Therapy for Anxiety #5


Recovery is not a straight line. Recovery is not a straight line. Recovery is not a straight line.

This week’s session was more difficult. I’m not going to lie about it, the whole point of this is to destigmatise therapy, as well as mental illness in general, and to give people an insight into what having therapy is like if they’re considering it themselves, so I’m going to be as honest as possible. After the last couple of sessions I came away feeling quite positive – exhausted but positive – this time, I was just exhausted.

Remembering traumatic events is hardly fun, and now we’re into the ‘proper stuff’ it’s pretty difficult to speak about some things let alone relive them. EMDR therapy means reliving trauma – to an extent – and getting the brain to process it in the way it should have done in the first place. To reprocess, you have to relive.

I have to say though, learning about why I suffer from anxiety and what’s happening to my body when I’m triggered is very interesting. It kind of all makes sense now. If I’m being completely honest, there isn’t a huge amount I can say about this week’s therapy session. We covered some difficult stuff, it was difficult at times, ok at other times. I slept really well afterwards and expect I’ll sleep well again tonight. It’s quite exhausting – both physically and mentally – going through these sessions. It will all be worth it in the end and I can see improvements in my day-to-day life already, so it’s important for me to stick with this. I can see the light at the end of the tunnel, there’s just a few barriers in the way at the moment. After I’ve conquered those hurdles, it’s onwards and upwards.

Hannah x



Learning to Relax with Meditation

I’m not relaxed when I’m relaxing. Sounds odd, I know, but hear me out. I feel like this is a really valuable lesson that could potentially help my wellbeing a lot now that I’m aware of it, so maybe it could help you, too.

Being a mental health blogger I hear lots of different tips and tricks for coping with mental illness, particularly now that #TalkMH has started. Also now that I’m doing therapy, my therapist gives suggestions as well. One of the things that kept cropping up was meditation. At first I was like what on earth is that? expecting it to be some kind of hypnotism or something, but now I can’t go to bed without it. It’s become part of my daily routine and has taught me the very valuable lesson that when I think I’m relaxing, a lot of the time I’m actually not relaxing at all. Of course, there are things that I can do to help me unwind, and I think that having ‘me-time’ is incredibly important, but relaxation means something totally different to me now.

When I’m watching TV or reading a book or writing a blog post, yes, they’re all things that I enjoy, but they’re not relaxing. I’m still thinking about the day I’ve had at work, what to have for dinner, or what post to write next. Even in the bath, something we typically perceive as being very relaxing, I’m still thinking about all sorts of crap. I guess I kind of assumed that because I was doing things that I enjoy and having ‘me-time’, it was relaxing. Now I have managed to distinguish a clear difference between relaxation and simply doing things that I enjoy. For me it’s about clearing space in my mind to prevent an overload of information and well, crap, that builds up over time causing (or worsening) stress and anxiety.

After many recommendations from others who suffer with anxiety, I downloaded the Calm app on my phone. Once I’d completed the initial 7 Days of Calm, I decided that I could now understand how this could potentially work, but I hadn’t given it enough time yet. I had a look at some of the other types of meditations available and spotted 7 Days of Calming Anxiety amongst many others that could help me out generally like 7 Days of Sleep, 7 Days of Managing Stress, 7 Days of Self-Esteem. I decided that I definitely wanted to give these a go so I paid for a subscription.

I got started on 7 Days of Calming Anxiety straight away and now that I’ve completed it, I have to say I’ve definitely noticed a difference! Particularly when it comes to getting to sleep and staying asleep. I don’t have time to meditate in the morning – I have trouble getting to work on time as it is – so I’ve always done it in the evening just before I go to sleep. I would definitely recommend doing this if you’re going to try it, I feel like I’m sleeping so much better since I started meditating. It’s such a good way of ’emptying’ my mind before I go to sleep with whatever has built up over the day, which then means that these things aren’t going around my head for weeks until I get to the point of a panic attack.

I really was dubious about it at first, but I’m so glad I gave it a chance. I never realised that relaxation could potentially be something we actually have to learn to do. We don’t do it as naturally as we think. That’s what I’ve learned, anyway.

Does anyone else practice meditation? What do you think of it – have you seen any benefits?

Hannah x

Therapy for Anxiety #4


In last week’s post I told you about how we focused that session on the blood test I had coming up on Friday in the hopes of helping me to deal with it better. I said I’d give a little update on how it went and whether it worked so…

No panic attack. No anxiety. A completely ‘normal’ blood test.

Usually the night before would have probably been worse for me than the actual event – this often happens – but I definitely knew that changes had been made because the night before my blood test I was so chilled out. I wasn’t even thinking about it. I slept well and ate well.

Now we’re really in the thick of it. I believe that this week we identified where one of my main anxiety triggers is coming from and to me, that’s great progress. I’m a very analytical person and knowing what and more importantly, why is something that’s often necessary to me in all aspects of life. Do you know that feeling where something in your head suddenly clicks and oh gosh how have I only just realised that? This is what happened. I was talking about a particular event and it suddenly all made sense: this is a key trigger.

