A Message of Hope In Difficult Times

Just over a week ago, the world felt like a different place. Things felt a little less sad and scary than they do today. We are in the aftermath of great tragedies both close to home, Nationally and Internationally; and surrounded by the uncertainty of an election where it feels as though many people are feeling alienated by the politicians who are meant to represent them. Looking at the world feels terrifying, there is so much hatred and suffering right now and we seem to be in the midst of so much change, that it feels really unstable and messy. People around me are hurting and struggling and it’s hard to always find the positivity and hope to get through the tricky bits to a new day. What is the use in powering through if it’s going to just feel the same? In the depths of my struggles and battles with mental illness, I have felt really hopeless at times; I’ve had times where I’ve not been able to imagine a life without my demons and it’s felt awful, to say the least. But, despite the hard times, there were always little glimpses of hope. I think Dumbledore said it best:

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In times of difficulty, it’s so important to take stock of everything around you that is good. Look out for the tiny positives, wherever you can find them because the little things can build up and grow to a much larger amount of hope and goodness. Once you start recognising the good around you, your mindset can be shifted and things can feel a little easier and more positive. When I was in inpatient treatment, we completed a task of noticing positives or negatives during the same day and reporting back to the group. We found that it was much easier for people to find negative things about their day as opposed to those who were looking for positives, however those who were trying to purposefully find something good in their day generally had a better day and noticed the little things that were good. People who were looking for negatives tended to slip into a spiral of catastrophizing everything that was happening around them and assumed their day was going to be bad anyway. Despite it just being a short and non-scientific experiment, it was impressive to see there was a difference between the two groups. Now, the effects of positivity and gratitude are

Now, the effects of positivity and gratitude are widely discussed, with examples of improvement health, happiness and wellbeing demonstrated.  Whilst looking for a little positivity or gratitude, or even trying to create a little for ourselves each day won’t fix the world around us or protect us from some of the horrible, unfair and upsetting things that life can throw our way; it can help to create the resilience and strength we need to find a way through the dark times and back into the light. These good bits of life are like the little glints of sunshine getting through, add them all up and you might find your days get a little brighter and you feel a little stronger.

We are in difficult times at the moment and it is so important to seek support from those around you or professionals if you are struggling. You deserve happiness and healthiness and you deserve whatever support you need to get to that place. Stay strong everyone.

Lists Against Fears

THE NEW YOU.jpgWhen you’ve been in some sort of treatment for a mental health condition for a number of years; it can be rare to be presented with a new idea that you’ve not seen before. This isn’t to sound arrogant as if I’ve had all of the treatment there ever was… not at all. But rather, there are some similar ideas and techniques that come up more often than not. Whilst a lot of these traditional, go-to ideas are great, it can feel a bit hopeless if you’re just being given the same old. I’ve always had a belief that if what you’re doing isn’t working or really helping, then you need to keep trying until you find something that works! Sometimes it feels this is a real weakness of community mental health support. There’s a limited scope for overstretched teams to provide care that’s tailored to the individual and it can feel like professionals try and shoe-horn you into their own method of working… and discharge people who don’t progress within the parameters of what’s available.

Recently, I worked with a locum practitioner who gave me some new ideas, things I’d never tried before. I was a bit dubious about some of them, as they were out of the normal CBT based ideas I’d been given in outpatient treatment. The number of times I’ve had to write a food diary, compare it to my meal plan, write down my thoughts and then counter them with alternative thoughts; is probably too many to recall now! For so long, that has been the treatment. There’s been very little creativity. I’m not criticising the professionals I’ve worked with… totally… but I am saying there could be a little more variety in the kind of work offered to outpatients regardless of the understandably challenging lack of resources. So, back to my locum practitioner. One day we were talking about the importance of having my weight monitored. It’s something I’ve always hated and battled against. Partly due to OCD rituals surrounding getting a perfectly accurate comparative weight (yes… something I know isn’t really a real thing but that’s not the focus here haha). So being a regular argument had with the team, we began for a moment to have the standard backward and forward about being weighed. I was told why I needed it done and promptly replied with all of the counter arguments I could. It wasn’t really going anywhere and it was reminiscent of conversations already had.

