Sunday, 8 January 2017

FITNESS GOALS FOR 2017



I am certainly a creature of habit when it comes to giving up fitness-wise. This must be my millionth time attempting what many may call a 'fitness journey', but maybe documenting it on my blog will give me a smidgen of motivation. So here goes....

1

Be able to run 10k. I'm not fab at running but I am getting there at snail pace. I used to run frequently over the summer in 2015 and used an app called 5k runner, which actually helped my fitness improve so much. Me and some friends did a Pretty Muddy Race for Life event which was 5k and smashed it. It's not a race by any means and we know it wasn't the point of it, but we're go hard or go home gals so we really tried our best. We proved to ourselves we could do it.

Following on from that summer, I had a bit of a fitness blunder and more or less stopped altogether due to a number of factors, but excuses aside, here I am again, ready to tackle 5K runner and beyond.

2

Try something new. I tried Pilates once a few years ago and despite enjoying it I never went back. I'd really like to find something that thrills me and something I can't wait to do every week. I think I will add boxing to my list for now, I am yet to research my options.

3

Cycle more. I live in a part of England that is perfect for cycling, which is the Lake District. So I really have no excuse but to get my padded shorts on and spin till my heart is content. I have a bit of a fear of doing any form of exercise outside unless it's the unearthly hours of the morning when no one can see me, so that's another bridge I have to cross. I think I'd get so much more out of cycling if I wasn't so afraid of 'being seen', which is something I'm sure others can relate to. There's not an awful lot of time between the earliest hour I am willing to wake up or the time people start to get out and about so it definitely cuts my rides short.

4

Be able to plank for 2 minutes. 

5

Cook more. I definitely mean from scratch and not throwing things in the microwave (except to make scrambled eggs - who's with me?) I'm definitely what you would call an amateur in the cooking realm so I would really love to spend more time learning about food and nutrition and following recipes.





What are your fitness goals?

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Tuesday, 3 January 2017

NEW YEARS RESOLUTIONS


My big and small goals for this year and beyond. I'm not promising myself that all these goals will be reached in the next year but I can at least make a start.


1. Get fitter and focus more on my mental health and wellbeing. Get a booty, be able to run 10k and give practising mindfulness a go.

2. Work Hard, Play Hard; say yes to more opportunities both within and outside of work and really work hard on my career. But also make an effort to do more in my free time.

3. Learn how to cook properly.

4. Actually catch up with old friends instead of just saying that I will. And do more with my parents and siblings.

5. Open a savings account and start saving, saving, saving.

6. Write way more.

7. Read at least two books per month - maybe even a third if I can. I would like to explore more genres and enjoy non-fiction as well as fiction.



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Friday, 15 January 2016

Chapter Two | My Story

There was a particular month last year where I spent the majority of it hidden in my bedroom. I isolated myself because I didn't think I would be able to tell anyone why I felt how I did, even my family. At what point do you feel so alone that you can't even talk to your family about how you feel, it's agonising. Of course they wouldn't understand, I told myself. 

I wanted so badly to be able to confide in someone that wasn't a GP about all the things running through my mind. But at the same time I dreaded the thought of being asked any questions about it. I don't know why but I hate being asked too many questions about anything, I suppose it's because I'm scared I won't be able to give them an answer and god knows what they'll think of me then. I do have a few people now who are very close to me, who I feel comfortable talking to about things if I feel 'below par' shall I say, but I've never told anyone every detail or thought that I have had or still have. I am still terrified about what people will think of me and that's an entirely different hurdle in itself.

Depression feels like you're trying to wade through a bog, everything feels sluggish, slow, and difficult and happiness is superficial. Anxiety is like the feeling you get when you miss the last step on a staircase and your stomach drops because you think you're about to fall, except it's constant. Nearly one half of people who are diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Whilst they often come hand in hand, they also work against each other. It's like needing to do everything but wanting to do nothing. It's alternating between feeling paralyzed in the present but being terrified about the future.

