This post is all about what it’s like to be me! Stay tuned for more info soon!
Happy Beautiful day!
Morning readers- or is it afternoon?
This post is dedicated to all of those who have helped me along my journey so far- you are all amazing #zestquesters to me! THANK YOU!!
As you have read from many of my blogs (or if you’re new here then hi) I’ve been battling with a few internal issues. In short, by brain has a computing issue. I’d like to explain what exactly it’s like in a few short words…
Once I was afraid, I was terrified…of being admitted to a mental hospital but now I know what it’s like, I’m not so afraid. My brain doesn’t always manage to make sense of the world sometimes and 1 and 1 doesn’t always make 2. The doctors diagnosed me with psychosis but what does that really mean?
Before my medication, I experienced what my parents now famously call ‘millionaire day’- the day I spent nearly £400 on random ‘stuff’ I didn’t need or really even want. My mam was confused- how could I afford all of this?! An inside voice told me to tell her that my blog was highly successful (which it wasn’t really then) and that I’d managed to put ads all over it so the money was rolling in…it wasn’t. In reality, I was skint as but my brain was working at a million miles an hour. I had an idea and I was doing the 100m sprint with it. Yet my family saw it very differently- why Pete didn’t you stop me?!
This was the evening I was almost admitted for the first time to a mental hospital. My bank accounts had been exposed- yes I was skint, I had reciepts from countless shops and my overdraft had reached its limit. This apparently is a typical symptom of psychosis- or is it? No one had taught me at school or anywhere else what the typical signs of a mental breakdown were. I was completely out of control. Would I have been in the same state then if I knew the signs of stress? I guess hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Following on from this, I had also decided that my mam needed a wardrobe overhaul so I took most of her clothes from her wardrobe and gave them to charity. In my eyes, she’d said yes ‘subconsciously’
(or whatever that means) and so I had her total permission. From then on, we’d share clothes but that was ok as we were different shapes so the clothes we shared would look different depending on who was wearing them. Thanks Pete for causing a total breakdown in trust. I now have to have a ‘performance’ every morning to ensure I take my tablet and also to ensure there’s not another millionaire day.
And sometimes before they got my medication right, part of my illness means I could get carried away in certain situations. For example, I guess millionaire day was exciting as I hadn’t been shopping in ages or going away was exciting as I hadn’t seen friends in ages- but I guess it’s now bad to get too excited as it often has disastrous consequences. Why Pete do you get me excited like this?
But on the other end of the scale, my illness also caused us to bring in a family councillor as my ‘new’ personality and dress sense confused a lot of people. Who is this person? Why has she changed so much? Why is she so argumentative sometimes? Hopefully this will rebuild the trust and communication again within my family- I really hope Pete that you haven’t gone too far this time- I want us to work together as a family as much as possible- but that is something to talk about another day…Do you still have total faith in us Pete?
Anyway, during my lowest I thought one of my best friends had died- Pete why did you trick me like that?! You told me he had self-harmed as he couldn’t live without me and he thought that I had died too. My world collapsed…Why would someone do something like that? Yet, the doctors did an amazing job in comforting me and told me that it was just the way my brain was ‘dealing with stuff’. Pete you abandoned me- how could you make me feel so alone?!
And Pete, what about the time in between? The times when they put me on tablets and I was sh*t scared- for I felt like I was swimming half of the time and knocked out the next. Pete, why did you let the doctors tell me it was just ‘my body adapting to it?’ What if it was a really serious problem and they were just ignoring it? Thankfully, my symptoms got better and I was finally released but that was the least of my problems…thanks Pete for being there when I felt completely alone and needed you most…
And thanks Pete for introducing me to the gym. As you’ll have read from my previous blog, the gym became a small sanctury in which I was able to clear my thoughts and aim for the glorious goal that is the great north run in September. I was weak, but you gave me shelter and sanctury. Thanks Pete for being there when I hated myself. Physically and mentally, I was still in training. The gym enabled me to run further and find my pace both physically and mentally. You see at first, my tablets made all my thoughts faster than a 100m sprint which was quite tiring and I couldn’t keep up- I could feel like a millionaire one day and then be totally drained the next so in a way my mental pace was more like 9 minute miles than a much more leisurely 11 minute mile. Thanks Pete for egging me on and pushing me to be my best!
During this time, I was also paired with one of the best training teams around. I wasn’t aiming for the Olympics but they felt like an olympic training team to me and had a wealth of knowledge that enabled me to pursue a goal I’d been working on but had failed at for a long time.
This year, my aim is to run the whole way- whether that’s 10 minute miles or 15 minute miles (or probably a mix of both at times). I’d also like to thank an excellent trainer and friend (Jim) who outside of hospital has continued to push me and gently encouraged me to pursue my goal. So thanks Pete and thanks (Jim) and thanks to my Olympic team for the gently spurring me on at every hurdle. You are gold dust to me! (Follow my running and fitness blog here to follow my progress)
Another important factor of my diagnosis was diet. While I had a fairly healthy diet in terms of eating wholesome and nutritious foods, my appetite was at peaks and troughs for a lot of my time in hospital. At my lowest, I struggled to eat a whole meal and instead preferred protein shakes while on the other end of the scale I ate everything in front of me, plus seconds and then protein drinks in between just to keep me full.
