21 things I have learnt from being in a long distance gay relationship.

  1. C05A4280-EF3B-4E14-A932-DE227CF6A8F5At the beginning no one expects it to last, especially as most guys I have dated wouldn’t even get the bus for me let alone fly 6000 miles. But only the two of you can make it work and know how you feel.
  2. We literally have no role models for our relationship so everything we do has to come from what we think is best.  Very few of our friends are in gay relationships, come from different cultural backgrounds and are doing long distance so this is a strong learning curve.
  3. Social media is both a blessing and a curse. It allows us to see our spouse is happy and well but also it highlights to us the distance and makes being apart even harder for us.
  4. Celebratins days can be amazing when together such as birthdays. Usually neither of us would have been too concerned about valentine’s day but it is 100 times harder when the option to celebrate it is taken away from you.
  5. The majority of the time we love experiencing each other cultures but  on occasion their may be clashes. It’s important to be open minded to change and tolerant and get used to leaving your comfort zone. I’m struggling to get used to the idea of having a TV in every room in the house or calling a duvet a comforter. Also the American and British sense of humour is different that’s for sure.
  6. Visas are a pain in the ass. There is so many different requirements. It’s a misconception that getting married suddenly grants you citizenship. Also we had no idea how expensive it would be.
  7. How did you two meet? It wasn’t online!!! Ok so that’s not a totally an unfair assumption as I used to be notorious for using tinder.  This is why this relationship is so special to me, the only person I’ve ever met and had an instant connection with and have settled down with (I never thought I would)
  8. Time zones are a pain in the ass “hey what time is it?  …. it’s 5am … oh sorry… so what’s you up to?” Work clashes and being out and about can make it hard but we try and call everyday.
  9. When we do meet each other’s friends and families it’s a plunge into the deep end, therr is no time for gradually introducing each other so we best get ourselves prepared. One of our friends gave us a clone a willy for while we are apart, fantastic idea which we stupidly didn’t get round to but there is always time.
  10. Airports are the best and worst places in the world. We finally see each other again but also have the most horrible goodbyes.
  11. Not Everyone will respect your relationship. I’ll keep it to that, I’m not spilling to much T on this blog.
  12. It has made us both so much more grown up we have to plan everything. We no longer can think I’ll be doing this in two years it now we.
  13. This experience has made me the most and least lonely I have ever been. I finally feel wanted and I belong yet a lot of the time we are apart.
  14. We have had some fantastic holidays abroad and trips now in the UK. Being from different backgrounds encourages us to travel more.
  15. One of the reasons we work together so well is I over think and he calms me down and brings me back to reality. I give him a bit of a nudge to get off his bum and do things. We have this sorted!!
  16. Thank goodness we both want to live in UK otherwise that would be chaos. However I would move to US for him (there I said it he can’t use it as leverage in an argument saying he moved here for me… well actually he probably could say that so it’s a relief we don’t really argue).
  17. Even from 6000 miles apart we can wind each other up but also interrogate each other on what we are up to.
  18. A lot of relationships wouldn’t survive this distance, we don’t have any real secrets to our success we just desperately want it to work and do everything we can for each other. So here we are and here we will stay.
  19. As I said earlier we don’t have anyone directly to compare ourselves to but even if we did…don’t!! This is easier said then done in this day age with social media but it isn’t healthy for the two of you. We have our strengths we are happy, they have their strengths they are happy. Let them live.
  20. Finally have no regrets and really try for every opportunity, it’s easy to get old and one day think I wish we had tried that it done that. We both took a risk getting together as the odds weren’t no in our favour and we both knew we had so much work to do to secure our future. But we have never been happier and I wouldn’t change him or my life for the world 🌎.
  21. This is the first time I’ve ever felt attractive. I was so quiet in school and had a lot of surgery for cleft lip and palate growing up. But someone’s genuine love for you can change your life. (Trying not to break the record on inserting as many cliches into a post as possible… but they are kinda true.. sometimes!).
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Mental Health- Awareness or true understanding?

