have always been and I never want to “burden” people with my crappy thoughts. My mind, my problem.

As a kid I loved Linkin Park and there music helped me feel a bit better in the prison that was my teenage mind, so of course when I heard the news about Chester Bennington a few days ago I was deeply saddened and shaken. When I hear about people older than me, especially people that I have always looked up to, struggling with their own mental health, even loosing their own battle to suicide, it leaves me at a loss. All I can think is that this really doesn’t get any better does it? It doesn’t get any easier, I am always going to have these thoughts, and daily fights with myself just to keep breathing.

That is not to say that I never thought that anyone over the age of 30 could suffer with mental illness, its more that I hoped with experience, things would get easier. It seems I am wrong. Looking at the Samaritans Suicide Statistics Report 2017 we can see that this year there have already been 6,639 suicides in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. The highest suicide rate in the UK being that of men aged between 40 – 44, even though female suicides are at their highest levels in decades also.

So no, it doesn’t get easier. This is always going to be a battle, waking up every day and allowing myself to get up and live my life, getting through each and every minute fighting against my own mind is going to continue to be the hellish experience that it has always been. But although it is going to be a difficult battle, it is damn well going to be a battle that I am going to win.

If you feel like you are struggling and need some support then the Samaritans are always there 24/7, every day of the year. Give them a call on 116 123, the number is free and there is always someone there to listen to you and support you. Never feel alone, and remember you don’t have to be suicidal to call or ask for help.

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Why We Need to Talk About High Functioning Depression

One in four people will suffer from mental illness at some point in their lives, and most of the time it is a silent battle, so chances are – you will know at least one of us! Whether it is your colleague, your teacher or even that nice girl that serves you your morning coffee with a constant smile on her face, what you don’t see is that behind that smile is screaming.depression-fake-smile-life-life-sucks-favim-com-1376197

We all have a stereotypical view of depression and anxiety, a sufferer having to force themselves out of bed every morning to struggle through the day, only to have themselves fail at every hurdle and end up back home again. Returning back to their duvet of self pity to cry and fret about the next day – am I getting warm? Sure, a lot of people think like that, and hell, I’m sure there are plenty of people with depression who do decide to deal with their depression in such a way – and that is fine! There is no right or wrong way to deal with this bitch of a condition, either way it’s going to hurt like hell and there is no point in pretending otherwise, so however a person copes is perfectly valid and acceptable.

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In most circles, high functioning depression is seen as more “acceptable” and certainly seen as easier and a “less serious” form of the condition but I must say that I fail to see how this opinion is formed. As someone with “high functioning depression” I can tell you that it is in no way bloody easy! If I were not so vocal about my mental health, then most people tell me that they would have no idea that I suffer with bipolar and anxiety – something which I am unsure how to take if I am honest.

I talk about my mental illnesses openly as I am in no way ashamed of them. Sure, I am aware that some people in my life certainly think less of me because of them, and there are many who treat me with a new sense of disregard as soon as they become aware of my conditions. However, I believe that people need to speak more openly about mental health in general so that we can help to remove this stigma and in doing so, remove the need for people like me to feel they have to hide away and struggle through everything on their own without being seen as weak.

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High functioning depression comes with all of the same struggles that come with lower functioning depression, as well as a whole host of new and “exciting” ones. To maintain a (relatively!) normal appearance, efforts must be doubled. Going out to see friends regularly becomes a chore sometimes more than a pleasure and I feel I cannot use my anxiety as an excuse as they will only take it personally, and “I should be able to do these things anyway damn it!”

Going to work every day and maintaining a happy and smiling appearance when sometimes all I want to do is to literally curl up in my bath (personal choice, I’ve spent many an hour crying in an empty bath) and scream into the silence until I stop feeling so intensely. Dealing with urges, as well as the reality of, self harm and thinking to yourself “well I can’t cut there or people will see through my uniform and know that I’m struggling” – I mean God forbid anyone have the chance to offer you help am I right?

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High functioning depression often comes with a demand for perfectionism and so is often followed by a lack of ability to give yourself any slack! I refuse to allow myself any leigh weigh when it comes to my mental illness affecting my life, it’s just not happening. If I promised someone that I would do something, or if I have a commitment then I am following through even if it means I make myself ill.

