Laughter from the psych ward

Content warning: This post deals with anxiety, depression and hospital and may be triggering for some readers.

Psych wards and laugher?

It starts with the ‘why’ are you here?’ questions and usually ends in fits of laughter.

The most healing medicine. Laughing. It fills the chilling reality of the white walls, 15 minute checks, group counselling and hidden contraband.

I remember nights where we would gather around tables at supper and laugh about the ironic things people would tell us ‘maybe you should exercise more’.. ‘be more thankful..’ ‘others have it worse off than you’… Oh the lists. Like thank you, I didn’t already feel bad enough.

The sharing of horror medications, deluions , misdiagnosis and relapsing. But I have never felt more heard, more understood or so accepted in my life. We knew the frustration of our illnesses, we knew how to be present with each other.

In a room full of ‘crazy people’ I felt at home. We would laugh until the nurses told us to go to bed or they will call Security, we would laugh at our thinking, we would laugh at our new found diagnoses, we would laugh.. we would laugh at the odd looks from the nurses when we all went quite.. when we realised where we all were again. How could depressed people be laughing?

We found comfort in each other’s stories, where tears fell, were lonliness stood.. we knew. We understood. We made friends for that moment.

I found healing in the gathered living room moments, the days spent around the art table. I found freedom in my laughing.. right when my world was full of grey. I began to know peace in the safety of my bedroom, I found comfort in being heard.

I found healing in the midst of terrible pain, in the struggle to calm anxiety, between the breakdowns and the psychosis.. it was all in our laughter.

.. Breannon

If you or a loved one need to talk to someone please consider the following organisations:

https://www.beyondblue.org.au

http://headspace.org.au

lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide helpline Victoria: 1300651251

Suicide call back service- 1300659467

or visit your local GP

For the people who help, you seriously don’t have to have any answers, don’t be scared, just listen. Help your person find a place they can talk and find helpful tools to assist in their processing.

Ask me how I’m coping. Not how I’m doing 

So last night I post this photo:

With the intention of bringing a little more awareness to mental health and the struggles of depression and anxiety. As per usual. I couldn’t sleep much after that. Regretting putting it out there, nervous about what people would think, but also proud of myself and my ability to be authentic.

As I was thinking this sentence came to me ‘Ask me how I’m coping, not how I’m going if you want to know the real, raw, authentic me’

When people ask me how I’m going I can very easily say ‘good!’ and I am.. I’m not lying or being fake. I have great friends, work is alright, I’m adding value, I have a beautiful family, I’m grateful. But at the very same time I may not be coping with the demands of depression and anxiety.. I can struggle to get out of bed, I find it impossible to hold a conversation, I fear any responsibility.. I’m not coping.. how I’m doing and how I’m coping are different for me.

Sounds like it’s contradictory.. how can you be good but not coping..? well I’m considered ‘high-functioning’ depression and anxiety ( not an actual a diagnosis DSM-5) but I can basically perform daily tasks while feeling immense despair and fear. My ability to succeed is a higher priority, than giving into my mental health- most of the time. I spend days at a time in bed at times.

I believe a lot of people struggling with mental health can share a similar mind set. They can be ok and not ok at the same time.

So if you ask me how I’m going.. I’m good. Life is good. I’m thankful.

If you ask me how I’m coping.. at times I’ll be completely fine.. other times you might get a raw and somewhat confronting response, which will probably change as much as Melbourne weather!

Running Through Thunder

I love when the sky begins to change. The bright blue of the sky turns to grey and that beautiful smell right before the rain comes. I love standing still and waiting for that first drop of rain to roll down my face. It’s almost a relief. Its as if my lungs have been cleared and I can breathe again. But I hate the thunder. My heart races with the sound rolling across the sky. I fear the chaos of the storm.

I recently found myself in the bright blue sunny part of my life. You know those times when life is calm. Everything you do is beautiful. You can cope with whatever is thrown your way. My mental health was stable, the side effects of my medication had begun to lessen, I was giving to those around me, and I could add value.

