Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) – Ex-RAF Veteran Guest Post

PTSD UK StatisticsPost Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD for short, is a type of anxiety disorder caused by a singular (or series of) traumatic events. The sufferer often relives these events through nightmares and flashbacks, which can lead to the sufferer feeling isolated and tormented.

Although military combat is the main traumatic event associated with PTSD, there are a number of other situations that can cause it. These include serious accidents; physical or sexual abuse or assault; being held hostage; witnessing violence or abuse; or experiencing a natural disaster. The symptoms can come about straight after the event, or quietly fester and traumatise its victim several years later.

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Being in Love While Depressed

Being in Love While DepressedSo you guys know that I’ve been battling depression for a while.

You may also know that I am currently in my longest ever relationship.

Two and a half years may not seem like a big deal to some people, but it is for me. My past relationships (if you can even truly class my couple of high school tonsil-tickles relationships) lasted a maximum of about three months before I became bored and broke up with them. I’m pretty certain my exes thought I was a heartless bitch and perhaps I was. I was too self-centred for a relationship and it’s something I still struggle with. After all, if you don’t look after yourself, who the hell will?

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Let’s Discuss: Panic Disorder

Panic disorderHave you ever felt suddenly so anxious and fearful that you find it difficult to breathe?

Have you ever felt this way for no apparent reason whatsoever?

Panic disorder sufferers experience recurring panic attacks, but have no idea why. Although it is not yet known what causes panic disorder in people, it is estimated that 2.7% of the population will experience it at some point in their lives. If left untreated, panic disorder can get worse and manifest in the form of obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and phobias.

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Some of the Best Self Help Advice I have ever received

Last Thursday I had an assessment/interview in London for a modelling agency. I passed the assessment, however it turned out to not be what I was looking for and I had to decline their offer.

However I can’t say it was a waste of my time or money because I met a wonderfully wise young woman.

Our assessment slots were at the same time so we got chatting. She was at the agency with her 5-year-old son; she wanted him to grow up to be confident in himself and therefore took him for some modelling. She actually did some modelling herself to pay her tuition fees when she was studying Medicine at university in Pakistan.

Somehow our conversation moved to how we both love writing and I mentioned my blog. I told her about my struggles with depression, and in turn she offered her own story with postpartum depression. That’s when she told me a fantastic self help tip.

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Oops! I was in Berlin.

I went to Berlin for a week.

To be honest, I wish I still was there!

Leaving real life behind for a new city allowed me to breathe freely for the first time in what feels like forever. There was no worrying about college or work or anything. There was just me, Phil, and a beautiful city that needed to be explored.

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Coming off Sertraline

I had a chat with my doctor, and he has recommended that it might be time to ween me off my antidepressants. The suggestion has left me feeling really apprehensive.

I’ve tried a number of different antidepressants over the past seven years of struggling with my mental health, including fluoxetine and citalopram. Sertraline was the first one that actually made a difference to my mood. I’m no longer bursting into tears at the drop of a hat. I was able to control my anxiety during my assessed presentations for my course. I can actually eat solids before an exam, which is huge for me. Overall I have become quite dependent on the way the antidepressants have flattened my negative moods.

The problem with sertraline, however, is that it flattens all of your emotions – not just the negative ones. It has put a dampener on my motivation and sense of achievement, which hasn’t helped with meeting assignment deadlines. I just don’t care enough. Another problem is that – like all antidepressants – they’re not supposed to be used forever. I have been on sertraline for nearly a year, and now apparently it’s time to try coming off them.

Part of me wants the chance to feel more motivated again. It would be nice to not feel so apathetic about everything. However I’m so scared of reverting back to the manic mess I was last year, who cries whenever someone asks me how I am, and has random anxiety attacks because I feel like a failure in life. It was horrible, and I just don’t want to risk going back there. But the doctor knows what he’s talking about, right?

So now I only have to take them every other day, and I have a follow up appointment in August to see how I’m getting on. Hopefully it will be okay, but right now I’m nervous.

Depression 101: It’s okay to ask for help

Anyone who has suffered with depression knows how difficult it can be to reach out for help. Depression makes you feel completely alone in a well of hopelessness that goes so far down that there can’t possibly be a long enough piece of rope to reach and rescue you. So it can seem pointless or impossible to ask for help of any kind, especially when it comes to university. I get it. I totally get it. Continue reading “Depression 101: It’s okay to ask for help”

Knitting for Baby Rhinos!

A few months ago I decided to learn how to knit for a cause that I am particularly passionate about.

 
The ivory trade has long since spiralled out of control, with an estimated 1054 rhinos poached last in South Africa alone, according to Minister Molewa’s annual report. Hundreds of baby rhinos become orphans every year, making charitable organisations like the Fundimvelo Thula Thula Rhino Orphanage more and more important in protecting and conserving the numbers of these beautiful creatures.
 
Baby J’aime with some of the donated blankets.
Photo credit: Jamie Traynor, Thula Thula.
I came across a group on Facebook – Blankets for Baby Rhinos – with people who were using their knitting and crochet skills to create blankets for the orphans at Thula Thula, and I just had to get involved too. Not that I knew how to knit or crochet, but I could learn.
 
The Facebook page was started by Sue Brown, founder of the organisation Rhino Alerts, and friend of the director of Thula Thula – Karen Trendler – at the beginning of the year. It may sound a bit daft to be making blankets for animals that live in hot climates like South Africa, but baby rhinos rely heavily on their mothers for warmth and comfort, since they can’t maintain their body temperatures very well on their own. The blankets are basically a substitute mother, keeping them warm so that they can ensure that they can gain weight and grow in the best condition they can. 1,889 members later, and Blankets for Baby Rhinos are now making blankets for rhinos, elephants, vervet monkeys, baboons, and chimpanzees.
 
Getting there slowly but surely!
I thought knitting would be easier, so I’ve started with that first; I’ll try my hand at crochet after this current project. So far I’ve managed to get the width of the blanket, and just need to finish the length of it. It’s taking a long time, and meanwhile my mum is throwing squares off her crochet hook like it’s the easiest thing in the world. But I’m getting there, and I’ve found that knitting is actually very therapeutic. And the cause keeps me motivated enough to work towards a constant feeling of accomplishment, which really helps.
 
If you want to get involved with this cause, please visit the Blankets for Baby Rhinos Facebook group. And if you want to donate money to the cause (after all, blankets aren’t exactly going to feed and house the rhinos!), do so here.

Dermatillomania: the Skin Picking Disorder

Dermatillomania (also known as compulsive skin picking or excoriation disorder) is a mental disorder that causes sufferers to feel compelled to pick at their skin to ease anxiety. This is often linked to OCD and perfectionism, picking at every little imperfection on the skin such as scabs and pimples. The horrible irony is that the sufferer falls into a wicked spiral of creating more imperfections in the pursuit of perfect skin, and potentially leading to greater mental disorders such as anxiety and depression.