We have gone from never talking about mental health in society to it being discussed every week on the news and on social media This shift has made a massive impact on public awareness. In show business they say that all publicity is good publicity, sadly I don’t agree that this applies to mental health. It is very different being aware or having some preconception of it to truly understanding what it is and how it affects people. This is sure to frustrate people but I am not aiming to answer all the questions surrounding it but to encourage people to think and form their opinions. I want to talk about some positive and negative portrayals of mental health in the media as well as everyday life.

Firstly I would like to state that I am not an expert, but in my opinion everyone has new things to learn about it. I also want to say that I can only speak for me but I hope what I say can resonate with lots of people. Some of the articles do make insightful points. I recently read one on the guardian which resonated with me. The article suggested that we should ask what has happened to people rather than what is wrong with you. I also really liked that this article wasn’t a page full of statistics and attempted to remind the reader that patients are all humans not conditions. Many people who struggle with their mental health problems have been through times of trauma and distress which unsurprisingly can have long-term impacts on their mental state. However many of these people are judged on their behavior or thoughts and their past experiences are almost viewed as irrelevant. This means they are let down multiple times and this can reinforce ideas of hopelessness. I know that in the majority of cases people think they are doing the right thing for those struggling and when you have been well yourself it is very difficult to fully understand the effects it can really have on you. Firstly all previous ability to think clearly and logically can be lost and many things in their life no longer make sense. I don’t want to criticize those that work in mental health as it is a real challenge and most people who are unwell would say themselves they are not easy to support.

I’m sure well all know someone who is often talking about their daily struggles in person or on social media. At times this can appear trivial,  and at times it can be difficult to assess how much genuine they are. I would always hesitate to judge someone else mental state as we can never know how they perceive everything. I am aware however that this is another are where awareness can cause problems, if people believe it’s only people believe only a dramatic few are effected that can lead to people not taking it seriously. Whether that person you know is genuine or not it’s important to remember that they are only one individual and everyone experiences mental illness differently.

Tragically in Florida this year there was a school shooting. There have been suggestions that the person who committed the crime had mental health issues, and had approached the state on several occasions asking for help. I will never condone his actions regardless of his health, however if it is true that he was unwell and his pleas were ignored this would be an example of when people are understood or taken seriously. Many people of color have been outraged at mental health being brought into this case and I can’t say I blame them. They know that if the person had been of color there is a high chance they would have been shot and any discussion of mental health would have been shut down. The tragic truth is that mental health issues are universal across races and ethnicity yet in many cases it is only Caucasian people who have access to treatment or at least confirmation that they are unwell. Apart from race this case in a way has raised mental health awareness but at the same time could contribute to stigmatization. It is either creating a link between mental health and violence which increases the general public’s fear of those who are unwell. It could also lead people to feel that it is a valid excuse for committing horrific crimes. Now we can’t sugar coat this, some people with mental health issues can be dangerous and horrible people but this is a minority. People who are well can also be very dangerous and do horrible things so it is important that people do not make these links to increase stigmatization.

I am grateful that we can have these discussions around mental health as in the past this would not be possible. I would encourage people to form their own opinions  and try and look at it from different perspectives. It is important to be careful of media sources but to continue to have these conversations and educate each other as this can really make a difference to everyone.

P.S I hope this post won’t offend anyone, and I myself am attempting to continue learning.

 

 

Don’t dream it, be it!

img_20161116_040401Hey Guys I realised it’s been like two years since I last blogged time has literally flown! Looking back on my previous posts they were not the most uplifting and that was the most challenging period of my life I have ever faced. Taking an overdose, slashing my arms and barely sleeping all while attempting to ‘study’ for me degree. I know that sounded as blase and casual as trying on a new shirt but it almost feels as if that wasn’t me or a different version of me. I don’t even remember that period of time very well it’s only from the odd photo and coming across all the cards and gifts I received every so often that it really brings it home it did really happen. It’s hard to really for me to really see how I became so low, I may not be here without the support of my friends and family.   I’m not sure if this separation is useful or not, on one hand it stops me from ever feeling that hopeless but i’m not sure if that means  I have entirely dealt with that period of time or moved on. I going to assume the latter, it must sound contradictory even mentioning it but I think it’s so important to see how you develop and show others particularly with cleft lip and palate or mental health issues that there is always a way out.

