Living in these strange times

So this year has been fun right? On going lock down arguably being reduced far too soon by good old Boris and his team with budgets being increased in for many provisions, bar one key area……. Mental Health.

It is noted by the government that mental health challenges are going to rise, the question is, why are core mental health provisions still not in place? Counselling services have been reduced by the NHS, which whilst I kind of understand, for those who are struggling more and more every day, where is the support to combat this? In a non-existent world.

So, as most of us have faced additional challenges with mental health during the current situation, I thought as my returning post, I would share some of the dark times I have faced and how I got through them. I had no intention of returning to this blog but with accidentally paying for the web address licence again, I should make the most of it.

Just before lock down my medical situation changed. The doctors began to reduce the strength of my anti-anxiety/anti-depressants medication, so the transition of that has been challenging to say the least. This alongside the complete removal of any counselling has been pretty horrible and gave me 2 options in the moment. Get on with things, or crumble.

I tried the first method for a while….. Well that went well. About 3 weeks in, the amount of anxiety attacks I had daily increased ten-fold. Waking up during the night sweating buckets, not being able to breath and having to sit outside in the back garden no matter the weather until I felt that I could breathe, was incredibly scary. Arguably the worst attacks that I’ve had in years. We have all struggled, but we have all felt alone deep down in this horrendous pandemic. I tried to suppress my worries by supporting those around me who I care about. It worked for a while but deep down Mr Positivity to those around me, was Mr Vulnerable inside. Maybe I should start a new series of Mr Men books if this continues?

I put on about a stone in comfort eating and whilst I have been eating healthier, it is not the point. I felt so alone at times. Having to do university work during this period has been further challenging with horrific anxiety and depressive episodes at times. Luckily during a group discussion module, the 3 people in my group were amazing in helping me, so to those 3, I thank you. These were not the only challenges, but I am trying to live up to Mr Optimistic for now. (Third new book of the series)

I suppose now the whole ‘getting on with it and make the most of a bad situation’ mantra is something I truly am trying to embrace. Being able to see people other than those who I live with, since Boris allowed us to, has been so refreshing. Today I visited somewhere new and it was such a beautiful place with a community feel in the woodland areas as I walked. It is true when they say that during this pandemic, we have been able to start to appreciate the simple things in life such as seeing friends and family when you want to, going to the supermarket care free, going for a drive and just enjoy exploring somewhere new.

For now, lets see how long Mr Optimistic lasts for before I introduce the fourth book of the series, Mr Miserable Sod to the collection. How often I will post, I do not know, but until then, stay safe, get confused by Boris and look after your loved ones.

Ben.

A Poem For Courtney

So as most will know we lost our beloved Courtney recently after a 4 month battle with Lymphoma which she so bravely fought so I’d thought I’d go back to the one way I know how to express my emotions and write a poem in tribute to our little furry angel.

Thankyou Courtney

9th of January you became one of the family,

Your beautiful eyes won us over, Sid had chosen you so carefully.

From stealing shoes and nicking bread,

Anywhere you wanted to be, became your bed.

Trained by Kelly to sit for Cheese,

We could never predict the legacy of which you would leave.

That famous Courtney Cuddle of which we all so dearly miss.

All those memories with you would be too long to list.

You allowed your fellow hound Aiofe, to have your home,

Because of you Courtney I know I will never ever feel alone.

So sleep tight my darling and you with the angels will play,

Until we meet again, spend time with Sid and Charlie, I will see you again someday.

Granted an openly emotional post may not be for everyone, but this is the way I express my feelings so I don’t struggle too much in dealing with things. The support from all family and friends for all my immediate family has been truly amazing, from cards of condolence to a brilliant photo frame engraved with a tribute to Courtney which we truly thank you for Lucy.