But.. There’s always a but.. I felt somewhat.. I guess weird? It didn’t feel normal. I wanted the rain. I wanted the fear of the storm. So I talked myself into a hole. I let depression take a place in my daily life again. I’ve been an advocate for mental health and one thing that makes my heart break is when people say ‘just think better thoughts’ or ‘maybe you should just change the way you think about *insert subject’ it doesn’t really work but in saying that I’ve learnt something amazing about not letting my brain control me, but allowing me to control my brain! (For more info check out dr. Caroline leaf)

Depression and anxiety or any mental health.. it doesn’t care about the time of day, month, place or the best day of your life. They will strike when you’re laughing with friends, in a crowded room, making burgers or in the stillness of your room. Depression sucks the life right out of your lungs. But at the same time can became a strange comfort and feel like it’s giving you life. It lies to you.

Anyway! Let me get to my point. As I was feeling more stable and the storm was calm, I felt like I wasn’t ‘normal’ and talked myself back into the storm. Good one Breannon!! Thankfully I’m much more aware and able to quickly catch myself in these moments. So I stopped. I let myself feel the rain pour down my face and touch the deepest part of my soul. I cried. I got angry. I panicked. I hid. I prayed.

You know when you can hear the thunder in the distance. You know its coming and there’s nothing you can do about it. That was me. I could hear the storm brewing around me. Closing in on me and I knew in that moment I needed to make significant decisions that would change how I viewed the storm. Was I scared? Yep, petrified! I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. Where I would end up. But I knew I would be ok.

So, right now the thunder is loud and the storm is right here. The depression and anxiety I feel is real but I’m not letting it take control. I’m not letting it damage my relationships, my life or my ambitions! I have taken control (in a positive way) of the impact depression takes in my daily living, sometimes its almost impossible to get out of bed or see people but I’m standing strong, I get tired sometimes and the storm can be extremely powerful at times but I’m running through the thunder.

Never let your storm define you.

Breannon

If you or a loved one need to talk to someone please consider the following organisations, because you’re worth it:

https://www.beyondblue.org.au

http://headspace.org.au

lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide helpline Victoria: 1300651251

Suicide call back service- 1300659467

or visit your local GP

For the people who help, you seriously don’t have to have any answers, don’t be scared, just listen. Help your person find a place they can talk and find helpful tools to assist in their processing

A Letter To You About My Anxiety.

To My Friends,

This letter is to help explain the overwhelming anxiety I feel everyday. Not just about general things but the anxiety I feel all day everyday.  When I make up excuses, bail on plans last minute, struggle to be present because there’s 100 thing in my mind, the panic attacks, trying to meet everyone’s expectations, the sudden crying, the need to be busy all the time but also the overwhelming feeling of wanting to be alone.

I try so hard to hide what’s happening but I know you see it. I know you see the fidgeting, the cracking of my fingers, the inability to hold a conversation for too long, the nervousness in my speaking, shortness of breath. The anxiety I’m talking about is more then the normal worries of life. Its General Anxiety Disorder (GAD) (http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/guide/generalized-anxiety-disorder) where you are always excepting a major disaster and can’t stop worrying about family, friends, money, work etc. the worry is often majorly out of proportion and unrealistic.

Your kind words. Your compassion. Your love. It’s beautiful. You are all so kind. But it defiantly doesn’t take away my reality. I want it to go away I try so hard. I pray everyday. I declare truth over my life. I try to focus on the positive. But most of the time I feel waves of anxiety flooding my mind and pulling me under the waters.

Trust me.. If I could make it go away I would of by now. I’m exhausted. I’m over it. It drains my energy every day. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been thrown into the ocean with bricks on my feet. I’m struggling to keep my head above the waves.

You are probably thinking how much you wish I didn’t have to feel like this. Like you wish you could take it away. That’s probably why you are still reading. So thank you! But let me tell you.. Your friendship, your love, your laughter, your care is more then enough for me. You don’t have to help me rationalize my thinking, you don’t have to fix me, and you don’t have to understand. You are my friend not my therapist. You are important to me. I love that you ask questions, I love that you show interest.

I love that you are my friend.