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So she stopped us and pulled out a piece of paper, telling me we were going to think of a different way of tackling this. I was anxious and stressed and not very receptive to a new idea. She told me that we were going to write a list of thirty reasons why it was good to be weighed by someone from the team. We titled it in a positive way, not limiting ourselves to it being ‘ok’ to be weighed but going fully for it and using ‘good’ and specifying it would be done by the team. Already my brain was feeling a little frustrated that loopholes were being firmly avoided! It was a challenge, I definitely protested that there was no way I could think of one reason let alone thirty. But gradually with a little persuasion, the list began to take shape… the options could be sensible, off the wall or completely ridiculous. Here are a few we came up with:

  • People will stop nagging me to get weighed
  • Meg and Bert (my labradors) get weighed at the vets and enjoy it, so I can too
  • I can smash my scales into a million pieces because I don’t need them now
  • It’s just measuring my relationship with gravity
  • Good to give my scales a break/holiday/weekend break
  • Maybe I’ll enjoy it

And so on…

The list turned out to be a powerful tool. By the end of thirty reasons, I had been through fits of laughter, completely relaxed and actually if I had been weighed straight away… I probably would have been fairly relaxed about the whole situation. By finding thirty reasons that it was good for it to happen, I had a whole list of evidence to counter the negative thought processes that were going on in my head. I had a list of reasons that were quite motivating and I had something that could make me laugh and remind me that perhaps the whole process wasn’t too scary after all. I’ve realised that writing a list to counter my fears can be used in any situation that I’m worrying about or anything I’m struggling to be able to do. And the best thing… if at thirty you still feel anxious, you can always write thirty more.

Farewell 2016!

It feels strange to be coming to the end of another year. It doesn’t feel like a whole 365 days since I was writing at the end of 2015. To be honest this year feels a little like a blur of events, all sorts of challenges hitting us one after another! 2014 was the year I began to properly recover, 2015 was the year those skills began to be put to the test and 2016 feels like the year my recovery path has been truly rocked; leaving me having to work really hard to keep myself on the straight and narrow.

My end of the year blog needs to have a special space for my wonderful Mum, who has shown so much bravery and strength, especially in the last six months. She is my rock and I want the world to know how much I love her and admire her.

2016 was my final year of University… finally! After a long 5 years, I finally graduated. It wasn’t without it’s stress but it was a milestone I was very happy, despite all odds, to have reached. I threw myself straight into work and got promoted to lead my little team, which was very exciting! It’s been a year of successes and changes as well as adventures of all sorts. I went to Paris, on my first cultural exchange, which was totally amazing and introduced me to some amazing people. And of course, the best part of the year… when Stitch finally moved in with me! Well, I think seeing my wonderful friends Sarah and Debbie finally married was pretty amazing too!

This year has reminded me of the importance of all of my people (who aren’t all pictured, but I hope you all know who you are!!); I’ve vowed to spend more time with family and friends and all of the people I love and care for. Events of this year have shown me how precious everyone is, and how you really can’t predict the future. Sometimes things come along that throw your whole world upside down; and these are the moments that remind you of the importance of spending time making memories and enjoying time you have. You never really know what might come around the corner. I am so grateful for all of the support I have had from my amazing family and friends over the year.

2016 feels like a challenging year. Both personally, within my family and in the world around us. We are in a place of change and uncertainty and these are the times when looking after yourself and those around you is of utmost importance. Life is so very precious and that’s the most important thing, especially when the world is a little unstable.

Here’s hoping for a new year filled with good health, happiness and lots of exciting adventures.

Happy new year xxx

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Things To Avoid Saying To People With Mental Health Problems

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Recovery from a mental health condition is a complex and difficult journey that can be a full time endeavour. It’s not a a linear process; but full of blips and struggles as well as triumph and success. Recovery can be hard enough without unhelpful (even if well meaning) comments or conversations. Here is a collection of the types of things people in recovery wish you wouldn’t say to them! This list was compiled initially thinking about recovery from an eating disorder, but a lot of the comments apply to other conditions as well.

