Mental Health Real Life Stuff

Dear Me

We all have bad patches and they aren’t necessarily anything to be worried about, but when you are in the midst of them, they are all you can see, feel and believe.

Cartoon version of me with short red hair looks depressed.

Since coming off my anti depressants I have started to scrutinize every low mood, every bad day and every tear. Is this a relapse? Am I destined to once again being medicated? Or is this simply what life feels like when it is experienced raw, glaring and without a buffer?

Generally speaking I find it quite hard to write about things while I’m going through them. It’s only as I come out through the other side of it all, and I can see the situation from another perspective, that I feel I can go back and write it all down. I think that’s partly why I’ve been so quiet on the blog of late. I don’t want to tempt fate when things are going well, but then when the doubt creeps in, everything becomes too real, the water gets murky and I can’t bring myself to put pen too paper for totally different reasons.

But now I think I need to, because maybe that will bring me the clarity I’m hoping for. I appear to slipped backwards into old habits, becoming my own worst critic and seeing myself through whatever the opposite of rose tinted glasses might be. Crap tinted glasses? Disgust tinted glasses? Shame tinted glasses? Whatever the lens prescription, I have noticed myself doing it and I’m currently trying to prize them away before they become permanently fused to my head and require medical intervention to get them back off.

I don’t really get why I’m like this with myself when I’m so different with other people. I encourage and support other people and yet discourage and rebuke myself and then devalue my efforts. I know we all go through stuff, we all struggle.  So, once again comes the need to remove myself from the situation and view it from afar, as an impartial third party. When I consciously try I’ve learned to do it quite well.

Cartoon me with the word This is my life now.

For me one of the easiest ways to forgive my own shortcomings it’s try and imagine I’m talking to someone else, to afford myself the patience and compassion that I would extend to any other person.

And so, during this moment of clarity I have decided to write myself a letter and to read and reflect upon this when the self-loathing rears its head. When I can’t bear to be around myself anymore.

Cartoon me sitting at a desk with a quill writing a letter.

Dear Me,

I want to remind you that you are beautiful. You have a kind heart and although you struggle to believe it at times, you’re doing fine.

You matter and you have the right to exist and the right to be happy.

You try so hard to be a good person, you do your best to help other people when they need you and you try to write about the Demons in your head that would have you believe that you aren’t enough in order to help other people understand and fight the demons of their own. But the thing is, you are enough. It’s ok not to be ok. It’s ok to feel less than happy, it doesn’t mean you’re failing or relapsing it just means you’re human.

It’s ok to want Solitude from time to time, it doesn’t mean you’re turning into a hermit. Give yourself permission to say no thank you to say I need some me time.

Well done for stepping out of your comfort zone and daring to go to Liverpool by yourself and to stay in a hotel away from home on your own. That was a big deal for you and you should be proud of your achievement. Now you know you can do it give yourself permission to say no thank you if you don’t want to do it again. But you never know, the next time maybe easier and you might enjoy a little bit more. Either option is fine.

It’s ok that you didn’t feel a late at the moment you got home. Doesn’t mean you aren’t grateful for all deserving of the experience. Emotions take time to process and understand, and each day that passes give you a better view of the events that transpired and that elation and pride is starting to seep in.

Well done Claire, you did great.

Blips will happen and when they do don’t panic. Wait it out. Read this letter. You’ve come so far and you have a bright future ahead of you if you just believe nothing is permanent and everything is possible.

Trust in yourself because you’ve come this far, you can carry on and you can do great things.

Keep on keeping on the Claire, I’m proud of you, I believe in you and I love you.

– Me

Cartoon me smiling and the words Love Ya



Forward Thinking Real Life Stuff

Dream a Little Dream

Things are set to get a little odd around here as I try to find new ways to heal from my previous mental state and try move forward in a happier frame of mind so bear with me.

I am a great believer in dreams holding the answers to a lot of our every day problems and so I’m going to make a point of trying to remember mine each night and see if they are trying to tell me anything.  I think we take on so much in life, and take in so much information each day that it’s hard to process and our dreams are definitely an outlet for our tired minds.  Things we can’t make sense of by day can be worked out while we sleep and when we wake up, things don’t feel so bad again.

Last night I was talking in my sleep.  I didn’t know this until JJ told me this morning I’d bellowed the words FUCK OFF at him in the early hours.  I do remember I’d had some dreams about certain things from my past that trouble me, guilt I feel that I just couldn’t let go of, friendships that had gone by the wayside, missed oportunities to do the right thing, nothing incredibly serious and yet, it was serious to me.