I hope one day you don’t have to see me in all my struggle and I’m sure that day will come. You probably feel the same way. I will continue to find the best ways to help me cope. I will continue to push through. I will continue to be the best me I can be. All I ask is you continue to be my friend. Because that means the world to me.

Much love,

Your stress head of a friend.

Breannon

 

inspired by: http://themighty.com/2015/08/letter-to-people-affected-by-my-anxiety/

Healing In Healthy Community.

“…And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching…”
— Hebrews 10:24-25

Recently I found myself in a really hard place. I couldn’t move past the terror and fear that flooded my mind. I was scared and feeling somewhat on my own. Not because I didn’t have people around me but because I was choosing to isolate myself.

Anyways, about two weeks into my freak out. I prayed God would bring the right people around and within days I had a particular lovely human who committed herself to help me heal. Along with some other amazing, Jesus loving, fearless, beautiful ladies!

Now a month later I am in a much healthier place. I found healing and restoration as I allowed the Christian community to speak into my life. They could see the crap and heartache that was my reality but they also called the gold out of me, they sung the song in my heart that I had forgotten, they pointed me back to my true identity and helped me discover God’s goodness again.

In saying all this, I have realized how important and critical it is for us to have healthy communities around us. To have people who acknowledge your struggles and call you into more. I believe God created us for community and relationship. That we would walk life together, share our hearts and encourage each other in the more.

How beautiful would it be if struggles were normalized. I’ve had so many young people who have come to me with shame, fear and guilt about the issues they are facing. Even though they are such normal issues.

I encourage you to find 3 people in your community who can walk with you in the highs and lows. People who know your dreams, potential, identity and encourage you. That no matter what you are struggling with they still believe the best in you.

So let yourself be open and transparent with trusting people! Never let your issues define you! Share your heart! And let yourself heal in healthy community! It’s so worth speaking out!

Peace Out.
Breannon xx

My Beautiful Relapse

Content warning: This post deals with anxiety and depression and may be triggering for some readers.
So I have relapsed over the past month with anxiety and depression but I’m totally ok with it. I think its been the most beautiful month for a long time. Heres why:

I have learnt how much I have grown and matured since I was a scared, all over the place 18 year old. With this relapse I haven’t let the symptoms over take me and shatter my world, I’ve been able to recognise them and work through them with all the knowledge and therapeutic interventions I have learnt from years of counselling and studying last year.

Yes, I’m taking medication. Its what I needed. That’s also ok. At first I hated myself for it but as I thought and prayed about it I felt a peace I could only dream of. With each day I can notice my body responding to the medication and becoming calm. Is my brain calm? far from it but I’m able to deal with whatever is happening up there.

I’ve found joy in the valley. January was the best. I had awesome, challenging, frustrating moments with God. I feel as if it was a defining month for me. Defining my willingness to fight for myself, my relationship with God and my overall health. I’m defiantly winning this war! It wasn’t as if God was absent or distant, it was these moments when i had decisions to make between Gods best for me or what I wanted. At times I just did what I wanted but God was still there and walking with me. It was different and it was beautiful!

I become ok with the now I’m a stress head and a planner. I need to know and I need to know now. But this month was a lot of being present with the now and learning and growing today. Not trying to just get to the next big thing in my life. I had this issue of always living for the next thing. Camp, going to Geelong, weddings, school seminars, youth, conferences… I thrived off the big things and completely missed the now.. because of that I missed my slow decline, missed my times sitting with God, stressed myself out about what I need to do.. I missed the precious moments of now. I love looking forward to exciting things and can’t wait for them but I’m learning to be ok and content with the now.

I’ve learnt a lot this past month and I’m sure I’ll keep learning about it all. The greatest thing I’ve learnt is to be gentle on myself and not to rush. I think a lot of us rush through life and look back and wonder why. Lets live for the now and appreciate the joys, difficulties, adventure and everything else tomorrow brings.

Love.

Breannon.