  1. Aren’t you better now?– Recovery isn’t a simple process with a clear beginning, middle and end. Unfortunately a course of therapy doesn’t mean you’re fixed and it can often be hard to tell where a person is in their journey by just looking at them. Recovery takes time, try not to assume that because someone has been doing better for a while, it doesn’t mean they’re ‘fixed’ now.
  2. You don’t look like you have an eating disorder (insert other condition here too!)- mental health conditions come in a variety of shapes/sizes and presentations. Try not to invalidate someone by telling them they don’t look like they have that condition. It’s just a bit offensive!
  3. You look fine/healthy/well– telling someone they look fine can be a real challenge to someone in recovery who is battling to come to terms with a new recovering body. It can be a really distressing comment that is often used through habit without any real thought or meaning behind it.
  4. OMG my cousin/aunt/hairdresser/a lady down the road had an eating disorder/the same condition as you– a list of all the people you’ve ever know with a mental health condition can feel a little insensitive. It’s human nature to make comparisons and find similarities in conversation but it can also feel a little invalidating to for the person who has felt able to talk about their own experiences.
  5. General morbid curiosity- sometimes there can be a sense of feeling like a bit of a spectacle with some of the types of questions you’re asked about your illness. My personal favourite was being asked what I ate and if I ate anything when I was unwell. The intimate details of eating disorders are kind of like sexy underwear… We all know it’s and it’s great for anyone who needs to know about it and be involved with it…. But at the same time, you don’t need to discuss it/flash it around. There is a time and a place for intimate details… Perhaps leave it to the person with the condition to guide you on their level of comfort when discussing it.
  6. I totally know what you’re going through, I had depression (insert time since/duration)– mental illnesses are really complex. It can be comforting to know that someone has an idea of the type of situation you’re in, but there’s a difference between empathy and complete understanding. People are all really different so try let the person with the condition explain their situation rather than your experiences getting too involved!
  7. I’ve been in hospital 50 million times more than you– perhaps 50 million is a slight exaggeration but mental illness isn’t a competition to see who’s’ been more unwell. Inpatient stays aren’t a badge of honour that demonstrates to the world that you were the most unwell. Often people suffer from eating disorders in the community and lose their lives, demonstrating that those in hospital aren’t always the sickest.
  8. I have a stomach ache… well I have reflux… well I have IBS… well I have gastro paresis… OH well I have had my bowel removed… WELL I was pronounced dead!… Well I AM ACTUALLY DEAD/chronically and severely dead. Did you have a glucose level of 0.00000001 and get resuscitated?!- again perhaps a slight exaggeration… But battles of the sickest can also take place through unhelpful oneupmanship, where it can feel competitive to have received the most dramatic treatment or diagnosis. In reality, it’s probably not helpful for anyone… So could be another good area to avoid!
  9. Start exercising… it’s healthy for you– for people in recovery, diet as well as exercise is normally controlled and managed in terms of what is appropriate for that individual. Diet and exercise advice is probably left for the professionals to deal with. You never know, you might be suggesting exercise to someone who is not physically well enough to take part in it or could make someone in recovery feel really guilty about their exercise regime and potentially trigger them to feel compelled to do more.
  10. Be naughty, have a slice of cake or saying ‘OMG we’re so fat’ whilst eating something ‘unhealthy’– now… Repeat after me… There is NOTHING naughty or bad about cake or foods that are deemed less healthy than others. Thee secret to a health diet is to have a balance of food groups including those that have fat in them. Cake is good and tasty and something to be celebrated, if you think it’s naughty then perhaps you need to think about your own relationship with it!!
  11. People telling you about their diet and then remembering and saying… oh but not you– diet talk is really challenging. In my experience my ability to cope with that conversation depends on how I’m feeling at the time; generally it doesn’t bother me. The thing that does is people following it on with judgements about my body or whether I should or shouldn’t be dieting. When my eating disorder is strong or my perception of my body a little out of whack, the last thing I want to hear is people telling me I don’t need to diet whilst telling me about all the dieting they’re doing. Think about your audience.
  12. People stopping to ask if you’re ok because you look healthy or assumptions that eating=healthy- sometimes the hardest part of recovery is the point where you look a lot more ‘fine’. Recovery starts the moment you’re free in the real world with real world problems and stresses… that’s the point true recovery starts. Just because people look healthier, it doesn’t mean that everything on the inside is hunky dory and it’s quite sad to feel like you got more support when you were the most unwell… it kind of perpetuates some of the underlying issues with different disorders.
  13. Saying ‘you’re fine now right’?– fine is a really tricky word! What even is fine?
  14. People saying ‘I’m glad you eat now’ I know for a fact, my family were very relieved to see me eating more normally and healthily. But constant reminders that I was eating ‘now’ were excruciatingly difficult and had the potential to make my head go wobbly. It was just easier to change the topic away from the food. Food and eating is just a symptom of an eating disorder, it’s much nicer to talk about normal mundane things around meal times rather than dwelling on the thing I found tricky!
  15. Telling you an ED is just about eating– the above leads on to this suggestion too… in recovery, you are told often, that eating disorders aren’t simply about food or eating. They are complex and challenging mental health conditions and moving the focus away from the food can allow the real psychological work to begin. Reinforcing unhelpful stereotypes of eating disorders isn’t the most helpful way to approach them.