I’m not going to sugar coat it, this week was tough. I cried and I’m exhausted but we must not forget that recovery is not a straight line and despite struggling a bit in the session, progress was made and now I’m actually feeling quite good. I actually feel quite proud of myself for the way that I dealt with it and the progress that was made. My therapist stops at intervals when doing EMDR, asking me to rate how disturbing I find that memory/event/scenario. At the beginning of the session this particular event was at an 8 out of 10. At the end, I couldn’t picture it enough to rate it.

As I said, recovery isn’t a straight line and I’m sure that when I’m not so tired and my eyes have recovered a bit more, I will be able to picture it again and it will be shit but, it might not be as shit. The whole process of moving traumatic events to the long-term memory means bringing them back up again – this is what we do in each session – so that they move on properly and are no longer triggers. When I then picture that memory/event/scenario it stays a memory and doesn’t become an experience.

I would also like to mention the weird dreams I’ve been having. After last week’s session I had three completely weird dreams a couple of days apart and to be honest I’ve never really paid much attention to the dreams I have or what they represent or whatever, I never really believed in that kind of stuff. But now I know that all of our processing happens whilst we’re asleep, I can recognise that some of the things I’m dreaming about aren’t at all random. It might be weird, but it’s not random.

After last week’s post a couple of people got in touch with me and said that after reading this series they felt encouraged to get help. Firstly, good for you. It’s a very difficult step to take so I respect you for taking it. Secondly, I would love to hear about how you’re getting on so if you’ve started therapy or are thinking about it, get in touch!

Hannah x

The Luxury of Confidence & How Thin Doesn’t Always Equal Happy


Image Source: Pinterest

Why has confidence and self-esteem become something so hard to attain? Why has it become something I merely hope I’ll get one day, like an Audi or a nice house?

I’m talking mainly about body confidence. This is something that has been affecting me for quite some time – it was one of the first things I wrote about on my blog – but recently, I’ve really been struggling. Body confidence is an incredibly important concept that I completely took for granted as a teenager. Now, this is an issue that directly impacts everything else in my life and is starting to affect me daily. I am unhappy with my appearance, weight in particular, which means very low confidence. This affects my relationship with my boyfriend, as well as my relationship with myself. The main thing I’m struggling with is that this is affecting is my mental health – recently my mum was like ‘Hannah, I think you’ve lost more weight’ and before I could even think of an answer I felt my heart rate increase and my throat close up and there I was standing in the kitchen brimming with anxiety.

I feel like there’s this misconception that thin = happy. If you believe this, you’re wrong. I am pretty thin and pretty unhappy about it.

So why don’t you just put on weight? Duh?’

Before you tell me to ‘eat a hamburger’ please consider the fact that I’m naturally petite and always have been, probably always will be, and even putting on a few pounds is difficult. Yes, this problem exists. I actually ended up in A&E last year after using (or attempting to use) protein shakes to help me put on weight, but that’s not the point I’m trying to make anyway.

Having such low confidence and a constant anxiety trigger is having a detrimental effect on my mental health, relationships and general attitude towards life and to be honest, I don’t really know why I wrote this. It’s probably just a brain dump. I think I just wanted to let people know that just because I’m thin, that doesn’t mean I’m happy. Please don’t think that being thin makes you happy, because I can tell you for sure, it doesn’t. I think a lot of people think that if you’re thin, how can you have confidence issues? The reality is, it’s not about your size. It’s about your perception of your size. This is the point I’m trying to make – really, it doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of your appearance, it’s about what you think. And you know what? My body has been through a lot. I want to look after it from now on.

Is anyone else experiencing low body confidence? How do you beat it? I would really appreciate some tips on how to improve self-esteem and confidence!

Hannah x

Rescuing My Hair with OGX Beauty

Recently the lovely ladies at OGX Beauty sent me a trio of goodies to try. I had my hair balayaged earlier on this year which uses bleach so it’s feeling a bit dry, so they sent a shampoo, conditioner and oil packed full of Vitamin E to help put some moisture back into it.

The first thing I noticed about these products was the smell. It’s absolutely amazing but not too overpowering and they don’t smell like other hair products which I think can sometimes be a bit overly fruity, this is more like an expensive, mature fragrance and honestly, if I could have a perfume that smelt like these products, I’d be so happy! The packaging is cute and I think these products look expensive as well as smell it!

After shampooing I usually leave the conditioner on the ends of my hair for about two minutes and come away with super soft hair that smells so good. Then, whilst my hair is still wet I apply the oil and I tend to find that after blowdrying, my hair is much easier to style. Unfortunately I can’t just dry my hair and leave it because it gets so frizzy which can be a real pain when you’re as lazy as I am, but I’ve been finding that recently the straighteners just glide through my hair so easily and it actually does what I want it to do. Generally I’m quite dubious about hair products because I think they all claim to do the same thing and I’m not one for spending loads on haircare but it’s safe to say that this range is definitely helping the appearance and feel of my hair and to be honest, even if it didn’t I would probably buy it just for the smell!!

Has anyone else tried these products? Did you love them as much as I do?

Hannah x