If you or a loved one need to talk to someone please consider the following organisations, because you’re worth it:

https://www.beyondblue.org.au

http://headspace.org.au

lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide helpline Victoria: 1300651251

Suicide call back service- 1300659467

or visit your local GP

For the people who help, you seriously don’t have to have any answers, don’t be scared, just listen. Help your person find a place they can talk and find helpful tools to assist in their processing.

Comparison Kills

I’ve been thinking lately about how much I compare my life to those around me. From wanting to look like someone else, have their job, their house, their ‘perfect’ little family,  their super outgoing fun personality.. and I realised this.. I was Killing myself.

I was resenting me

. It wasn’t an overly obvious thing because I’m fairly happy with where my life is at the moment. Of course there is more things I would like to be doing and dreams I want to fulfil but there was this underlying little thing that was chipping away at my happiness.

With all of this I’ve been thinking about how many (if any) people may compare their lives to mine. By what i post on Facebook, instagram or even on here and how much of it is actually authentic to my life. Yes they are real moment with real feelings but they are mostly the highlights of my day and don’t express the struggle it was for me to get up that day, how i put on extra make-up because i looked like crap, the anxiety I had leaving the house, the worry of no money in my bank account for another week (thanks surgery), the loneliness I felt, the frustration..i could go on but I think you get it haha

Heres a photo i posted on Facebook a few months back with the caption “// HAPPIEST DAYS // it’s been awhile since I’ve felt so happy, confident, joyful and loved. Taking the right steps brings freedom. #thisiswhathappinessfeelslike #happydays11209708_10208458001873291_1597873099326877295_n.jpg

I got 88 likes and a bunch of comments about how good I was looking, how proud people were of me etc. Makes you feel pretty great! was this picture an authentic reflection of my life.. hmmm.. yes i was feeling all the things the caption said but i was also deeply hurt, frustrated, annoyed and sad about some things that had happened a month or so earlier. Also, sometime I see some peoples post and I know where they are truly at in their lives and what actually is happening for them.. just like me their post is still true but lacks authenticity.
I have many examples I could post but its just go me thinking how when i scroll through my newsfeed every morning, lunch break and evening (i know.. i have an obsession haha) how careful I need to be to not compare my lowlights to the highlights of other peoples lives.

As I began to think, pray and journal I found myself reading the 10 commandments and the final one says this :
“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant, nor his ox, nor his donkey, nor anything that is your neighbor’s.” (Exodus 20:17)

I’ve heard these a thousand times and remember doing little activities on the commandments in Sunday school (Thanks Kiri) but to be honest it wasn’t until this week where I understood how important it is to really look at what God was saying to His people in Exodus 20. The beauty of where He has placed you in this life, the areas He leads you into and the ‘Such a time as this’ moments.

I don’t know what else to say but:
LOOK AFETR YOURSELF PEOPLE!
MAKE SURE YOU’RE PROTECTING YOUR HEART
LOOK AT THE BLESSINGS AROUND YOU
LOVE YOURSELF
DONT LET YOURSELF COMPARE!

I’m Breaking Up With You.

There came this point a few months ago where I had to break up with you. All of you.

Here’s what happened.. I woke up in the middle of the night absolutely terrified with fear. I could barely take a breath and my heart was racing so fast. All I could think was ‘What is happening? how did I get to this place?’ I had to put my counselling tools in place and try calm myself down and go back to sleep. I’ll deal with this in the morning. It was a moment that had been happening frequently.

Morning came all too quickly and I kept thinking ‘How did I get to this place?’ the place where I was so scared to be around people, staying in bed seemed to be a better option, where I would be so fearful of speaking, where doing what I know I needed to do made me feel like the worst person in the world.

After sitting in an office thinking over this past year, writing down possible solutions, evaluating my life.. it was here I felt the drop in my heart ‘Someone has spoken poorly of someone and now you measure every action and word spoken to their poor judgement’ it was so obvious and a HUGE reality check for me.

I began to unpack this sentence and I could see all the areas it was effecting. I’m usually not the type of person who sees negative attributes in people (unless you have been around me over the past 2 years, I’m sorry, forgive me?) but I was commenting, judging and hating people. Like I said before I didn’t want to speak in front of people (4 years ago I was public speaking almost weekly) and I could barely make decisions because these people would possibly judge me and talk about me. AGHHH!!! It was all so horrible and defiantly not the place I wanted to be in!