Honestly at the time my degree was the last thing on my mind which sadly stopped me from getting the best result I could but will not stop me in the work place! I do however feel that my university could have done more to support me, i’m sure they do get a lot of students come to them saying they are struggling, some really really are. For some people a chat and a sit down is enough but for others that isn’t going to cut it. I went several times to speak to staff members which I initiated including the counselling services, they told me they were more used to dealing with exam stress and that sort of problem. While this is very important you might have hoped studying psychology with many experts in the field they could maybe provided more help. I wasn’t expecting them to bump up my grades or magically make me feel better but some real suggestions would have been better.  I’ve seen on the news mental health in students has been recognised as poor, the pressure placed upon students along with the competition and fear of not being good enough is so difficult to handle. We are told it’s 9 grand a year and we need a 2:1 minimum to secure a decent job. I considered deferring myself as an option but I reasoned I would never return. I managed to finish with a 2:2 which is not a bad result at all but I know if I had been in better shape mentally I would have got a 2:1 as I had no ability to concentrate, wasn’t eating well, sleeping well and I had no motivation. Again  Now I don’t want to completely slate my university as I most likely did not communicate this well enough to them or take enough proactive action so it is not entirely their fault, however when you are very unwell the last thing you make unwise decisions and are often unable to act in your best interests.

I should have been more focused at university as there were some staff at my school who attempted to get me to change what A levels I was taking as they believed I wouldn’t be able to pass them and they wanted me to take applied science or business which I would have hated as I just not that interested in them. They also felt that I would not get into university, there was even a suggestion that if I put my cleft lip and palate down as a disability that might enhance my chances of getting in. Whether that counts as a disability is debatable I guess it does affect my speech but it didn’t feel like that they had high expectations of me regardless. but I made it so I guess the lesson there is if you really want something you better werk 😉 as no one is going to do it for you. I also don’t want to criticise my school I had no self confidence, and I have always only been averagely academic to get good grades I have always had to work hard. The second part I see no problem in but when you have no confidence it makes it very difficult to help yourself and for others to help you. This is something to this day I am working on.

I attended an outpatient mental health unit in north wales, I spent most of the time on the waiting list to see the psychiatrist with the list being incredibly long. I had left Wales by the time I had even got close to seeing anyone. I was really lucky and had a really strong support network, but it makes you wonder how those less fortunate have coped. There will have been other people far more ill than me or without family and friends to help them through. It remains so disappointing the lack of funds the government put into mental health especially as so so many of us experience it. It is a hidden illness and remains a taboo, you can recover from depression just like the flu however there is often that doubt in your mind and others minds that it may come back. For some people it will sadly be lifelong but it can be managed and does not mean these individuals will not be successful, you never know one of your most looked up to colleagues may struggle with mental health but are still at the top of their field.

But!! All is not lost. For me have recovered mostly… I won’t lie and say I am in perfect mental health now I still have very low days where I struggle to motivate myself but I have this sense that I will never get that low again, I can’t let myself ever get that low again. I think it’s good to reflect sometimes how far we have come. I feel particularly at our age we are so focused on stepping stones, beginning with GCSE grades escalating to work and further study. We are always all looking to the next step but it’s important to realise how far we have come, and to enjoy the experience. We can be so self critical, I have found that a lot myself recently as I am currently struggling on what career path to follow, comparing yourself to everyone else isn’t the answer. It doesn’t matter if Sandra has a house, PHD, five pets and is engaged. She deserves a massive congratulation but you should be focused on your own goal and pushing yourself to be the best you can be. However bad things seem there is always hope, there was a time I thought I would not be able to hold down a job, or move out and I’m in my second job since graduating and have moved out so it is very possible. I won’t pretend to anyone it’s easy, but I would encourage everyone to give it there all as you don’t have anything to lose.

Since graduating I have worked in two jobs so far. My first as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities. I learnt far more here than I ever did at university from both the staff and patients. There were good and bad days just like any other job especially at the beginning as some of the customers liked to break you in at first, however in general you could really see how much they valued your support and company there and staff could really improve their lives. I learnt so much from the staff having never worked in care so I will always be grateful to them. I had no confidence in myself at the beginning and remember throwing up one day before work as I was so nervous, but with perseverance I left with so much more than when I began.

