A single second of 24 hours

It's taken me a few weeks now to sit and actually write this post. I'm still currently off work sick, due to higher levels of anxiety and panic attacks than usual. It's almost been 2 months and during this time I've been trying my best to still maintain a life. I've been going into town on a regular basis, driving to the next town, going out for little walks and one of my favourite things to do...going to the football. If someone could tell my mind and body that it isn't a situation to be feared that would be great because they don't seem to be listening to me. None of the situations are easy, sometimes it takes me a few attempts but trying is the main thing.

To the outside world, people looking in on my world (mainly photos shared on Instagram and Twitter) people will think I've not got a problem, everything is a breeze for me, a walk in the park. Not quite. For example I'm often going to the football but doesn't mean I do it with ease, far from it. 

If and when I finally make it to the football I don't walk in calm, collected, physical symptom free, without a worry running through my mind. I walk in pretty fast, on edge, feeling sick, panicked, I spend the best part of the game eating either mints or ginger biscuits trying to enjoy the game and the atmosphere. If I never went when I felt ill I would never go, so onwards and upwards, I'll push through a little. I go with my mum and our two friends but one of them actually picks my mum up just incase I don't make it to the game, atleast then she doesn't miss out on the match.

This year on Mother's Day we went to the football (because where else would we be on Mother's day?) and this happened after the game...


Life moments that I won't be forgetting in a hurry. Doncaster Rovers is such a wonderful club, everyone makes you feel like part of the family. It's a warm, happy, friendly atmosphere and I love being a part of it.


The point of this post is to prove that a photo literally captures a second, we can all put on a brave face and smile, pretending everything is ok when in reality that isn't always the case. These photos don't capture me in the stadium an hour before shoveling a mixture of ginger biscuits, mints and Bach Rescue Lozenges as if they were going out of fashion. They don't capture me rushing to the car after the game because anxiety feelings were coming in fast. They don't capture me driving around in circles up and down the streets around the stadium calling my mum and telling her 'we need to go NOW'.  They don't capture me not being able to stay in the drive thru at KFC after meeting some of the players and arguing with my dad who called me selfish and told me that it wasn't exactly climbing a mountain. I just wanted to get home as soon as possible.

On the flip side it also doesn't capture how the players and manager are actually feeling either or what they've experienced in the changing room before the game/at half time/after the game, their time on the pitch or walking down the corridor to go home. It doesn't capture their life out of their football careers.


A photo captures a single second of a persons day. Easier said than done but try not to compare your entire day or life to one persons photo.  If someone has had a pretty crappy day they won't exactly be wanting to take photos and share that part of their day with the world, remember that.


'Life is like a camera, focus on what's important, capture the good times, develop from the negatives and if things don't work out, take another shot'.

more bad days than good...

Over the past couple of months or so now I've been struggling, more bad days than good.

I don't think a day goes by when I'm not worrying about my life (lack of it some days) or when I'm not scanning my body for signs of danger, possible serious illness or even a teeny tiny illness, a normal bodily function is triggering a panic attack.

I'm currently off work on sick after experiencing higher levels of anxiety and more panic attacks. The other day I hit a new record for me, 4 panic attacks in a day. I don't remember being this bad for a long time, I'd probably say as far back as the beginning of my diagnosis. I know 4 isn't many for some, a long time ago it wasn't for me but right now it's pretty big.


I write and share my life and experiences online to help others know they aren't alone, to help break the stigma and educate people. To prove that things can and do eventually get better, it might take some time and practice but it will be worth it. One day you can do something, the next you can't but don't beat yourself up over it (easier said than done I know). I'm hoping a few months down the line I'll be feeling a heck of a lot better. I'll possibly report back even though this is only my second post this year, I'm failing at blogging this year.


Mental illnesses are pretty much invisible. You can't see someones physical symptoms, the internal torment someone is experiencing, the daily battles they are having with their own mind. Some people don't understand mental illnesses for lack of knowledge (we'll educate them), others don't understand because they just don't frankly give a shit (we'll remove them from our lives).  

It's important to remember that it's okay to not be okay. It's okay to take time out, it's important to listen to your body and rest, recharge your batteries. If something doesn't feel right, chances are it isn't. Look after your body, give it all the love and care that you can possibly give.

If you're experiencing mental difficulties please seek help, it doesn't make you weak. It makes you strong for reaching out for help. There is always someone there for you.