I, like many others, only get through a long shift by having a 2 minute cry in the toilet before slapping myself to get it back together again. Wiping my eyes, pinching my cheeks to draw colour and practising that old faithful smile. It’s funny really that the one feature that people often comment on to me is my smile. That I “brighten their day” as I am always happy and smiling when they see me. The really sad thing is that I actually take great pride in that. Although I know that a large portion of the time I have been smiling I have been pretty much dead behind the eyes, it proves to me that my façade is at least a convincing one and that I am not hurting anyone. That is my greatest fear, that I could possibly make someone else feel the way my mental illness can make me feel sometimes – and that is why I refuse to lay off myself.

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As the pace of every day living gets faster and faster, it becomes very clear that more and more people are suffering with mental health issues such as depression and anxiety, but that a huge portion of these are keeping quiet and making themselves so much worse. Why is it that we think it is better to slowly kill ourselves by not taking proper care, than to actually ask for help!?

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So no, although all kinds of depression and mental health disorders are hell on earth to endure and fight your way through, “high functioning depression” is sure as hell not easier. Just because I may appear to have my shit together most of the time, I assure you that behind this trademark Emmie smile I’m crying 90% of the time…I just like to pretend otherwise!

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10 Things I Love About Performing

 

I have been performing in some shape or another ever since I can remember and I have always loved being on stage. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very different to me enjoying public speaking as that is far from the truth! If I am performing then I am not myself, I am actor or a stage persona, the second I have to be myself all of my self-confidence disappears. I have always been a very shy and quiet person when I meet new people and so performing has really helped me to work on this and be the loud and bubbly person that I know that I am inside! Here are my top 10 reasons as to why I love performing.

  1. It helps my confidence!
    As I say, I have always struggled with confidence. When I have to speak in front of people then I almost forget how to talk, to the extent I have worked at places for over six months and the whole office didn’t even know my name! I know I am quiet in front of people that I don’t know and I hate that about myself and so it is always something that I am looking to improve wherever I can. When I am onstage I forget my anxieties and they no longer seem to matter to me. I am not myself, I am my character and am blinded by stage presence. Performing means that I have to get better as I get to work with so many amazing people throughout every stage of the rehearsal process….and they all remember my name!
  2. I meet amazing new friends!
    Thanks to my “wonderful” anxiety, I unsurprisingly find it a very daunting task to go out and make friends. In fact, making friends at all as an adult – anxiety or no anxiety – is bloody horrible! When you are a kid as you’re at school you have to make friends so that you are not alone, everybody is in the same boat really and it will benefit each of you to buddy up. But as an adult everyone is at different stages! Whether you have just started a new job, moved to a new area or are just looking to meet new people in a bar etc. it can be really difficult to find some common ground. But performing has helped me to meet some of my best friends in the world, as being thrown in at the deep end of the intense world of rehearsals is the perfect place to get to love people!
  3. It helps me to understand my emotion!
    As someone that suffers with a mood disorder (bipolar), wading through the moggy pit that is my emotions can be an impossibly daunting task! But acting is wonderful for that, to be able to successfully portray a character you need to do more than just recite their words. You need to understand their words and the motivation behind them. You need to see the reasoning behind every decision and choice, and the incentive pushing every sentence. Being someone else, helps me to understand how to be me.
  4. It improves my public speaking!
    As I have said, speaking in front of people as myself is absolutely horrifying to me! Knowing what to say is tough enough, but then I have the loud voice of my anxiety telling me that everybody in the room is laughing at me and that I am their own personal and collective in joke. Performing regularly helps me to get used to being in front of people and allows me to start bleeding a little more of myself into the performance to help me remember how to talk at that next big meeting!
  5. Your empathy improves!
    Being placed in a situation whereby you have to portray the emotions of someone else in a situation that you yourself have never been in, then you have to develop a great sense of empathy. Performing helps me to understand how other people may see the world and also helps me to read how they may be feeling.
  6. It helps me to learn to trust people!
    Thanks to many factors I have real difficulties when it comes to trusting people however performing is helping me to get over that. When you are working on a production you have to rely on other people, you simply do not have a choice and so if you don’t learn to trust your production team and cast, things will just quickly fall apart.
  7. Helps you to learn how to efficiently work in a team!
    As I have kind of mentioned in previous points, a theatrical production demands excellent team work to allow everything to gel properly. Your show becomes kind of like your little child and you are determined to make it the best that it can be. Everybody will band together to combine ideas and skill sets to come up with ideas that you would never have even been able to dream of on your own.
  8. It takes over your life….in a good way!
    From learning your lines, to rehearsals God knows how many times a week, promotion work and finally performances (not to forget the after show party!) the performance that you are working towards really can take over your life – but I genuinely do love it! It takes over most of my waking hours, and I am exhausted and so occasionally am a complete ratty bum, but it is something that I actually want to be spending all this time on because it is all worth it!
  9. You gain experience in so many things!
    Since I have been performing, I have learnt to do so many things! I can now direct, put on a show and advertise it, work a set of stage lights, create a props and costume script – even fire plans and risk assessments! When you are putting on a show, everyone comes together and does whatever they can to make the show a success – all hands on deck!
  10. It makes me so proud of myself!
    When you take that final bow and hear just how much the audience have enjoyed themselves, it really is all worth it. The buzz I get from that is outstanding and there is nothing like it in the world! I love everything about my performing life and I don’t intend to ever stop!