For now, blogging is not my priority, so until next time,

Ben

Channeling Worries to Positive Anxiety

This post was done across 3 days so if it seems a little all over place, you now know why 😂

So I’m sitting outside my lecture room waiting to do my presentation and I’ve just had a good old panic attack! The reality is for so many students across the country, between the next 3 months or so, there will be horrendous tests for them regarding exams and presentations which shape their lives massively. I’m not going to say it’s easy because it’s far from it but it’s about Courage at this time of year. Courage and finding the inner strength to get through it. As someone who doesn’t cope with exams or presentations very well, Tuesday was incredibly scary and challenging but with the support of those in my group, the support of my tutors and the understanding of those who had to watch the presentation, I got through it. Granted it was only 12 minutes but by lord it felt the longest 12 minutes of my life and I felt my leg twitching and I had to stop/limit my shoulder and eye twitches.

So the aim of this post is not to sugar coat the stress and anxiety of this, but in some ways offer advice, granted I’m no expert, but also try and teach myself a lesson or two about channeling that anxiety from negative anxiety and stress to positive anxiety where it encourages me to succeed.

So here are 7 steps, some of which are obvious, to channel that negative worry to positive anxiety!:)

Breath- Before you do anything particularly anxious, find some breathing methods that work for you. It could be the traditional in for 3 out for 5 or the paper bag method, but each person works differently so find your own way.

Question the Situation- Think about what exactly is making you anxious and realise that even though the exam or presentation or scenario may be incredibly important, these days with tests there is more than often a second chance at it and ultimately everyone will be nervous.

Accept Your Anxiety For What It Is- Anxiety will be there but it’s not going to kill you, in fact it will probably make you stronger for overcoming it.

Brainstorm the Solutions- Write down 5 ways how you can overcome that anxiety. It may be just as simple as you having to do the scenario and getting through it with courage.

Take Action- Take action to combat your anxiety. Try not to let it get to the point where you have no option but to have a meltdown. Think about the stimuli and the signs that you’re getting closer to the panic attack.

Be Comfortable With Your Actions- The biggest thing in dealing with your anxiety to to know that what ever way you deal with it, is the right way for YOU! You’re the most important person in this situation so even though others may not agree with you, life is sometimes about being selfish and ensuring you can get through things. Sometimes even though it may not be the right option long term, walking away is the right option.

Trust That Everything Will Work Out- Believe that in time everything will work out. It may not feel like that at the time, but your new path may be the right option for you. Life changes constantly so adapt to that.

The most important thing to remember is this: You only become anxious about something because you care and want it to go well.

Until next time,

Ben

1 Bad Day Doesn’t Mean You’re Weak

First post in 2 months after some challenging personal struggles so this kind of explains how I’ve got through them but also has relevance to someone else’s life.

So this post is inspired but something which someone I know is going through at present. The reality is though, so many people including myself have the view that one bad day can make a bad week, a bad month and make you feel weak. The reality is, having a bad day is okay, it’s fine, it doesn’t mean you’re weak or that you’re struggling again. Everyone has bad days but it’s about how we bounce back from them and accept it’s nothing that we can’t get through.

The truth is that by admitting it’s been a bad day, it’s not a sign of weakness it’s a sign of strength and bravery. I am a firm believer that no one is weak in life regarding mental health, in my view anyone with struggles mentally, simply need to rebuild their brick wall. As the analogy goes, a brick wall can be knocked down but it can be built back up again. So to use that in real words as such, it’s just about making sure one little knock doesn’t cause a huge meltdown. And even if it does create a huge meltdown, as with all walls, you just slowly over time rebuild your resilience again.

So many people require inspiration to find that strength to get through the tough moments but we are all our own inspiration. If we have a had a bad day in the past and bounced back from it, that’s all the inspiration we need! You’ve shown to yourself that you can do it once and you can do it again! I’m so proud of a certain someone right now and they will fight their brick wall and with some cement in the shape of their friends and with the bricks in the shape of their self belief, that wall will soon by a sky scraper.

Yes this is a little cliché but the message is there. We can all get through our struggles with some self belief and good people round us.

Until next time,

Ben

Back to it!:)

Been a few weeks since posting with Christmas and New year etc but thought it was time to return.

I intend to take the blog in a different direction going forward. It will be a mental health/life challenge post every other week, with a fitness and healthy eating based post the other weeks.