  16. ‘Just eat healthily’ or ‘just get over it’ or ‘it’s all in your head’– of course… if recovery was as simple as just getting better or just being healthy, a lot of people wouldn’t get so stuck within the cycles of eating disorders… much the same as pulling yourself together or just getting over it, it’s much easier said than done.
  17. It’s ok to lose a bit of weight as long as you control it/stay within your healthy BMI/just a little– This is another example of leaving the judgements to the professionals. Any form of weight-loss for someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder needs to be managed really carefully as it can be a strong potential relapse trigger.
  18. When you eat in front of someone and they instantly think you’re fine now or you refuse something as you genuinely don’t want it and they act like you’re dying– it’s normal to have a differing appetite at different times, whilst keeping an eye on someone recovering from an eating disorder and supporting them with their intake is really helpful, jumping to conclusions can cause stress and tension in your relationship. Rather than casting a judgement, perhaps be curious about what’s going on and check they’re doing ok.
  19. When you genuinely have allergies and people think its just an excuse to not eat or not being able to eat certain things because of health issues and people think you’re not doing too well at the moment– this kind of statement belongs with other aforementioned comments that should be left to professionals to discuss. It can be easy to jump to conclusions about choices a person is making and whether or not they are eating disordered… but it’s definitely better to be curious and ask rather than assuming.
  20. Saying “no she wont eat this” without evening offering–  these kind of comments or situations can make it obvious to a group that you have problems around eating; not only can it  be embarrassing, it also sets up a perfect opportunity for eating disorders to take advantage of the situation. It’s much better to offer anyway, you never know, ‘she’ might decide to be brave and participate in whatever is being shared and will feel more included at being able to have a choice.
  21. When someone says “I haven’t had an appetite so I haven’t been eating much, but at least I’m losing some weight”– weight-loss conversations are often best avoided with someone who is in recovery, as it can feel quite upsetting. If it does feel ok to talk about weight-loss, it’s perhaps better to stick to healthy methods rather than taking pride in having lost weight through illness.
  22. Pointing out people around you and commenting on how small they are– comparisons are often a big fear of people with issues around body image… if you’re pointing out other people and making judgements about them, imagine how that could be impacting on a friend who assumes everyone does it about their weight or body!
  23. Saying”you’re eating french fries?!” “You should eliminate X from your diet”– whilst fad dieting tips and ideas are common in conversations, it’s not healthy to eliminate entire food groups from your diet. It’s especially unhelpful to suggest this to someone with an eating disorder as it can really give their illness room to get creative!
  24. ‘You are useless’ or ‘no wonder your manager doesn’t like you if you act like this’– mental health conditions aren’t a measure of your worth as a person… and it’s really unfair of someone else to comment on you in this way. Telling someone who is struggling with a mental health condition that they’re useless is often reinforcing the way they already see themselves and really isn’t helpful… to then apply these unhelpful judgements to other people… well that just feels pretty out of order regardless of your mental health!
  25. ‘Grow up’– Unfortunately eating disorders and other mental health conditions aren’t a sign of immaturity and don’t just disappear as you reach a certain birthday… maybe if you feel like saying this, you could do with a little growing up yourself!
  26. ‘Everyone finds things hard, you just give in’– life and being a human is really complicated. Unfortunately combinations of events, feelings and other elements such as illness or even the weather; can impact on our ability to cope with what’s happening. We all have those days where you end up in tears because you dropped a plate and it was just the final straw to a bad patch! Having a mental health condition isn’t a sign of giving in, often it’s a mark of someone trying to stay strong on their own and not asking for support from those around them!
  27. ‘Those pills are fake’– generally people don’t take medication without a good reason for it, especially for mental health conditions; it can feel embarrassing or shameful to admit to having medicinal help for a condition… but you wouldn’t question someone with a physical health condition taking prescribed medication for it!
  28. ‘It’s sad you need to write things down to realise what’s going on’– if someone has a coping method, try not to destroy it with your words. If it’s working… then does it matter if it seems ‘sad’ or ‘silly’… I like to blow bubbles when I’m stressed. It harms no-one and immediately reduces my anxiety… taking the place of unhelpful eating disorder behaviours. Don’t judge and perhaps give it a go yourself, you never know it might help!!
  29. ‘You don’t look anorexic’– If I had a penny for every time someone has said this to me! Coupled with ‘you look fine now’, it probably tops my list of the most unhelpful thing someone can say to someone who is in recovery from an eating disorder. Firstly, eating disorders come in all sorts of shapes and sizes… but secondly, the goal of recovery is to not look skeletal but to restore a healthy weight. Being told you don’t ‘look’ like you have an eating disorder can be highly triggering and stressful, it’s just additional unnecessary fuel for a nasty ED!
  30. ‘You’re eating loads’– In recovery, prescriptive meal plans are given for a reason. They’re worked out on the basis of the amount of food the person needs. It’s really hard to have that questioned by other people… it’s the amount it is for a reason!
  31. ‘Your problem is that you’re just over-sensitive’– being sensitive is such a positive quality… but over-sensitivity isn’t really a DSM-V criteria for a mental health condition. Often people with eating disorders have very selfless personalities and worry about impacting on others… but it isn’t a single reason for their difficulties.