One of the biggest problems for me is the effect my anxiety has had on my work and education. About a year pre-diagnosis I was still in college studying Music. We did gigs as part of our course, all of which I sung and performed in a band in front of a crowd. Naturally I'd get very nervous but in a more filled-with-adrenaline sort of way. Performing in front of a crowd meant putting myself into the spotlight with all eyes on us, and we loved it. A few months later and post-diagnosis, all eyes on me and I am overwhelmingly anxious and embarrassed. God forbid that my tutor ever asks me to speak or answer a question in class, for example, because the spotlight is no longer on my side. I am now at university, where I have struggled to attend lectures as a result of a crippling fear that I'll be too exposed. University has always been on my agenda and I had planned to make the absolute most of it but I haven't been able to yet and it's incredibly demotivating. I know I'm not alone when I say I have absolutely no idea of what I'd like to do in the future, but it's far more difficult to see without a clear mind. University will always be a top priority of mine and I sincerely hope that I can make it work for myself.

It goes without saying that mental illness is heartbreaking, lonely, and soul destroying and I would be a liar if I were to try and incorporate a sense of joy because if truth be told, there isn't any. I think I can speak on behalf of other sufferers when I say that it is but a painful experience. I want to use my story to help challenge the current affairs and attempt to change attitudes towards mental illness by showing a true picture. Mental illness isn't my definition but it is a part of my life in a big way. Whether it's here to stay I am unsure but in the mean time I am learning more and I am slowly starting to accept that what is, just is.



(Mind have a tonne of brilliant and insightful personal blogs and stories on their website which cover a vast number of different mental illnesses. Join me in learning more and check them out - http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/your-stories/)

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Thursday, 14 January 2016

Chapter One | My Story

Sometimes I struggle to get out of bed in the morning. The thought of answering a phone call gives me an overwhelming feeling of fear. Sometimes I stay in my bedroom with the door closed in an attempt to shield myself from anything that might interrupt my hopelessness. Of course this makes little sense but depression is the biggest rabble-rouser of them all. It's difficult for me to explain to people why talking on the phone or making a trip to the shop gives me heart palpitations or makes me feel dizzy, because I believe that they won't understand or I won't be able to explain why.

I aim to be completely honest and genuine in all of my blog posts so I can try and give a 'real picture' of what it's like to live with a mental illness and the issues I have faced as a result. One of the biggest issues is the social stigma surrounding it, and the discrimination people experience. We may be naive and not understand that this makes the difficulties so much worse, and as a result, makes it significantly harder to recover. I'm not going to sugar coat anything because I believe that everyone should know what the reality of it is.

I was diagnosed with depression and an anxiety disorder early last year and more than anything I couldn't understand why. It's incredibly hard to admit to feeling depressed, especially when there's no way to determine it. Am I depressed enough? Everyone experiences feelings and anxieties that they have to deal with and don't complain about, so what gives me the right to pity myself? I wish I had known the answers to these questions but post-diagnosis, I felt ashamed to admit it.

The truth is I don't feel like myself and I haven't for a very long time. I want to stop feeling that I am weak when admitting that I struggle with my mental health on a daily basis. I've had many conversations with a few people very close to me about how I feel and I find it difficult to explain, because I can't even explain it to myself. The best way I can describe it is with the help of Barbara Kingsolver, an American writer. "Sadness is like a head-cold, with patience, it passes. Depression is like cancer."

Now whilst this comparison doesn't necessarily help anyone, because you can't diagnose depression in the same way you could diagnose cancer, the point is some people get it and some people don't. It just is. You can't medicalise misery, and you may think that nothing could compare to the heartbreak that some families go through when their loved ones suffer from diseases such as cancer, but perhaps we should be aware that some of the most devastating and darkest illnesses often stem from the brain. The phrase "mental illness" itself sounds as if it could be describing something imaginary, when the fact of the matter is, a disease of the brain is as physical as that of another organ. It is the cancer of the soul.