Now some people may not want to read the fitness ones, but this has never ever been about views, it’s only been about me effectively having a diary and being happy to share it.

So fitness and food wise, I intend to food diary through the trusty old MyFitnessPal so calorie counting which although is laborious, it’s the best way which I’ve found to keep to a diet and to be honest with it too. Calorie wise I aim to have 2350 per day, split into the 4 sections of Breakfast, Lunch, Tea and Snacks. Food targets will then be split into the 3 Macro groups and aiming to pick up Micros from other sources.

Learning from the past, consistency is key with diet but also having a treat is too!:) An amazing Instagram account that emphasises this too is CarterGood.

So this is it for this post. Simple intro into the new year and new project.

Until next time,

Ben

Clichè End of Year Review

At the beginning of the year I set myself 10 targets of what I wanted to achieve this year. Fair to say, I haven’t done any of the goals I set, but in fact, I’ve achieved things that I would have never thought of.

I wanted to lose more weight, well that didn’t happen, in-fact I put weight on😂.

I wanted to achieve a PB in a 10K run, well crippling injuries screwed that over.

I wanted to end the academic year with a 2:1, well I did that:).

I wanted to be in a good place going into the new year the the open uni. Well, a huge change of direction clearly happened on that front!

I wanted to achieve self confidence and self worth, for the first time in a long time, I achieved that.

Of all the times I wanted to achieve, this was by far the most important, I wanted to raise awareness for mental health one way or another. This is something which I believe I have done. This blog has supported that and I’m rather out spoken about how I feel the NHS are regarding mental health too!

Every year so many people set goals and don’t achieve them and get down hearted. The reality is, is despite those goals you have for yourself, you may achieve so much more.

In May this year when I was effectively told I was losing my job, I was heartbroken and worried about what the future may bring, but that happening to me, made me chase something else. I was disillusioned with the OU so explored a different avenue, to see if it was viable. 6 months on, it’s clearly was viable and being told I was losing my job, was probably the best thing to ever happen to me! Of course the reasons for losing my job were disappointing and something which I can’t divulge, but it certainly opened me up to the educational system!:)

After 2015, I knew life could never be that bad again and every year would be better than that! If someone would have said that losing my job which I loved so much, would be the catalyst for so much positivity to come into my life, I would have told them where to go as such. In life sometimes a positive may only come from a negative event!:)

So until next time,

Ben!

Hidden Battles

So I’ve been contemplating whether or not to do this post for a long while, but I think it’s relevant so here goes.

This post is going to be solely on the hidden battles which people go through, whether that be from mental health, eating disorders to a range of other illnesses. There is something which I went through from roughly 12/13 years old to 21/22 years old. I suffered from something called Night Eating Disorder (NES). Now this may seem a funny way of effectively saying, binge eating or being a pig, but during the first time of having depression, I comfort ate over night every night. Sometimes to the point of having 8-10 chocolate bars over night.

Now this is something which no one really knows I ever had, only really coming clean to certain people in recent months. An ex used to mention I was a “secret eater”, but I never ever felt the confidence to tell her. Now this was no fault of her own, but my mind made me feel guilt. Sadly having this for so long has basically destroyed my teeth which is why I now have major issues with them.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is, that people on the outside may seem perfectly okay and that they are facing no battles or issues. Granted I put on considerable weight during this period, but until late 2016, no one ever questioned my weight and neither did I.

Everyone has battles in life and so many people are afraid to get help, reach out and admit they’re struggling. Support needs to advertised more and give people the true belief that if they try and get help, it will be available and ultimately be available quickly. On average the waiting list for mental health support, is 8-12 months at present, something of which I have been on since August this myself. I’ve had to fight urges to quit uni, to give up on myself and at times not bother with life. Granted there’s so much positivity in my life at present, but just because that is the case for myself and so many, that didn’t necessarily mean, I was okay. Inside, I felt like I was drowning constantly and for around 4 months, I felt dizzy constantly, only ending of late.

I suppose what I’m trying to say is, is that we all need to be more aware of the fact so many people battle with issues of all sorts, but not many people will be aware of it. This issue once again goes back to where society is failing us all, in terms of how little confidence society gives us, that we will be supported if we admit our struggles.