Sometimes what people do say isn’t the difficulty. Mental illness is complicated enough but often it becomes a barrier meaning people avoid saying something or doing something but the person with the mental illness or difficulty wishes they hadn’t.

One way of tackling difficult conversations is to take a lead from the person with the mental health condition. They can guide you to the right balance and level of discussion. If you are able to promote open conversation that’s respectful and compassionate, they’re more likely to feel more able to be honest with you whilst feeling safe to do so. The moral of the story is… don’t NOT speak to someone with a mental health condition, but perhaps think before you speak and take a little time to judge whether what you’re saying is appropriate.

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Thank you so much to all of the wonderful contributors who made this blog possible and not a rambling list of purely my own experiences!

For All Those Who Are Struggling

A Message For People Struggling With Mental Health Problems

Mental illnesses are horribly isolating at times, this is a message for all those who are struggling right now. Whether you are someone I know or a stranger far away, this applies to you. Heck, this isn’t purely for people who are finding their mental health a challenge right now, but includes all those who are struggling with life or situations being put their way. 

 

Dear wonderful person;

Yes you, if you’re reading this letter then the first thing I want to say… is that you are worthy to be doing so. The way you’re feeling right now, you probably don’t think you deserve any extra love, kindness or compassion. But the truth is you do. In fact right now you deserve it even more than usual, because the fact that you’re feeling back is reason enough. I can imagine right now, you’re wanting to give up at times, throw in the towel and stop trying to get through the day. A blanket fort probably feels like a safer alternative to life… and for now, perhaps it is and that’s totally ok.

You’d probably quite like someone to come along with a magic wand and make everything feel ok again. I really wish I could be that person, the one to take away the sadness or the struggles and make it all better. Unfortunately I can’t do it right now as much as I would like to. All I can say, is that it’s not going to feel exactly like this forever. Of course there might be days when you feel worse, but I believe and hope that better days will come too. They might not be the recovered all singing and dancing days you might anticipate or wish for, but they could be days where it hurts a tiny bit less or the sun just seems a little bit brighter. The thing is, even when everything seems completely hopeless, if you keep a look out you can find or spot the tiny bits of goodness in the world. It might be hard to find them at first, but I assure you, if you keep practicing and noticing… you’ll be amazed at what is out there for you to see.

Your problems are valid. Yes there are people in the world who are experiencing different struggles to you, but it doesn’t make what you’re feeling or they are more or less important. You problems are your own, it’s ok to identify them and take ownership of them. But at the same time, if you just want to put them aside for this moment and take your mind off them. That’s ok too!

Your moment will come. Right now might not be the time that you do the most exciting and groundbreaking moments of your life happen. But that’s ok. You will get through this challenging time and great things will come to you. Take this time to get through this moment, but try not to focus on needing to make it completely better and fixed immediately. It will come.

Life is like an amazing novel. If someone asks you to summarise a book you’ve just finished… I’m fairly certain you will remember the basic storyline and plot but not all of the intricacies that came together to form it. You won’t remember which chapters made you particularly happy or sad, but have a more general idea of the whole story. That novel is like your life. There may be chapters that are hard to get through, or feel like they will never end… but when you look back you will see them part of a rich story and not the crux of it.

I really hope you feel better soon, and if not totally better… just a little bit will do. You will get through this, it’s going to be ok. You can do this!

All my love,

Kate

I Don’t Have Time For Fun!!

After handing in my dissertation last week, I realised how little time I’d been setting aside for self care. It’s so easy when you have an upcoming deadline, an important project at work or even just other life stuff going on… to just set recovery to one side. You can do a ‘good enough’ job… and hey isn’t that what they always said to do! But you can really end up settling for a middle ground that can ultimately not be very enjoyable or helpful.