I know there was a confident, peaceful, loving and fun person inside. So I had this moment where I said to myself ‘I need to break up with you. Every persons harsh words, looks and feelings. Every expectation. Every person. I’m breaking up with you. I’m letting the rope snap’ and like that It never effected my life again.. I’m joking!! It got harder. I had to make decisions based on me and God. I had to make conscious decisions not to enter into gossip or let that persons views enter my life. Did I get it right every time? I wish, I still make mistakes, I still say harsh things about people but I’m on a journey and one step at a time I’m changing.

Did all this change what people said? defiantly not, but there was no way I was letting it overcome and destroy my life. I had things I needed to get done!

So, Heres what I learnt:

  • What I say can work its way into the minds of the people who are hearing it and completely destroy or totally heal their lives
  • Be careful who you invest your time into. Who you hang around is the person you will come. I don’t want to be the mean, judgemental, bitchy friend.
  • Never let the judgements or words of others dictate your life (unless its someone who you have put in a position to speak into your life, but even then you need to make the final decisions)
  • Admit your weaknesses.
  • Practise what you preach. I’ve often lost respect and trust for people who say one thing but do a completely different thing. Its gross.
  • Its okay to walk away from a friendship if it doesn’t build you up

I don’t get everything right, I know I said it before but its something I’m working on and I can’t believe the change I’ve seen in myself over the past few months. I did a few self-assessments on anxiety, depression etc. for my course about 2 months ago and redid them 2 days ago.. The results were significantly better this time round. I’m defiantly a happier, more confident, positive, fun person!

That’s all for now! I need sleep 🙂

Peace.

The Power Of Speaking

Content warning: This post deals with suicide and depression and may be triggering for some readers.

What happened after I posted my last blog? I’ll be totally honest.

I was so scared, I barely slept, I woke up having panic attacks all night. But there was also this deep sense of relief. I DID IT!

Over the following days I received many encouraging words on the post (Thank you!) Many private messages of people sharing their own struggles with anxiety and when I looked at how many people viewed my blog it said 163! I was a little overwhelmed but a courage and confidence was rising up in me.

One of my biggest goals in life is to help people. Help people know their identity, help people discover their purpose, help people know they are worth it and help people work though their struggles. I guess thats why I’m studying counselling and family therapy.

No, I’m not Jesus, I don’t have all the answers, I’m not anyones answer, but I want to encourage people to explore their lives and help themselves find solutions and understanding to the things they are facing. Instead of avoiding, getting ‘busy’ and just surviving.

So, What I realised when sharing my struggles:

There is so so so so much power in speaking out our struggles and there is no new struggle under the sun. I remember back a few years ago when I ‘couldn’t’ tell anyone about my struggles which made me feeling isolated and guilty, but I also remember the days I started to confide in trusted people and the deep sense of relieve and the ‘oh its actually not that bad’ feeling, it was almost as if I was in a pitch black room and someone had opened the door just a little bit. There was HOPE.

Hope is such a power tool. Where we have hope we have freedom. Without hope we are prisoners. Often we can hide our fears, struggles, addictions because of the shame and guilt we feel. We all struggle, we all have issues. Why don’t we just start talking about them? I know when people share with me about their crap, I don’t see them as their issue, I don’t hold them to their struggle. I see them as a real person and I hold them to their potential.

Why do we need to start talking? Because everyday in Australia 7 people commit suicide, Worldwide every 40 seconds someone is committing suicide and how many more are attempting. It scares me that this is the answer for so many people and I want to be a voice for the ones that feel like they can’t speak. The World Health Organization estimates that more than 350 million people struggle with depression worldwide. One in 16 young Australians is currently experiencing depression, and three in four adult mental health conditions emerge by age 24, according to Beyond Blue.

Why else? When I work on my issues I am able to give more of myself in relationships. I can be the person I have been created to be. Fear takes over, anxiety creeps in and I hold my love back.