Thankyou for reading as always,

Ben

How to beat the bad days

So it’s well documented that I struggle with mental health and those who struggle with mental health, will know that when you’re having a bad day or period, it’s incredibly hard to find a way out of it and to at times, not give up on life and the things you enjoy.

Of late, I’ve suffered incredibly badly with anxiety and feeling low about everything from uni, to Friendship, to family etc. But the reality is, I had to find a way through it and I still seek my path through it as I write this. Over reading week around 5 weeks ago, I had a huge anxiety attack, so much so, I ended up in hospital because of it, but somehow only 3 days later, I found a way to get to uni, and muddle through lectures.

So what am I getting at here? In short, it’s about how I found strength and showed that inner grit to see the light. On average I probably have 2 bad days a week where I really do not want to continue with uni, socialising and at times, the life which I have worked so hard to have. I’m incredibly open about how I deal with things and for me the best way I deal with having the bad days, is to write a blog post, write a poem or have a good old musical theatre session where I watch as many musical theatre films as I can. I’m not afraid to admit, it’s my guilty pleasure and hidden love.

I’m not going to preach or give advice on how to get through the tough days, we are all individuals and have our own ways, but I suppose what I’m trying to say is, is that during those bad days, try and find something you enjoy about life and spend time doing it.

Life gives you ups and downs, more downs than ups usually, but it’s about how we respond and turn back into the positives. We can’t predict what will happen in life next, but we can only respond to it and go down a positive route. An old psychologist who I used to attend counselling with once showed me that life is like a game of checkers. You can’t predict everyone else’s moves, you can only take a deep breath, think and then make your next move.

Until next time,

Ben

What Does Christmas Mean To You?

So with the time of the year being Christmas, those who know me well will say I’m a bit of a Scrooge. Not the biggest fan of some of Christmas at times as depressing as it sounds. For me growing up Christmas was all about The 3 Fs of Food, Family and Fun, and not about getting loads of presents. Yes me and my sister were well looked after at Christmas, but never spoilt at all. We were taught from a very very early age to appreciate any gift we received but also appreciate the family that spent time with us.

Every family has their own traditions for Christmas whether that be getting up at 6am to open presents or opening them after Christmas dinner. But if you think about it, everything you really do on Christmas Day such as presents and Christmas dinner revolves around spending time with your Family and loved ones.

This year for my family a different occasion will happen. Kelly and Her Partner have invited myself, parents, nan and most importantly the Dog, to hers for Christmas Dinner! Now her house is lovely but not huge at all, but I’m strangely looking forward to it. It’s something different but it’s a momentous thing for Kelly and Charlie as it’s their first Christmas in their own place, something which I am immensely proud of her for. The danger of all this is that she is cooking!! Yes she’s a good cook of every day food, but a big meal such as that, seriously does worry me, so if you don’t hear from me after Christmas, say a prayer or 2 for me and she’s probably poisoned me!😂

But like I said at the beginning of post, Christmas means something different to everyone of us and it’s not about what I think Christmas should mean, it’s about how you show the ones you love, you care and for just 1 day each year, you try to forget the sadness and stress of life and just enjoy life for what it is!:)

Until Next time,

Ben

A Huge Change

So the last week or so, something huge and quite nice happened. I was approached and accepted and now 100% agreed to a agreement of what direction the blog will be going in which will result in me being paid to blog. Granted it won’t be a great deal of money but to be paid for something I enjoy and also something I can write in roughly 15 mins per post, is brilliant.

Since I came back to blog properly in May, I chose to only focus on areas I actually care about and inspired to cover, so to be offered this chance for 12 months is brilliant. I haven’t achieved all that i want to with this blog yet, far from it but have a few ideas going forward into the new year about what direction the blog will go and what things I will be blogging about.

So admittedly this is a short post, but one which I am really happy to share and it’s the hard work I’ve put in the last 6 months, which has given this opportunity. So Thankyou to all that have read any of my posts as they all add to viewing figures and awareness of certain topics.

Thankyou once again,

Ben:)