I’ve spent a few days recently, having FUN! That carrot on the stick I dangled ahead of myself as I was completing my final piece of Uni work; that THING I’d forgotten how to do. It was easy to finish my diss and get right back into exciting things at work. I’d had a bit of a debrief after my hand in, but it wasn’t much at all. As I dived straight into new projects and began picking up the slack again at work, I realised I’d really been neglecting my own self care for some time. Now the truth is, I am an A grade hypocrite at times! I work with amazing young people who inspire me so much and I frequently recommend different skills that they could utilise to help boost their mental health. They laugh at me for the number of times Mindfulness comes up in our chats, but the truth is, I know from experience that it can REALLY work! That being said, after finally stopping at the end of this week, I took stock of where I was at and all the self care things I’d neglected over the last few weeks. Self care is so easy to neglect and it can take some effort to manage to squish it back into a routine where it was so easily replaced by other ‘more important’ things to do. The number of times I tell myself or hear friends saying, they don’t have time to do the nice things they want to, is a bit ridiculous. If being in hospital for almost a year taught me anything (which of course there was lots), it was that you can take time out of life and somehow everything still happens without you giving it your full attention (thank you wise guru Gerry!).

In a sense, a little self care each day can be a sort of personal early intervention. If you top up your internal store of resilience and ‘ability to cope’, then you’ll have a good stock if something comes up in life that you need to deal with. I’m starting off slow and making sure I have at least one nice/fun thing in my day. It can be as simple as a nice bubble bath, reading a book or spending a bit of time pottering in the garden. The key is to help find my space for something good each day and firmly get it into my routine again; once it’s got a foothold and feels like the norm, perhaps I can let it blossom. I think it’s starting to help already.

 

 

But What If I Fail?

I’m staring at the screen, wishing the words would come easier. They’re there, wrapped up in some part of my head that feels a little unaccessible at the moment. The wrapping; layers of self doubt, perfectionism and pressure… winding around them tightly. Writing should come easily, I do it every day as part of my job; and yet when the pressure is on, it seems a much more difficult task.

I’m used to deadlines, it comes part and parcel of working in content and media. It’s strange that those kind of deadlines seem so run of the mill. Perhaps it’s the level of anonymity that I can hide behind when I write for the website where I can become the voice of the organisation. In reality it is still me! And of course, there are many people around me that know it’s me. The veil of anonymity a little shattered. Next explanation? Perhaps it’s because it’s expected of me, I want to do it as well; don’t get me wrong. But writing is my daily responsibility, it’s my role and job… so maybe it isn’t that!? The reality is perhaps a little more simple. This is the final piece of work I’m completing before my degree is done. There I said it. Last chance saloon, achieve now or never. This is the grade that could make all of the difference, it’s weighted more and could be the key to the degree classification I desire! The pressure is on, it’s the final countdown… you know the feeling!

It’s hard to keep reminding myself that all the work I’ve been doing has in fact led me to this place. I didn’t happen upon it by chance. I learnt the skills, practiced them and perfected them with everything that came before this stage of the course. The problem lies in being able to accept that I am capable of completing this final section and shelving the negative thoughts to enable this block to pass! It’s not a test, set to trip me up and prove that I was in fact never going to get a degree. My lecturers weren’t just being kind to me and telling me I was going to be ok for the fun of it. It is something that is completely in my power to complete and succeed in. And the reality is, even if it’s not the most amazing piece of work in the entire universe, it’s not a reflection on me as a person. And in all likelihood it’s going to be pretty alright judging on my other marks! I will pass my degree because I have worked hard to do so, of course a shiny classification at the end would be wonderful, but actually it would be a nice bonus. The past five years have, in many ways been a bit of an upward struggle with mental health problems trying to block the way every now and again. It has been a time of struggles but also achievements, the worst and the best parts of my life in a long while!

Of course, the stress I’m feeling is not uncommon. Just walking into the library, you can sense the culmination of pressure and tension radiating from a multitude of students, all doing what I am now. In the next few weeks, there are going to be plenty of blank screen moments. There’s going to be a lot of the time when perhaps it feels like we’re all on the track of an impossible task. But in a few weeks time we’ll be able to finish and look back on this time as the final push to complete Uni. It’s going to feel stressful because it matters, we all want to do well. The main thing I will be remembering is that I will probably do better if I try to look past some of the pressure and fear and just do what I’ve learnt to do!

Good luck my fellow finalists! We’re going to get there in the end!