I think last night I let it all go.  I think I was shouting at my subconcious, and at all the ghosts from my past that it was time for them to leave me alone and let me move forward.

I will try each day to do the right thing, try to help where I can, try not to upset anyone, and try to love the world and myself a little more than I have in the past.  That’s really all I can do.

It’s time to let go.

It’s time to move forward.

Forward Thinking Mental Health Real Life Stuff

Another Day In Paradise

It’s a beautiful day and something in my soul that has been dormant for far too long is waking up.  The magic of the mundane is begining to glisten like the sunlight on morning dew and I am feeling renewed. For too long I have been sleepwalking through each day, ignoring the ordinary beauty and the wonder that makes up the patchwork quilt we call life. I don’t know if I became depressed because I stopped noticing the beauty, or if I stopped noticing the beauty because I became depressed, but somewhere along the road, I put my head down and  my blinkers on and just kept looking forward trying to find my way out of the fog. But today, I felt as if the fog was lifting.  I could see colour again, and feel, really feel…joy once more.

Never the sort of person that can just enjoy the moment for what it is, I started reflecting on this and why I was again able to tap into my happiness and what feels like a soul level. What was it?  Well, I think the catalyst that started this all off is I started to care about myself again.  My lovely friend Nicola started selling Bodyshop Products and I wanted to support her in her venture so I started buying bits here and there.  And because I’d bought them, it seemed logical that I should use them. And each time I used them, I was subconciously affirming to myself I mattered, I was important, I deserved love. So it took it a step further and intentionally directed loving thoughts towards myself when using my Bodyshop products and wonderful things followed.

As I started feeling better about myself I started taking better care of myself too.  I started eating better, cut out the junk food (not deliberately, I just stopped desiring it) and I’ve rediscovered my love for aromatherapy and all things hippy-dippy.  I’ve started wearing funky eyeshadow again and feeling like I like the person I am.  I’m reading books and going for walks and enjoying the colourful world that envelops me.

For the first time in a long time I feel as if I am recovering from this depression as opposed to just adapting to it and it feels wonderful. For the first time in a long time I feel like I could possibly get better, and thrive, not just survive. I feel like I could have a life filled with confident happiness, not fear. With our without the tablets (we’ll see) I feel like I have a chance of a great future and it all started with a bit of pampering and TLC.

Love yourself, because when you do, amazing things can happen.



Mental Health Real Life Stuff


I hadn’t planned on writing about Mental Illness again for a while but I’ve been having a bad couple of weeks and it got me thinking…what if I’ll never be rid of this?

People live with conditions that can’t be cured, only managed, all the time.  What if this is one of those?

What if this is just how I am, forever?

The tablets, that seemed to be a miracle cure, have stopped being quite as effective as they were.  Is this just a bad patch?  Am I going to be able to climb back up again?  Or actually, is this just a normal thing that happens to everyone? I get confused as to what I should be feeling while I’m taking my medication.  Should I be feeling happy, elated, sad or desolate?

Should I be feeling anything at all?

I look around at everyone else and wonder if they struggle as I do.  If this is normal? If I am normal?

I feel things too deeply, I think too much, I go over and over it all in my head until I’ve forgotten what exactly it was I was worrying about in the first place.

I want to stop taking the tablets, I know that isn’t going to happen.  I’m not well and this is a real condition, it’s not in my head (except it is) and I need medicine to help me control my intensely low mood.  But, even with it, the self-doubt creeps in.

I’m not good enough, I don’t do enough, I can’t cope with enough, I am not enough.

And it feels so ridiculous that I would feel this way because my life is wonderful.  I am happy, I have a wonderful husband, a beautiful dog and wonderful family and friends.  I enjoy my job (save for the moments when I lose faith in myself and start to believe I’m no good at it).  I have no justification to feel the way I do and that’s how I know it’s an illness, because if I was well, I wouldn’t feel this way.

Life is a tightrope between tears and laughter and it’s hard to stay balanced.  Ultimately, this is me and that isn’t going to change any time soon but I’ll keep treading the rope and moving forward.

I know I’m not the only person to feel this way.  I know there are so many of us out there.  Perhaps this IS normal. Just needed to get that out there. Keep on keeping on guys, we got this!

Mental Health Real Life Stuff

When You Assume You Make An Ass out of You, Not Me!

I’m in two minds about what to write here today so I’m going to go with both because both points are important and both points are valid.