I am currently working on a psychiatric assessment ward which I have found a massive challenge. The patients have such varying needs but all have one thing in common, they are all very vulnerable. They have come from all over the world in some cases and had very colourful lives in some cases with some of the best and worst experiences you could imagine. I really enjoy working on the ward, and it has made me realise over and over how lucky I have been in some ways. Some patients may be homeless or be estranged from all family members yet still they go on and with the help of treatment they can rebuild their lives and continue on. Drawing from my own experiences I do really care about attempting to help them to put things back together as I know just how devastating it can be when you are not well, you become a shadow of yourself. I need to try and be more confident and proactive at work. The team have been so so supportive despite me being socially awkward. That’s something I have always struggled with. Some of you will know me as lively and life and soul of the party, whereas others as the awkward one in the corner you almost forget is there. I wish I could be equally social with everyone but it doesn’t always come naturally as hard as I try. It’s particularly difficult when people have heard about me or seen pictures of me online and assume that I am always really fun, I wish this was always the case, it almost seems as though I am attempting at times to live up to other peoples prior perception of me which just isn’t right! Not that this happens often but I do often hear oh you’re quiet today or I’ve heard you like to party hard. I am honestly pretty boring a lot of the time.

The team at work however have really really tried, probably feels like pulling blood out of a stone but I will get there at some point , the sooner the better honestly.  My original plan was to work as  a HCA and then train to become a mental health nurse, but unfortunately I have come to realise that this is not what I want to do. I am struggling with night shifts, it has affected my sleep and my mood stability at times which is a massive shame as many aspects of the job I love. I would love to stay in mental health but work days hours, I know I would never slip as far back as I have been but I don’t want to become unwell again.  I know I will eventually find my path even though it may not be a smooth journey and many of the people I have met this year will have had a lasting impact on my life Community nursing however appears to be a really interesting option. Part of the reason for writing this at this ungodly hour is after 3 hours I can’t sleep anymore and I am dragging myself out of a low spell. I really really hate offloading to people and being overbearing so it becomes a bit of a viscous circle at times but as I get older I am learning.

Some of the key things I have learnt are!!!

  • Always keep your friends and family close and it is best to remain as honest and open as you can be.
  • It’s OK if you haven’t found your perfect job yet, I haven’t yet either!
  • We are still young, live life to the full and don’t let work take over.
  • You can learn so much from the most surprising sources and people.
  • Grades are not everything or qualifications.
  • Don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something, ever!
  • Mental health will always be a ongoing issue but doesn’t have to govern your hole life.
  • If you need help ask, don’t worry if you think its attention seeking just do it.
  • Lastly be proactive, I used to wait and desperately hope things would happen for me, very occasionally they will but you need to do a lot of things for yourself.

I hope this post wasn’t too annoying, I also really hope it didn’t sound falsely positive like one of those awful fridge magnets. I guess the point of this post was to show you can pick yourself up again and to never under estimate what you can achieve.

Misconceptions on mental health (My take on it…!)

Well I’ve realised I haven’t inflicted you guys with a new post in over a year now… although I did write a few drafts over the months  as a release none of it was publish worthy… kinda hoping this will better.

Firstly a disclaimer… I am not an expert I am basing my views on experiences I have had myself, my job as a support worker for adults with learning disabilities and my degree in clinical and health psychology. For those of you who know I don’t have the widest general knowledge, I’m not the most academic person and often not the most serious person you have met but mental health has always been so important to me as its been an on off struggle for me for most of my life. I also want to stress this is often based around me and every single person is different so I’m not trying to talk for everyone on their own behalf.

I think there is a lot of misunderstanding surrounding those in poor mental health, even for those who have studied it at length it’s not as clear cut as the textbooks would imply.  I have deliberately avoided using terminology such as names of disorders as again I’m not an expert and these do vary greatly. I’m also not convinced giving someone a label is beneficial to them and I want this post to be accessible to everyone.