If you don't know where to turn to, try either of the following two charities.

Mind

Samaritans

I've personally used both and cannot praise them enough. They are there for us, so please if you are feeling low use them.

4 years of blogging!

February 5th 2013, the day I decided to start writing online/in a book then typing it up to share online. The time I decided writing might help my thoughts rushing around in my head, it might quieten them or atleast slow their pace down. It might make me understand the way I was feeling. Little did I know 4 years down the line I'd still be doing it and loving it. I'm not blogging nowhere near as much as when I started but back then I was firmly in anxiety's grasp, I felt I had very little going for me. Things have changed a lot since 2013.

I was spending most of my days trying to figure out what the hell was happening to me. Back and forth to the doctors in search of answers, switching doctors too in hopes of one of them actually helping me. Thankfully I found that one doctor and I really hope he doesn't go anywhere anytime soon. It took a while for him to pinpoint exactly what was wrong and that was made very clear when I had a full blown panic attack in the waiting area that then continued into my appointment with him.


Now I sit here writing this I'm recapping over the past 4 years of blogging, how much I've achieved is amazing for me. I haven't saved any lives or climbed any mountains, well I guess I have climbed a few mountains just not the real life ones. You know the kind of mountains I've climbed, the ones like making it out of my front door.


When the 5th February comes around each year I get a mixture of feelings. The main feeling is a sense of pride, not only for my blog itself (it's had a few makeovers over the years but it's finally starting to feel like home) but pride in how far I've come, how much I've grown. I feel happy to have made it through the bumpy road and finally feel like I'm getting a grip of this mental health/illness business. It took a long time coming I'll tell you that much and I'm still learning things every day.

*HIGH FIVE* to you 21 year old Anna who had no clue what she was doing in life but you are slowly getting there, you've got this girl (well most days anyway)!



Taking part in RED January


I've been a little M.I.A recently on here. The reason for that? I've been living life, life has been busy, Christmas has happened and I haven't found the time to sit down and write. I've got 4 posts as drafts already so I'll hopefully get round to finishing them off at some point. But whilst I'm here let me tell you about RED January.


Today I discovered on Mind's twitter feed that they were launching an event called RED January, want to find out more and maybe even get involved? Click here and it'll take you to the information page. If you just want the basic details I'll fill you in now.

RED January stands for Run Every Day January. It's as simple as that, you can even walk if you don't want to run. The point is to just get moving throughout January to beat those winter/new year blues.

What happens whilst you are moving everyday throughout January? Well you are improving not only your physical but your mental health too but you'll be raising money for Mind. 

For me, this event was a no brainer. I'm always getting outdoors for a little bit of fresh air, to stretch my legs and have a break from whatever I may be doing. I work in an office 9 til 5 so without fresh air every now and then my mood is terrible.


If you want to be an absolute gem and sponsor me I'd really appreciate it! I plan to take photos every day to update my Instagram and JustGiving page. Psssttt, a little birdy just told me if you click on JustGiving page you'll be taken straight to my page. :)

Thank you for taking time to read my post and thank you in advance if you sponsor me. All money raised will go to Mind, the wonderful charity making sure nobody faces any mental health problems alone.

'the big bang' at the keepmoat stadium

A couple of weeks ago now I won tickets to go to a firework display, 'The Big Bang' held at the  Keepmoat Stadium (Doncaster Rover's football ground). Me and my mum had considered going to the event a few times in previous years as we are often at the Keepmoat watching Doncaster but I guess we just never got round to it.

The night was fun filled with the local radio station presenting all night, prizes to be won, food and drinks to be consumed, rides to be enjoyed and fireworks to be admired.

But of course any kind of event with anxiety isn't going to be an easy one. I thought I'd share with you the outside world version of the night and the inside my body/mind version of the night.


Outside world version of the night...
I stood around waiting for the fireworks just like everyone else, I'd occasionally move around from where I was standing. To get there I drove myself and my mum traveled with her friends (well for half of the journey) so I had about half an hour waiting around because I said I'd stand near the local radio station big screen because then surely they'd find me ok? Oh noooo...they didn't. About half an hour of waiting, still looking completely normal, wrapped up warm ready for 'the big bang' firework display, casually checking my phone every now and then. I stood around, chatted to a few people there I knew, some people I didn't know...I'll happily chat with anyone, it can be a great distraction. To them I bet they couldn't tell what was happening inside my mind and the feelings I was experiencing inside my body. To them I probably just looked like any other person there enjoying the event. Taking photos with one of the funniest, nicest guys you'll meet (he is one of the radio presenters who was presenting the night)...talk about little and large!



