Saturday, 30 March 2013

Sams trip to London - a blog

Quite honestly, the past few weeks/month in general have been full of complete ups and downs. One huge up occured this week, where my beautiful friend Samantha (click here to read her blog!) came to London to stay with me for two days.

I met Sam through my blog, where she claims she stalked my YouTube videos and blog for a while (why thank you!), and like most friendships I have, it just blossomed from there really. Our friendship grew and grew. However, with Sam, something was different and I knew that I'd found a friend that was true. And it's rare I get moments like that. The two days I spent with her in London were truly spectacular and they are memories I will treasure for the rest of my life.

Taking Sam into London and showing her the sights was something that I as a Londoner born and bred loved doing. After finally dumping our bags in our hotel room for the night we ventured to Camden Town, somewhere so different and unique that it's somewhere I cherish as a Londoner and I wanted Sam to experience the whole thing with me! I also took her into the shop CyberDog which was certainly an experience - if you've been there yourself you will know what I'm talking about!

We then went to Covent Garden, mooched around the shops for a long while and finally took rest in Nandos for dinner before heading to the Cambridge Theatre to see the musical Matilda. I am an avid musical lover, as is Sam (she's even been in musicals herself, don't you know?), so it only made sense that we would kick off the trip in style by seeing a West End show that we'd never seen before. And what a show to see! Matilda not only had my sides splitting with laughter throughout but had an all-round perfect cast and I left with nothing but a huge smile on my face. It's certainly the funniest musical I have seen and I would recommend it to literally anyone (and I've seen a lot of musicals!)

 After the show finished I decided I would show Sam something truly spectacular and something that I myself hadn't seen and appreciated for years - London at nighttime. I took Sam along the River Thames which was truly a sight to see. It's really nice for me to experience my city with someone who hasn't before, it made me far more appreciative of the place where I live:

To which I then decided to show her the famous arcade located just next to the London Eye, where we found this hilarious photobooth and resulted in the following pictures!

After this and some arcade gaming (at about 12 midnight), we finally decided to head back to our hotel, where mixed berry tea and chocolate with girly chats was high on the agenda!
The next day we woke up bright and early and headed back to my house to dump our bags (and meet my parents!) and have some breakfast before heading out to Oxford Street. Bearing in mind it was payday for both of us, it was an opportunity for us to indulge in some self-care and treat ourselves for once! And boy did we shop! It was nice to have a change to do something rare and buy ourselves things because we felt like we deserved them, or that we just liked them, rather than umming and aaahing over whether we're good enough to deserve a particular item. We even bought two MAC lipsticks each as well as lots of nice clothes and goodies, and I treated Sam to a tube map poster so she could never forget the time she spent in London. I also took Sam to Hamleys, a five storey toy shop located on Regents Street, which Sam fell in love with and we ended up getting keyrings made with our picture inside them! Such a cute idea and a lovely way to remember the two days we spent together!

After being completely worn out from shopping, we went back to my house and got ready to go out to dinner at a local pub near my house. Despite my anxiety being racing (so many teachers from my old school happened to be there which was slightly terrifying), we had a lovely meal and went home to relax and catch an early night before Sams train in the morning.

With both of us having suffered from eating disorders, depression and anxiety, so many things about the trip, some would say, could have gone horribly wrong. But for us it wasn't like that. We are both extremely recovery focused and are there to support each other throughout the ups and downs and trials and tribulations that come alongside these awful mental illnesses. And I think that the trip certainly proved that.
What I love about Sam is her honesty. Usually she thinks along the same lines as me with most things (which we found out!) which was great but she's also so real and true to herself. She doesn't pretend to be something she's not and she is certainly not defined by her experiences. She is Sam, a woman who has become nothing but stronger and more courageous through these experiences and will find the light in the darkness. We faced some great obstacles together regarding anxiety and eating over those past two days but you know what, we did it, we got past it, and saw past it all and saw two friends having a great time in London. And that's what recovery is all about. Sam refers to me as an inspiration but I truly think it should be the other way around, she's a beautiful girl with a kind heart who is honest, real and true. And our little life chats and heart-to-hearts really helped me to appreciate things and see things differently and she has no idea how much that means. I'm so proud of her! I was so sad to watch her get on the train but know that this isn't the end and I will certainly be paying a visit to see her soon!