Misconceptions

  1. Control- There can a complete lack of control in yourself

There is a view by some people that they should have control over there actions, in some cases this may be the case but I know I was unreachable. Looking back on my third year at university I was a different person. Some of the things I did now I can’t even understand myself. One of the things I did was to take a pack of antidepressants all in one go two days before my exam just to see what would happen. I knew it wouldn’t kill me and I didn’t tell anyone about this until months later. I spent nearly 36 hours just lying in bed watching american horror story only getting up to attempt to bring up food until the affects past. I then went to my exam still far from with it and unsurprisingly I didn’t do well. I also began slashing my arms, the more blood the more I felt I had achieved something. All sense of logical that is drummed into you as a child had left me. I had reached such a point of desperation I had no idea what to do with myself, I didn’t quite want to die but wasn’t enjoying living which left me trapped in an unpleasant middle ground, I believe this is what led me to making such dreadful mistakes.

Now the reason I say all this is partially because I think a lot of people are very unaware of this as I don’t tend to talk about it and I don’t think to a lot of people I come across as ‘mentally ill’.  If you had told me a few years back I would be doing things like that I wouldn’t have believed you. And if you had told me someone else was I might have said well that’s not going to help anyone… technically this is true but that view is far to black and white. For me it took away my control and independence to act on my own and make decisions let alone the right ones.It would take me half an hour to leave the house and going to the supermarket felt like climbing Snowdon, It made me absolutely exhausted.  I think this can be really hard to get your head around, I guess in some ways it could have similarities to being drugged you don’t really know what your doing or what coming next and you have lost a sense of control. You are still in there somewhere but it feels as if you have been pushed and tested to your absolute limit and you never believe its going to get better.

2. “Looking/ acting Mentally Ill”

For a lot of people there is a perception that you should either be crying or screaming. There is a chance that this is going to occur at some point but again far from often in some cases. Some people can be especially good at hiding their emotions and might look completely fine while in their head they are in turmoil. It’s so important that everyone is taken as seriously regardless of how they come across. In some very tragic cases the last time people have seen loved ones before they have committed suicide they have seemed in good health and are happy. More often than not we have no idea what is going on in other peoples heads.

3. Wanting to get better

For some people they can appear reluctant to follow treatment or to seek help which can be interpreted as them not wanting to get better. For me I never believed I would and wasn’t convinced that the help offered

 

I’ve got 99 problems and a cleft Ain’t one!

Ok here it goes take two, are ya ready? 😀

Well I think if is everyone is completely honest no one wants it  (a cleft I even used to find it hard to admit to myself the word so called it an ‘it’) clearly, some people like to stand out a little from the crowd. Like dye there hair bright red, stretch there ears beyond any recognisable form. I was a little guilty of this having a bad hair phase of the ‘afro’ this was what defined me for ages. I liked it cause I thought it distracted attention from my face but I have now realised I look way better without it! Most guys get this embarassing phase out the way when there 14 but I was a late bloomer.

But when it comes to facial symmetry that is the classic ideal and clefts don’t always fit in with that. Although in general most people will tell you that you are exactly the same as everyone else a part of you highly doubts there sincerity.Your left wondering there intentions, do they mean it? are they just trying to be nice? Or could it be that they are right, big shock!  It’s only recently I started to believe that! My favourite comment used to be “I love your eyes”. Now I was thinking maybe I have been endowed with fantastic eyes… or on a negative slant maybe that’s the only nice thing they could find to say. You see how easy it is to twist a completely normal nice compliment? I’m sure it’s not just me that does this, taking compliments is a skill that no one teaches you to learn!

There were two ways I could see to respond to having a cleft!  You could let it become the centre of your world and consume you! Hint Hint this is the wrong answer. You might think it is a little hypocritical me writing about this.. well yeah I guess it is, but it’s only now I’m realising how much it had dominated my life so I’m now able to reflect. Even when it is not in my conscious thoughts it was lurking in the back of my mind waiting to make an appearance. Honestly it’s taken me a very long time to come to the right decision and try my best to make the best of all my opportunities, but I guess the main thing is I got there in the end and I have never looked back!