The inside my body/mind version of the night...
I'd felt so sick for the majority of the day, it was clearly one of those days. I was sat eating my tea getting frustrated with myself because why do I have to feel so sick?! Why can't it just pack its bags and run away into the sunset? It was one of those days that I knew eating wouldn't make this sick feeling go away so why was I even bothering? Feeling sick is my main anxiety physical feeling and it's an absolute pain the bum! It can sometimes feel so strong that I'll eat ginger biscuit after ginger biscuit just to make it disappear, it usually is a pretty quick fix. Mints also help me too, I've learnt from previous experience if I'm actually going to throw up then I can't have any form of food in my mouth, so if I can have a mint in my mouth ok I know I'm not going to throw up. Packet of mints in my car and in my pocket and off we go.

I drove my mum to meet her friends who then drove the rest of the way, they parked in a car park about 10 minutes away to avoid all the traffic but I played it safe like I do for football, I parked in the closest car park. I remember getting out of the car and still feeling really sick and on edge, I walked behind one of the fairground rides to get to the radio station/big screen area and the flashing lights made me feel even worse, I walked as fast as I could to make sure I got away from the lights as fast as I could.

Lights avoided, time to stand around and wait for my mum and her friends. I stood around, looked at my phone, ate some more mints, chatted a little but during all this my insides felt funny. I felt so sick. What if I throw up? What if I shit myself? What if I really need to go to the loo? What if I really need to get home fast? You bet, what if's kicked in!

Despite all the anxiety I made it to the very end of the very beautiful firework display, the Keepmoat you did good!



I'm really hopeful that you've made it to the end of this post because I want to share with you an important message. Just because someone looks ok on the outside doesn't mean they are ok on the inside. It's ok to talk about our feelings.

Photos capture one moment, they don't show you the feelings that the person is experiencing.

Yes, anxiety came along for the ride this night but I did also enjoy myself and the McDonalds afterwards too.

Goodbye Invisalign

It's time to say goodbye to Invisalign on here because the journey is over. Well I'm wearing the Invisalign retainers every night because I certainly do not want to undo all the hard work but that doesn't require an update every so often.

I had my attachments removed almost three weeks ago now and it just feels like yesterday. I slightly miss them but it's such a relief to have them off, to not have to remove my aligners every single time I want to eat or drink.

I'm not going to lie and say that I followed the rules completely because I didn't, every now and then I would drink through a straw instead of removing them. Or I'd have a polo without taking the aligners out (quick call the Invisalign police). I'm now debating whether I should be confessing to that just incase my dentist happens to read this...sorry Ihsan, I'm only human not perfect! :)

Despite not always following the rules I'm beyond impressed and pleased with the results...


In less than a year I've gone from ever so wonky teeth to so much more improved, straighter teeth. I started this treatment with the hopes of just lowering one tooth that was too high but once I'd got the attachments and aligners I soon realized that most of my teeth were wonky. I was just so obsessed with this one tooth.

So I've gone from hating my smile to absolutely loving it! Whenever I'm near a mirror now I end up randomly smiling like some kind of a looney tune (only when I'm alone that is).

Admittedly they aren't what some would class as 'perfect' but what is perfect? Absolutely nothing in life is perfect, everything has it's imperfections and I mean everything. The person you see online (who has the ideal life) will have their own bundle of imperfections/insecurities, I certainly have. Since posting pictures of my new smile I've had nothing but kind, lovely comments but I still pick myself apart. I'm guessing gradually I will become a little bit easier on myself but after years of picking out my little flaws it's going to take some time.

After years of having one tooth that stuck out I was worried that it had become part of me, part of my character, part of my identity and I'd miss it. Boy, was I wrong! I do not miss it at all! Admittedly I keep thinking it sticks out more than the others still but I think that's purely because I've been thinking it for years.


Teeth are weird things to look at on their own so I've decided to change the photo to black and white instead. Black and white effect makes everything look a little nicer right? I've considered whitening them but I'm slightly scared of having them whitened (plus that ruins the enamel on your teeth). I do not want to turn out like Ross Geller!