My mental health problems have caused me so much grief and hassle in my life, and they still do, but one thing they have given me is amazing friendships. And weirdly, I'd like to thank my insanity for that. It's given me great people like Sam to brighten up the day with - I had an amazing time and the trip taught me loads of great things. Thank you Sam!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Finding the right form of treatment

Something I hear about quite often is of people trying therapy and it not working for them. Nonetheless, they tend not to define exactly 'why' it's not for them, but they say it 'didn't work' 'the therapist was rubbish', and so on.

I'm someone who has been through enough therapists to recognise the bad from the good, and in my lifetime have had a total of one decent therapist/counsellor who has legitimately helped. That was back when I was 17/18 years old when I was receiving CAMHS treatment. For me, a therapist has to care about the patient they are treating. Not be there for the money, knowing that they're getting paid at the end of it all. With a lot of therapists, you know which ones care and which don't. And that's why I've persevered and struggled through so many different ones, because there are some out there who don't care.

I'm back in therapy again after a year of saying I was never going to go back to it. I saw a private counsellor before that and she was one who not only didn't appear to care but what she did care about was the £30 she was receiving at the end of the session. Sessions were very formal and structured and sounded like something she had scripted beforehand, and that type of treatment wasn't for me.
However, recently I got back in contact with a private counsellor that I saw for 6 weeks when I was 13 years old. She was the first course of treatment I ever had after the school/my parents had concerns about my eating and self-harming. I received six free sessions through my Mum's job at the time, and after that, as my illness was highly stigmatised by my parents my Mum wasn't willing to pay for any more treatment. Weirdly, throughout the years, I remembered this counsellor and desired her and her methods and her empathy/care towards me. Remembering her still now, whilst struggling immensely, I got back in contact recently and weirdly enough, she remembered me even after 7 years, reminding me about where my parents worked etc. And speaking to her on the phone felt natural, right, she wanted to see me and help me. And I've seen her twice now and I've never ever felt so optimistic about treatment, possibly ever.

She's been the first counsellor to ever tell me that she'll always be there for me. And that sounds silly, doesn't it? But you'd be surprised at the amount of counsellors out there who don't say that to clients. My counsellor has given me this sense of optimism that I WILL get through this dark stage of my life and I WILL find what works for me. Most importantly, this WILL pass and I WILL recover, one day, no matter how long it takes.

I guess the point of this blog today is to persevere and keep trying to find the source of treatment that works for YOU. Some people automatically assume that trying therapy once and it 'not working' means that they're doomed to suffer forever and it doesn't have to be that way. Therapists and counsellors are people too and some people do clash and some peoples methods and styles of treatment do not suit everybody. And that's why there are so many different and varied forms of treatment out there - to suit a variety of individuals. Don't feel like you SHOULD be cured because you are in therapy, and that it MUST work. If you are not happy with your form of treatment, change it. Keep changing until it's right. Because you and your recovery are important and you should fight to receive the treatment you deserve. Try every option in the book. My point is that you can't say that you've given up hope unless you've tried everything. And often, everything possible out there is endless.

I'm in a really dark place at the moment and I'm not saying that I'm going to magically feel better overnight but to have someone finally there who believes and has hope in me and who WANTS to support me through this tough time is all I need, sometimes. And I'm thankful I've found that form of treatment and you should never give up until you've found yours. When it's right, it feels right. It clicks and falls into place. Giving up, is not an option. And I can't say I've never given up and I'm fighting so hard right now not to.

Whether it be through therapy or counselling, inpatient treatment, drugs, art/creative therapy, or even self-help, NEVER stop searching for recovery. Don't rest until you find what works for you. You deserve to be happy and have the life that you want to live.

I  believe that recovery and happiness out there for me, somewhere. And inside, I know you all do for yourselves too. So let's find it. Not next week, or next year, NOW.

P.s - If you are looking for different kinds of services in and around the UK I strongly suggest you download an app available for iPhone and Android called WellHappy. The app has been in progress for quite a few months now and a beautiful friend of mine named Kat has spent months slaving away putting together mental health services and information about mental health down into this one app. The official launch is next week (which I am going to) but in the meantime download it - it's brilliant!