So why did it take me so long? Firstly my face has changed more than most due to all the surgeries I have undergone so the changes took a while to get used to and I definitely stood out from the crowd.It’s not quite as fun as fancy dress parties where you get to change your hole look for a night and not worry how horrific you look.. or well at least too much until the photos surface the next day! Faces are a bit more permanent, can’t just switch it up when you get bored but we do have some of our major features adjusted! This would have been ok if I had the confidence to rock it, but I was more the lets fade into the background and hope i’m not noticed too much kind of guy back then. I wasn’t happy with my face or confident in myself but rather than confront it I just retreated further into myself. This obviously wasn’t the best way to deal with things but I wasn’t ready yet. And school is tough anyway right? Who wants all those spots and those first disastrous attempts at shaving when it looks like you have been attacked! Plus my school was especially large, 300 in my year alone! And i’m sure you all remember school as a bit of a fish tank, everything got down the grape vine in seconds!

One comment has always stuck with me of one school kid saying it looked like my face had been bashed in with a spade. I wasn’t sure how to take this as I had been in a bit of a bubble before but that was now burst. This at the time had a major knock on my confidence, I doubt that guy had any idea of what impact he had on me. Now I don’t mind, kids are kids and say stuff but at the time it was majorly unpleasant! I  said erm and shuffled off, luckily i’m not an angry person as my combat ability is severely lacking. So I went home and tried to put it to the back of my mind.

However I don’t want to make it sound like everyone was horrible to me at school cause that wasn’t the case! There were some fantastic personalities there, I just wasn’t quite ready to join the mix so hung back! That one guy that made the comment is the sort of person you vaguely recognise and pops up a lot but don’t have a name for, actually these people were the ones who made me the most nervous! The people that actually knew me were always kind especially considering how painfully socially awkward I was!

I also was not very fond of the sound of my own voice, I used to cringe after hearing myself. However the older I have got, I have realised again I share this in common with most people, even some of the worlds best singers don’t like to hear themselves so this makes me feel better!  After years of speech therapy I was able to pronounce most words apart from ‘S’, to this day still remains a struggle. Words like sit come out more like shit, although this can sometimes be funny it’s also very awkward at times so I tend to avoid saying it. It’s only one out of thousands of words, and you know what it’s always a conversation starter to avoid those awkward silences when meeting new people! That above all has been the hardest thing to accept, my face can be moulded into shape but my voice is what it is and I accept it now but that’s taken an awful long time.

Thankfully they have done a great job, I will always be indebted to the medical team at Addenbrookes! I can finally feel like everyone else a bit more now. Now finally to the point of this blog post, as long as it’s taken me to get here is to talk about mental health. I spoke more about the physical experiences and surgeries on the last post but on this post go into the psychological effects of it all as growing up is a challenge in itself so this makes it harder! Mental health means an awful lot to me as mine in particular has been very shaky. This has led me to… well hopefully soon to complete clinical and health psychology degree!

I have come to realise that the biggest problem in my life is inside my head! It sounds so simple but it’s one of the most important life lessons I have learnt that sometimes you are wrong and sometimes you are right! One false move does not mean every consecutive thing you do is wrong. And the world does not revolve around you, you can’t be the fault of everything. And people are people so just because they don’t scream hello at you if you enter the room or charge across the road to say hi doesn’t mean they don’t like you we just all have our own lives to lead!  In this sense I now feel a bit self centred,  I now try to live on Earth.. not Snares’s head! But at least I now see it. Maybe I can help guide others one day so they have less of a rough journey,  although in some ways it has been beneficial as I have come out of this a better person. Got to look on the positives they are always there somewhere 🙂

Now down to the nitty gritty (pre cursor this bit is a little intense, but don’t worry I have come through it 🙂 ). This may or may not surprise some of you as i’m aware I have a rep of always smiling and being cheerful.  To some extent I am and now in the present day thankfully its fully genuine again! I always thought that I was depressed at school.. to some extent this is probably true but I had no idea what low mood really meant until it hit me hard at uni. I had always read about it in the textbook but it failed to impact on me heavily and I never understood quite how much it could change the way you thought and feel about everything to the extent where the person you once were seems to vanish and your left wandering trying to reclaim yourself.