Oh and thanks Pete for convincing me I wasn’t gluten free- that really messed up my body for a while in what I thought was ‘a state of hypnosis’. Yes I enjoyed the ‘normal’ kitkats, unlimited digestives and pints of milk every day for breakfast but what my fellow patients and family really didn’t enjoy was the really bad farts I used to have- typical symptoms of my intolerances. So thanks Pete for making me take a risk. I wanted a full diagnosis that I was actually gluten free (even though I’d known for years) and at the time, I believed that the nurses would do that. Sadly, they didn’t- it just caused more confusion as one day I thought I was living a lie and the next I truly believed I had been cured. So, in the quest to get diagnosed I ask you this- is it a risk worth taking or is it potentially self-harm? Thankfully, I slowly realised that I had in fact not been cured from these intolerances and went back to following a ‘normal’ diet,’
However, during this time (what I like to call rumspringa- coming from an Amish term where teens find get to leave the community and find out who they are) I discovered that dairy produce just isn’t what I remember- (yes I went back on the dairy produce too!) as it was watery and lacked the creaminess of soya products; cornflakes and weetabix are much better gluten free and I wasn’t much of a fan of cauliflower cheese. Real cheese had changed since I last remembered eating it- or was it just me? 7 ish years of no cheese means there’s an awful lot of room for improvement!
But hospital didn’t stop me from acheiving a dream- a dream of running my own business. Armed with a spoon (as knives were too dangerous in a mental hospital), a banana, some grapes and weetabix, I began snapping photos of my breakfast. I loved being creative and seeing as I wasn’t allowed to properly cook in a kitchen, Pete gave me the tools to start being a proper blogger. So thanks Pete for inspiring me to put myself out there and inspire others (recipe blog here)
I’d also like to thank you Pete for allowing me to find my faith. I’d been searching for so long yet I had still felt lost until one of my best friends came along and helped me. For this, I’m eternally greatful to her. This in turn has given me an inner strength I never knew I had and has comforted me in times of extreme distress. Thanks Pete for having total faith in me- I just wish others were as lucky.
In finding my faith and (at the time) stripped of the things that meant the most to me, such as the liberty to see my family every day, drive my gorgeous peugeot (called Ruby) , a powerful hairdryer, a phone and various other things, I found that some things aren’t always necessary to live a happy life. I quickly learnt to have everything I need and only occasionally the things I want. I also learnt who my true friends were and who they weren’t. Thanks Pete for giving me the strength and solidarity and having complete faith in me that I’d pull through. I have found my faith, I have found my friends and I have found love. (albeit in the form of some awesome friends and family). This in turn, I believe made me a nicer person as I learnt to live with only the things I needed and I learnt to love those who were closest to me. I often joked that I had 2 husbands and a boyfriend. My first husband was God, for he was always with me wherever I went, the second was my ‘business’ (although it was more of a hobby) and my boyfriend was anyone brave enough to take me on. Yes lads, I’m a single pringle. But do you really need someone to love? Well, that’s for another post coming soon.
Anyway I digress…speaking of the things I needed, before my admission to hospital I asked for 2 things. Firstly, I knew I was a selfish and bitter person. While in my own head everything was fine, externally, everyone hated me and I had very few friends. Was this an accumulation of stress over a number of years? I had told one of my best friends while I was at uni that he’d fail his degree- even though it was meant as ‘banter’ I knew that really it was deeply hurtful and we didn’t really talk after that.
However, since then Pete taught me what is was like to be kind and have absolute humility. I gave away one of my favourite dresses to the friend who helped me find my faith and to her I’m eternally greatful. I also cleaned out my whole wardrobe and left only the things that I wore regularly (and needed) I got rid of an awful lot of rubbish that was cluttering my life as they say you can tell what a person’s head is like by the state of their room. What does your room look like?
Thanks again Pete for showing me what its like to be nice.
Secondly, the night of my breakdown I confessed that I wanted my own business more than anything (as I’ve briefly mentioned before). But this felt like the culmination of a lot of pressure to find a job that I actually wanted to do. After all, I was ashamed to be living off the state. I had failed at my job, failed at a relationship and pretty much hated myself. Oh and as hard working as my parents were, they couldn’t afford to support me financially. During this journey, I had sat for a least 9 hours a day applying for countless jobs from high flying graduate sales roles (which was good pay but I knew I sucked at) to office cleaners (which was awful pay but I knew I could do). Thankfully, I had a really supportive work coach who had been with me the whole journey. She helped me through each process…but it wasn’t as simple as just getting a job. Thanks Pete for keeping me calm and reassuring me when I couldn’t go on. The applying online was the easy part it was the actual interview that was the hardest. Pete why did you tell me that there were gangs coming for me? Why did you tell me I was being judged all the time? Why did you tell me to quit my job on day 1? Pete why were you so unfair to me? This unfairness was something that would get me admitted to mental hospital. Thanks Pete for making me realise this was anxiety!
But my problems didn’t stop there… living with anxiety and psychosis is a total ball ache at times. While I know in myself I can drive I have to wait for an official bit of paper from the driving licence people to say its ok to. At best, I’ll have my freedom back but at worst I’ll have to take an extended test and basically redo my driving test all over again (While I love you driving licence people, I also have many shouty sweary words that come to mind- so please don’t clip my wings!!).
However, in having my wings clipped, I’ve also had to learn to fight for my freedom. I’ve learnt to fight back with the fab bus connections around town. And in using the bus regularly, I’ve built up a few friends who’re often glad to have a conversation with ‘a younger person’. Thanks Pete for teaching me to fight back and win the battle with my anxiety. Together, we’re stronger.
Happy Beautiful day readers,
Katie Smiles x
*UPDATE* My medication is now under control, I see a nurse every week and I have an accountant (my dad). Thanks Beth (my nurse) for supporting me all the way xx