My Relaxing Day at Volair Spa in Knowsley

Yesterday I was lucky enough to get invited to Volair Spa in Knowsley and it really was an awesome experience. I have never had a “spa day” as such and so I was a little apprehensive, especially as it involved meeting a lot of new people. The past week I have been in a mild hyper manic phase and so now I am suffering with the inevitable downer that always follows, and so I was more nervous than I would usually be. I have promised myself that this img_5184year I am not going to make my bipolar or anxiety hold me back. If I get opportunities, then I am going to allow myself to be excited about them. I am so glad I went!

 

When I arrived (late! Sorry again!), I was greeted by Hayley who was really friendly and welcomed me with a dressing gown and slippers so I could go and get changed. I jumped into my tankini, that didn’t match at all cause I’m a terrible at being a girl, I then went to sit with some other lovely bloggers. The lovely people had laid out some pastries, juice and herbal teas for us and I certainly made use of the pastries – nom nom!

We split into two groups after a quick chat introducing ourselves and my first experience was to sit (on some amazing reclining chairs might I add) and have a facial experience with Hayley. She was so funny and talked us through the importance of taking our make up at the end of the day. I must be completely honest with you, it is very rare that I remember to take off my make up, and if and when I finally do, it is with a face wipe and brute force for that pesky eye make up!

However, after this really informative talk where we used some gorgeous products from Aroma Works which smelled absolutely beautiful! We first used the purity eye cleanser which was an oil that we rubbed onto our hands and then applied to our eye areas to loosen any existing make up. We also used a facial oil that was specific to our individual skin types, mine was for oily skin.

img_5187 img_5188 img_5189 img_5190 img_5192As someone with a very oily face (sounds grim I know, sorry) I would personally never have thought about putting a facial oil onto my skin as I thought that it would have just made things worse. But I must say that after this experience my skin has never felt better! Even now, the day after, my skin feels really soft and looks glowy – to the point that I haven’t felt the need to put make up on! This never ever happens, I put a full face of make-up on to answer the door to the post man! So I’ll definitely be looking out for these products as soon as payday hits! I learnt so much in this talk and I think I may have even been convinced to stop being so damn lazy with my skin care…

We then went into one of the lovely treatment rooms to watch a Crystal Clear micro-dermabrasion facial treatment, something which previously had honestly scared the living hell out of me! I always thought that it was something akin to sandblasting your face with high powered suction and coarse crystals – but it couldn’t have been further from the truth! The therapist showed us the crystals and placed them on our hands so that we could see just how small and smooth they were on the skin. We then got to feel the machine on our skin so we could see that it really didn’t hurt – it just seemed like a tiny, tiny hoover! I really would love to try one and the fear has certainly gone.img_5197

Then we had lunch which was a buffet with different sandwiches, wraps, crisps and fruit and more importantly we were greeted with prosecco! After a few glasses of prosecco and a good chat with the girls we then went on to our second experiences. To do this, we went downstairs and we got to smell a selection of exfoliation sugar scrubs and choose one that we loved. My favourite was the lavender one as it reminded me of all of my relaxation things that I use at home. We were given a shot glass full of our chosen scrub and at first I was worried that this wouldn’t be enough. However, the consistency is more like a jam than anything else, and covered my whole body easily. We then washed it off in the shower and moved on.