Last year in October I did something very stupid and drastic but at the time it made perfect sense, so I had to go to hospital again as a consequence. Subsequently I had to go to home and left 4 weeks early before Christmas to have a break from uni and see a psychiatrist as the mental health service team in Wales were not very quick at getting me through the system. I honestly had never felt that low in hospital so this was a shock to the system. No one quite knew what to say to me and I had no idea what to say either!

I was at the point where even leaving the house to go to the shop took all my energy. If I received a text message it would take about five attempts to understand what it meant and replying was a real struggle often finding that my replies made no sense. I would walk down the street and realise my eyes were streaming and everything appeared to go in slow motion. My memory and concentration was at an all time low and I could not seen myself ever feeling better.

I did go back to uni after xmas but it was a real struggle and I wasn’t sure I could carry on. A local mental health unit finally got in touch and I started on a course of anti depressants and weekly sessions. As yet I have no diagnosis, I’m not even 100% sure if I am ill. It’s the uncertainty which can be most scary for those going through poor health.

For the the first two weeks the medication really helped. I realised then there is a big difference between living and being alive. Unfortunately the medication began to wore off and slashed both of my arms on a few occasions resulting in infection. The TCP made a revival, I couldn’t quite believe I had done this when I was younger I always thought it was strange behaviour and could see no point. But the thing I have learnt most about mental health is… all those rational thoughts and feelings you have. If you imagine getting lost on a path in the woods, the further you stray the harder it is to return and you can get deeper and deeper off course. But once you find that path you never let your feet leave it ever again. So I now fully understand why people do irrational things it makes perfect sense to them when they have no hope and when thinking clearly is so hard.

I went to pick up a new prescription of anti depressants but decided to finish it in one go… on mothers day. Why I did this I will never know, in my head it almost was like an experiment to see what would happen, I knew it wouldn’t kill me but I wasn’t so bothered if that was the case. I spent the next 48 hours in bed wide awake feeling very high, I could barely see and felt dizzy if my head left the pillow. I could just about walk and as time wore on the effects wore off, this was lucky as I had a late take exam just after this for gambling! This was three hours, I hadn’t managed to revise and felt really ill in the exam but I finished it so I can say that much. 

Now to try and claw this back before it gets majorly intense I am making a really good recovery. I’m not wanting to worry people or looking for sympathy as honestly i’ve come through now, i’m far more interested in helping others pull through like me. Life is so tough when you are that low it can go so horribly wrong so if this at least shows one person that there is a way out then for me mission accomplished. Obliviously this is only a blog post and won’t transform lives or anything but maybe just maybe could be a much needed booster!

Thankfully my family and especially some of my friends have brought me out of this slowly and I can honestly say I have got my energy back. I have plans to work as an adult support worker for adults with intellectual disabilities  after uni, I aim to move to London if I can ever afford it get used to the lifestyle but I have always loved it there! I hope London is ready for me, maybe it would be safer for everyone if I went round with a label saying tourist on my head so they knew to dumb everything down for me. Even using the underground I have managed to get lost and set off alarms on ticket machines when I got my suitcase stuck!

So as Tindi (awesome girl on my course) said “It’s never that serious” I think that is the best thing I have ever heard! The problems with my mental health probably stemmed from my cleft but I don’t think it’s the sole cause. For others it could be height or weight we are in many cases our own worst enemies and the quicker we realise that the better! And you just have to remember having a cleft does not define you and there are another 7 billion people in the world, you can’t be the worst person in the world right? I know it’s not as easy as that and inevitably all of us have ups and downs but that’s just the way it is. I don’t have any magical advise, I’m no professional and I am not clever enough for that. All I can say is surround yourself with good people and ride out the storm, see it as life experience, it will get better one day!

Growing up with Cleft lip and Cleft Palate

Hey guys so I thought I would give this blogging thing a try. This is my first ever post so it might not be great but I’m gonna give it my absolute all! I am kinda hoping this might be a bit of a release for me as I barely have addressed how I have felt with many people. Also I am fortunate to have very supportive friends and family but I know there are others out there who are really struggling with growing up like this!