So, where to begin?  Well, I was recently (and not for the first time) in the rather undesirable position of being asked by a well-intentioned stranger when my baby was due. Great, thanks for asking, except I’m not pregnant, nor have I ever been. God It upset me. I was inconsolable.  At the time I awkwardly laughed it off with a brave face and a throwaway comment about just being fat, but when he had gone I sat and I cried.

I went home and I cried some more. Then I had a couple of glasses of wine and I cried into them until it was time for bed at which point I cried myself to sleep.  I woke the next morning and cried some more, until finally at around 10 am I snapped out it and started to realise his words didn’t matter.

Until I had processed everything and cried it out of my system, nothing anyone could say was going to make me feel any better.  I felt ashamed, ugly, worthless, unattractive and grotesque. Not that I think pregnant ladies are any of those things but their bellies are swollen with human life, as opposed to burgers and trapped wind.

I decided I needed to write it all down but I wasn’t sure if I should write about the power of your words and how you should be thoughtful and kind when choosing them, or, if I should write about the fact that we are the ones who give power to other people’s words by choosing to let them hurt us.  Well, after some thought I’ve gone with both, and here’s why.

They are both true.

You, as a human being have a moral responsibility to not be an arse. By all means be assertive, insist on being treated fairly and demand good service, but don’t be an arse!  Saying hurtful things out of spite is not big and it’s not clever and your words can do real damage, so cut it out, immediately.  That’s not the issue here though.

Thoughtlessness can be more damaging than horridness.  In my case, a person asking me if I was up the duff, with child, had a bun in the oven, was having a baby, was hurtful on many levels. It made me feel like I must look bloated and fat for somebody to assume this when the only bun in my oven are the Belgian, and from Gregg’s.

If you are commenting on somebody’s appearance keep it polite.

“You look nice” – Safe

“You look pretty” – Safe

“I like your hair” – safe.

“Are you storing small human in your distended abdomen?” – RISKY!

If somebody is pregnant and they want you to know, they will probably tell you. So, unless a woman is holding a picture of an ultrasound whilst pointing at her belly and saying the words “I am pregnant”, don’t ask her because, odds are it’s only a matter of time until you’re wrong and you get a slap.

On the other side of this though, is the thinking that I could have chosen to just say, no, this is just me and I’m me shaped. I am no different to how I was in the seconds before this inaccurate assumption was made. I was happy and confident(ish) and generally feeling good about myself. Why should this person’s opinion affect or alter anything? I’m exactly the same person. Literally NOTHING has changed!

So, I can either cry into my wine or I can hold my head high and say, actually, I’m awesome.  Quite frankly, life is too short for watered down wine.


40by40 Mental Health Real Life Stuff

Look Who’s Back…

You may or may not have noticed I’ve been somewhat quiet on the blogging front of late.  I very deliberately took a bit of a break from it all as I was putting too much pressure on myself.

Now I’m at a point I feel ready to get back on the proverbial horse and carry on with my journey.

So, what’s been happening with me in the two months since I last checked in?  Well, I wrote a book (actually I wrote it about 14 years ago but who is counting) and then I got it published via Amazon as an e-book, with a paperback version to follow shortly.

I became an auntie!  My brother and sister-in-law have a beautiful baby girl who is the motivation I needed to get my book published and I cannot tell you how happy I feel to be Auntie Claire.

I’m still taking Sertraline and for the majority of the time it seems to be helping immensley.

I’m gradually ticking off my 40 by 40 which is both surprising and impressive.  Those who know me know how flightly and whimsical I tend to be.

I’ve been asked, and have agreed, to take part in a video about mental health and the stigma around it. Watch this space for that one. I’ll put up a link as soon as it’s finished.

That’s about it for now but I’m happy to say I have the urge to put pen to paper again and I promise I’ll make sure I write more often.

Claire xx

Real Life Stuff

Now, Not Later

When someone dies, there is always the inevitiable outpouring of grief and wonderful things are said about the person who has passed away.  This is beautiful and heartfelt and painful and cathartic but also, I think, a missed opportuntiy to say these things to a person while they are still alive to hear them. What if instead of waiting we tell our loved ones and friends now, exactly how we feel and how they are special while they are still alive to hear it.

I get that not everyone is comfortable with praise, some of us aren’t, but maybe it’s simply because it isn’t the social norm and they aren’t used to hearing it.

Maybe all we need is a little bit more practice?