Volair Spa has an Alpine Herbal Sauna and Salt Crystal Steam Room and so we took advantage of these. Admittedly, saunas usually fill me with a bit of a sense of dread as the high temperature and tiny rooms often mean that I struggle to catch my breath and end up having a panic attack. However, one of the things that I loved about this sauna room was that the door was glass and so I could see out and understand that I was not trapped.

img_5198 img_5199The steam room felt lovely as well and we were dripping with sweat in minutes (sorry! TMI?). The only thing is, as my vision is so terrible I really can’t walk more than two steps without my glasses so I had to wear them inside. This meant that they steamed up every ten seconds, which although funny, got annoying after a while, but that is just the fault of my shocking vision – thanks genetics! Volair have an offer where two people can visit the spa for just £15 and I think I’m going to treat me and my mum to pamper day before Christmas.

We then went back upstairs and were given goodie bags to take home with us. We said goodbye to everyone and recording a quick video testimonial before leaving. Considering I had to then drive over 60 miles home I didn’t have chance to look through my goodie bag however when I got back I had a look through all the great things I had. There are a lot of samples of the products that we have used throughout the day and a voucher to return (which I’ll definitely be using soon!).img_5201 img_5203 img_5204

 

Disclaimer: I was asked to attend the event but writing this post was not compulsory, I just really loved my day!

 

Sometimes I Just Want to Get Off…

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Living with bipolar disorder can be fun at times, hypermania so often bringing with a flood of endorphin’s and inspiration to be great and to do great things. However the lows can be totally debilitating and take over the overwhelming roller coaster that is your life. The past two weeks have been extremely tough for me in regards to my bipolar depression, and it is really the first time that I have properly crashed (to the extent to which I am worrying myself at least) while I have been a functioning adult, with my own responsibilities.

This past fortnight has destroyed me and all I have wanted to do is fall back into old habits, and not move from my bedroom while sitting on the wrong side of a lighter or razor blade. But I don’t live at home now, I’m not at uni. I can’t afford to stay at home, just because my world is falling apart doesn’t mean it stops turning for the rest of the world! I rent a two bedroom house with a garden and have two pets to look after and a full time job to manage – I don’t have the luxury of just being able to stay at home when I feel a bit dodgy.

And so, I have had to drag myself to work and sit at my desk, the majority of the time while trying to ignore the tears streaming down my cheeks, and get on with everything because life will never just stop. Of course there have been tears, and stress and even a panic attack (my poor manager…never seen a grown man look so uncomfortable in my life – I am so sorry!), but I am surprising even myself by pulling myself through it.

It may look like I am not coping to any outsiders looking in, and to a certain extent no I am not. However, only I know how fragile and broken I was just two or three years ago, and there is no way that I would be able to cope with moods like this, be living on my own – and more importantly to trust myself to live alone without doing anything stupid, without anyone to (for lack of a better term) “babysit” me.

When my mood plummets like this I can appear to be a totally different person – I become even quieter and only speak when spoken to (yes I can speak even less than I do now, I swear its possible!), I forget to eat, lose pleasure in doing things I’ve always loved, nothing tastes right and most annoyingly my concentration becomes non-existent. If there is something on my mind then I will sit and think about it endlessly until I have reimagined every possible alternative outcome to that situation, if there is nothing in particular bothering me that day, then my head will help me to create a problem – probably fantasising about a bomb scare, or a kidnapping similar to my past happening again – neither of which are exactly likely on a Tuesday afternoon in North Lancashire.

But that is what bipolar depression does, it takes who you are and slowly compacts you into a small shadow of your former self. You become paranoid and snappy and often end up taking it out on the people who try to help you most. Life just becomes very difficult. As I said, I feel like I am doing well, and I am proud of how far I have come over the past few years. No, I am not exactly coping right now as it feels like I am trying to sew sand together to be perfectly honest. But, I am coping well enough for me, and I am doing my best to stay afloat, and that’s good enough. For now at least.

Goodnight my lovelies,

Emmie x