Ok firstly I think I should tell you what it actually is as there is a lot of confusion especially as the terms are always changing and there are degrees of severity. Firstly it is a facial defect which is apparent from birth and can be detected during scans. So basically my top lip did not form properly so there was a split in the middle. This also occurred in my palate. I will always remember having to take TCP in through my mouth and make it go through the the hole in my palate and down through my nostrils. If you imagine being back in the swimming pool at primary school and flipping over and over you can imagine the sensation, safe to say that is something I don’t miss having to do daily, but it was vital for stopping infection!

Honestly I have no idea how many surgeries I have had, but maybe like 12? It’s not really that important as long as it’s over! Some people with clefts may have more or less it all depends on the individual. So what have I had done? Well there first job was to try and put my lip together, unfortunately this had to be done a few times as I grew and it got tight but that can’t be helped. They also I think did my nostril a bit but my memory is hazy as was quite young, it’s kind of a blur now. What I do remember is these giant scissors they used for cutting the stitches on my face, unfortunately I wasn’t able to look away so I was terrified of even using scissors in early primary school! I also remember being scared of needles after one nurse failed to put on the ‘magic cream’ basically pain relief before the cannula and that was very painful, to this day needles make me uncomfortable but i’m way better with them now!

I am fairly sure it was around year four they sorted out my lip and nose.. However this surgery did leave me particularly swollen with two very prominent scars running from my nose to my mouth. I did attempt to go to school but was in an awful lot of pain especially when it came time to open my packed lunch, major disappointment when you can’t have your cheese sandwiches! However while I was recovering at home the class all made me a separate handmade card with a get well message, I will never forget that and still have them tucked away in my house. I read through them last year and it always makes me smile.

The next big step was to finally sort out my palate… yay finally good riddance to that horrible TCP. This however was the biggest surgery I had faced and was rather daunting. They had to take out some of my hip bone to fill the palate in my mouth. I remember coming round with a big brown mask on my face but I could feel dried blood caked on it. I was also paranoid I couldn’t breathe. After heavy persuasion I was aloud to have a look in the mirror.. not sure if this was beneficial or not haha but at 11 I didn’t think it all through so clearly. I remember being wheeled out into the garden and passing out in the chair although I did really enjoy the fresh air. It got very claustrophobic on the wards and there was constant noises which made sleeping and relaxing a real challenge. I’m fairly sure I passed out in the toilets too but this might be on another occasion. I had a massive plaster on my hip but if I moved quickly the cut would re-open so that took ages until it finally healed although it is still prominent now!

Thankfully I had a bit of a break until early secondary school. This began with my 8 year stint!! yes 8 hole years it’s usually a maximum of three but my teeth were so unhelpfully placed that it took an awful long time. The braces were very painful at first as some of my teeth had an awful lot of travelling to do, far more than they ever expected.

Year 9 came and I had some the first two teeth taken out, these were impacted in my gum, they were too lazy to come through so were chilling up there. This was the first two of thirteen which eventually be taken out, unsurprisingly I was now a few down on the top row with some massive gaps.

Later that year I was offered jaw surgery as they were not properly aligned, but by this stage I was terrified by even the word hospital and felt I had already been forced to have way to much treatment. At this age I didn’t understand just how vital it is to have the treatment to give me the best chance to fit in with society. Luckily my jaws were less significantly an issue than many others so it could have been worse.

Fast forward a few years and me and my braces are about to depart early on at uni. This was milestone for me as it felt like they were never ever going to come off but I couldn’t wait to say goodbye to them. The next big milestone was getting some false teeth. I had always wanted a full normal set of teeth like everyone else so that was one of the best days of my life. Before that they resembled a rather drunken walk home where some hadn’t quite made it and had passed out or stayed in various areas of my mouth but finally they would be orderly like everyone else.

This bring me to now, I currently have no more cleft surgery planned but I have the option of thinning out my nose and adjusting my lips. Currently I am decided and will see what the future brings but luckily I am able to handle the hospital a bit better now.

For my next blog I am going to talk about the affects of cleft lip and palate on my mental health and how I feel it is sometimes percieved, I hope if you got to the end it wasn’t too painful 🙂