I mean seriously, look at those results! Invisalign is worth every single penny.

I'm not going to lie and tell you that it's easy peasy, it isn't. It's hard work, you need to have a lot of determination and be motivated (I wasn't always but I'm only human, not a robot). It's ok to slack a little bit sometimes during the treatment process (I'm sure you dentist wont approve of it) but if you do fall back it's ok, don't be so hard on yourself but make sure you get yourself back into things as soon as you can. My mum admitted to me a few months ago that she is surprised I managed to last the whole process. Well mum I did, I knew I was ready, in the right stage of my life, I knew I wanted straight teeth and that was going to take time and effort.

I'm so glad I stuck it out. There would be days where I just really couldn't be bothered with them anymore but to be honest I can feel like that about a lot of things every now and then so I just went with the flow. I knew my fed up days would soon be over and it would be worth it in the end, it really was.


If you haven't followed my Invisalign journey but would like to read all about it I'll leave the links to each post below.

'MY INVISALIGN JOURNEY, THE CONSULTATION...'

'MY INVISALIGN JOURNEY - THE IMPRESSIONS, PHOTOS AND XRAY'

'MY INVISALIGN JOURNEY - IT'S CLINCHECK TIME!'

'MY INVISALIGN JOURNEY - SO IT BECOMES REAL...'

'WHAT I'VE LEARNT SO FAR WITH INVISALIGN...'

'MY INVISALIGN JOURNEY - TIME FOR SOME EXTRA ALIGNERS'

'MY INVISALIGN JOURNEY  - THE GOOD, THE BAD AND THE DOWNRIGHT UGLY...'

'ANXIETY AND INVISALIGN'


I've got to bring this post to an end at some point so I'll end it with a little message for my wonderful dentist, Ihsan at Bawtry Dental Clinic. If you live in the South Yorkshire/Nottinghamshire area and you want a new dentist or are considering Invisalign go visit Ihsan, you won't regret it. I'm struggling to put into words right now (I know, hard to believe?) what I want to say to you that I haven't already said Ihsan so I'll just end this post with a massive thank you, you've been incredible throughout this whole experience! Thank you for being the dentist to believe in me and make this possible. I'll see you in six months! :)

Anxiety lately...

Anxiety, you are weird. Sometimes in a little way, sometimes in a rather large way depending on what kind of day it is? I honestly don't know. Either way you are downright strange. I understand you are there to protect us, to make us aware of danger but sometimes there really is no need for you.

I'm being serious, sometimes you just aren't welcome.

I'm talking about when you are with me during my working day or when you're with me when I'm at home chilling. I'm talking about the other week when I was driving to work, feeling like a failure and I just burst into tears and turned back around. (I did later make it back into work and continued fairly normal). I'm talking about when you feel the need to make me worry about every physical sensation, the digestive system, every normal bodily function isn't a threat. So let's not treat it like one and we will get on just fine.

One minute I think I'm understanding you and the next thing you're making me question if I actually do really know you at all. I thought we was working as a team and were pretty understanding. We were getting along just fine until lately.

You're making me fear things that don't need to be feared, you know going to work isn't exactly scarily dangerous. I work with wonderful people who try their best to understand my mental illness but it's proving a little tricky to explain when I don't even know why you are like it myself some days.

Anxiety, lately you are a mystery.

One day I can manage things fine and then bam, not so fine anymore. A few times recently I've managed to get to work and then bam, something happens/hits me and I'm rushing home as fast as possibly can.

Anxiety, what is your problem?

You're making downtime a struggle, I'm talking about going to football. I've been going for over a year now but every now and then you like to make it difficult, why? I sit there so on edge, so uneasy, running through my mind 'do I really need to go to the loo now?', 'am I going to become ill and not manage to make it home?' 'what if we get stuck in traffic?' 'what if we break down on the way home and it takes someone hours to come and save us?' 'what if I'm ill in that time?' 'what if I throw up here?' 'what if I really need to go to the loo and there is a massive que?' 'what if I become seriously ill here?'.

Anxiety, you really are weird. But you know what, it's ok to feel anxious. It's ok to cry. It's ok to break down. It's ok to not be ok.

Of course, it is also absolutely ok to cry and share your troubles with someone who can't answer you back...


Hope you've all had a good day, if you haven't that's ok. Try again for a better day tomorrow.