Wouldn’t it be better to celebrate our loved ones while we have them, to let them know how much they mean to us and what a difference they make to the world around them. Show them how their smile lights up a room. The time for beautiful tributes is now, not later, because the sadest thing in the world is to lose someone and wonder if they really knew how incredible they were and how much they were loved.

It can be as simple as “I love you” or as in depth as you care to go.  List all the wonderful atributes they have.  Let them know they are appreciated and that they matter and make a huge difference to your life and the world around them.

So I invite you all to take a moment to send a message to a friend, or tell them face to face all the wonderful ways they are loved in this moment. Perhaps a friend you’ve not connected with for a long time or maybe someone  you see every day.

None of us know how long we have on this merry-go-round that we call life, but it would be a much better and more joyous experience if we learned to express our feelings to those that matter while they are still here to receive them.

Real Life Stuff


My lungs feel as if they are full of sand and my heart is heavy today but I’ve come outside regardless. I’ve come to spend some time in nature, alone with my thoughts, a note book and a pen because life is fleeting and tomorrow is never promised.

A few days ago a lady lost her life.  She passed away, totally unexpectedly, in a car accident. She was young with her entire future ahead of her and in an instant that future was taken away without warning.  Her light went out and now we are left in a world that will shine a little less brightly without her warm smile and kind heart. I didn’t know her well, we weren’t close, but I did consider her a friend.  She was one of those people you just loved. Her heart was huge, her personality serene.

We met when I was learning British Sign Language at college.  The tutor had recommended we attend the local Deaf Club to practice our conversational skills.  Suzanne didn’t know me but made me feel so welcome. From that moment on we would always say hello and I’d struggle to come up with something interesting to sign with my limited sign vocabulary. We’d muddle through and have conversations.  A few weeks ago she told me about a holiday she was planning.

Now she’ll never get to go. It’s so hard to make sense of this tragedy.

The frailty of life is astounding, the non-permancence of it is something we should not take lightly.

I’m going to try to procrastinate less, and to make more plans with the people I love even when anxiety makes it difficult. Even when I’m frightened of the what ifs and the maybes because I’m more scared of not really living than I am of dying.

I’m going to live my best life in the memory of my friend, a lady who touched so many lives and so many hearts and always lived her life to the fullest.

Rest in peace Suzanne, I’ll never forget you.

Mental Health Real Life Stuff

My Husband, My Hero

Loving someone with depression and anxiety can be as hard as having it yourself. Having been in both positions, sometimes simultaneously, I feel quite qualified to make that statement. To see somebody you love so much going through something you know to be so awful makes you feel helpless, frustrated and sad.

On the surface, my husband is the happiest, bubbliest and most joyful person you could meet. He is the life and soul of the party, the one others go to in order to be uplifted. He is amazing. His constant desire to help others and bring them happiness is nothing but inspiring and he does it out of a genuine love and want to make the world a better place for the people in it and he wouldn’t change a thing. Helping others smile is what motivates him and always has been.

He is my hero.

But he is human too and underneath the surface he is as sensitive and fragile as the next person. Some days he struggles to wear a smile and some days he doesn’t manage at all. When you give so much of yourself to other people it’s easy to forget to hold something back for yourself. It’s easy to become overwhelmed.

His depression isn’t the same as mine. He deals with it differently and while I make no claim to be an expert on the subject, I feel this is true of everyone. No two people experience mental illness in the same way. Just because we may have been through similar experiences, it doesn’t mean we know how another person with the same diagnosis is feeling and it’s important to realise that what works for one person may be completely useless and irrelevant to another. What triggers my anxiety alleviates my husbands. When I’m not feeling good I’d rather stay in and cuddle up with a cup of tea and a trashy American cop show. When JJ feels anxious he’d much rather get out into the world and do something, when he’s feeling depressed he just wants to sleep. I’m sure for other people the triggers are different as are the coping methods, we’re all unique. It’s not caused by weakness any more than somebody getting the flu. It is something we can get better from but it’s not a quick fix. It’s not something to be ashamed of it is something to be learned about and understood.

But what is true, and what we can assume is this…the best thing we can do for a loved one who is depressed is to be there for them, to make sure they know how much they are loved when they are feeling unlovable. To make sure they know how much they are valued when they are feeling worthless. To let them know you are there when they are feeling alone. To offer them your patience when they don’t know how to express themselves. To offer them a friendly ear without the pressure of having to talk if they don’t want to. To just be there for them with the reassurance you aren’t going away and encourage them to get the help they need, whatever that may be.

I love you JJ, you inspire me every day.
Keep being you.