I know what its like to struggle with suicidal thoughts. Yeah.. I know! I just shared another struggle. Yes, my journey may be different to yours but I know this one thing.. THERE IS ALWAYS HOPE. Yesterday was a 2 year celebration for me of being off anti-depressants and tackling depression. Its been a hard journey, a very long road but everyday I am so thankful for the people who let me talk, who walked with me, who called out the good inside of me, who held my arms when I was tired and pointed me back to Jesus. I know that because I was given the freedom to talk about my depression I was able to overcome it. They didn’t have all the answers or any answers. They didn’t questioned me based on what they saw (she’s always happy and smiling). but they allowed me to explore and discover my hope.

Lets be people who speak, lets be a voice, Lets be advocates of hope, Lets watch the statistics reduce and Lets be real!

Unknown

If you or a loved one need to talk to someone please consider the following organisations, because you’re worth it:

https://www.beyondblue.org.au

http://headspace.org.au

lifeline: 13 11 14

Suicide helpline Victoria: 1300651251

Suicide call back service- 1300659467

or visit your local GP

For the people who help, you seriously don’t have to have any answers, don’t be scared, just listen. Help your person find a place they can talk and find helpful tools to assist in their processing.

I’ll tell you what.

This is both extremely scary but also so very exciting.

My FIRST ever real blog.

I don’t know how many people will actually read this. but I’m not doing it for that reason. I’m doing it because I need to.

I need to express

I need to write

I need to tell

I need to be transparent..

Social Anxiety..

It’s my crippling fear. I feel it in the morning. I feel it at night. I feel it walking past people I know or don’t know. I feel it when my phone rings. I feel it in every text message. I feel it writing this. I feel it seeing my therapist. I feel it walking into a room. I feel it on the train. I feel it going to church. I feel it at 3am. I feel it all the time..

I’m not sure if you know the feeling. But let me paint a picture:

“You’re sitting at your desk and there’s a knock at the door.. It takes everything inside of you to turn around and tell the person to come in. They come in and ask you to do something, they leave. You sit there holding the document they dropped off.

“I forgot to ask them how many copies

Do they want it now?

I have to walk past people

What if I do it wrong?

What if someone else wants me to do something”

Its ok.. I can do this.. I think. You get up and walk over to the photocopier. Avoid eye contact. My hands are sweating. My heart is racing. My breathing is rapid.

Your phone rings. Feel the air go in and out of your lungs. It’s ok. Just answer it. Your cheerful tone hides the nervous shaking of your voice. You fumble over your words. You hang up.

“What did they say?

That was a whole lot of information in a 2 minute phone call

I cant remember what they said because I was so stuck in my feelings.”

You make it back to you desk. Papers in hand. 5 hours left.”

Its not because I don’t want to help and do things. I love helping. I love achieving. I love to love people. It’s because I have believed the deepest lie..

I’LL NEVER BE GOOD ENOUGH..

It ruins our lives

It stops us being who we need to be

It steals from us

It sucks the life out of the world..

When I believe this lie. I realize I’m trying to be perfect. I’m scared of what people are going to think. I’m petrified of doing something wrong. I crippled by the feeling that they might discover that I’m not the perfect person I want them to think I am.. but guess what? They already know!!

It makes me so mad that this one lie takes away so much of my ability. It makes me so sad that so many young and old people believe it. It breaks my heart that we don’t know that we don’t have to do anything or be anything to be good enough. We are just good enough for being who we are created to be.

No job

No relationship

No car

No amount of money

No social status

No job title

No achievement will ever make you feel ‘Good enough’ if you don’t know your worth at the very core.

I don’t exactly have the answers but what I do know is that each day I am able. I am capable. I am powerful. I am loved. And because of that I can face the next situation. I can move past how tired and worn out I am. That’s its actually going to be ok.

My worth isn’t in what I’m doing but who I am. I am a human. I have failures. I don’t have to be perfect. I can make the biggest mistakes and screw up 1000 times and my worth never changes. My identity doesn’t waver.

Anyways. I think that’s enough for now.

Peace my loves!