Now for the home truths. Living with depression and anxiety for the past year has affected my life in more ways than I could imagine. For months before my diagnosis I felt like what I can only describe as numb to life. Nothing was enjoyable and nothing could make me smile. I felt like every problem I faced had no answer and I struggled to see into the future. But most of all I had completely lost who I was. I didn't know why I felt this way, nor did I like it one bit. I was trying so hard to breathe but the metaphorical tar that was smothering my face didn't allow me to. I was surrounded by people but I felt so desperately alone.



Struggle number 2. Social anxiety. There has been many situations over the years where I've been shopping or been in a crowded place and I've suddenly been overcome with an intense dizziness where I can barely see and I've had to sit down. Shaking like a frightened rabbit, I'd eat something sweet and eventually it would pass. Never have I understood why this happened, but it was something that always happened so I never questioned it. Until it started to happen more frequently and randomly. I could be sat in my room alone and suddenly feel an overwhelming sense of fear and nervousness which I couldn't explain. Or be sat in a lecture hall and start sweating uncontrollably and in constant fear that I'll go bright red in the face if someone talks to me and I'll completely embarrass myself. I also hate queuing in a shop, as I believe that everyone is staring at me as I approach the till, and I'll spend my entire time in the queue going over what I'm going to say to the cashier in my head. And then think about it obsessively afterwards.

After visiting my GP and doing many questionnaires with a local helpline and a psychiatrist, I was given a diagnosis and was referred to the local hospital to start Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). However I must mention that this entire process took a good 5 months. Five more long and difficult months, although I felt pleased that I had been given something to work with. At least there was a reason behind my feelings, I told myself. But there wasn't really a reason at all. I couldn't think of a reason why I felt so depressed or anxious and I think the hardest thing of all was having to accept that it was just the way I was.

I didn't feel normal and I felt ashamed to say out loud to myself that I had a mental illness. The only thing I felt I could do was try and understand what it all meant. When I eventually started my CBT sessions I got a better understanding of what depression was, and what social anxiety was all about. I must admit though, none of it seemed to make me feel better. I never completed my course of CBT because the rogue D and A words managed to convince me that it was pointless. I often feel that things I do are completely pointless and I couldn't tell you how many things I have convinced myself out of doing. Sometimes everyday things are such a tremendous effort, simple things such as having a shower or making a hot drink. I was quite an ambitious person and would make lists of everything that I would like to do within the next few years, such as go travelling or learn how to cook, or learn a new language. Get a first class degree, get my summer body..... Oh absolutely not. How did I lose the desire to partake in life?

Until my diagnosis, I didn't really understand mental health. I have come to realise now that it was around me all this time but I wasn't aware of it. Call me ignorant or naive but it's never been something that I've known a lot about at all. So when my own thoughts and perceptions of things started to change I would never have guessed that it could be mental health related, the thought didn't even cross my mind. All I can say is that I wish I knew more about it sooner and I do my best to learn about it every day. More than anything I would love for people to do the same, and I believe that it's very important for people to do so.
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Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Georgie Treks Kilimanjaro for Mind | Introduction

So after much consideration and throwing the idea about in my head for god knows how many months, I have signed up to trek Africa's highest mountain and one of the worlds iconic peaks - Kilimanjaro.



Eight days straight of gruelling 5-7 hour walks (with a sly 12-15 hour walk thrown in there somewhere), doesn't necessarily tickle my pickle or take my fancy I must say. How could I possibly manage that, one would ask. Trekking Kilimanjaro has been right at the top of my 'to do' list for quite a while but I will admit, I was very hesitant to sign up altogether because of how big a mental and physical challenge it would be and I really convinced myself I wouldn't be able to do it. Until I thought to myself, that's exactly why I should do it.

I am doing the challenge in aid of Mind, which is a mental health charity. Mind's aim is to not "give up until everyone experiencing a mental health problem gets support and respect". So in turn I want to do my bit and not 'give up' on this challenge in an attempt to raise as much awareness as I can for a charity and a cause that is close to my heart.

I'm not one to speak openly about my personal details to people who aren't very close to me, in fact it's actually something I hate doing. I get nervous and I'm almost always certain that the person listening is either judging me or isn't interested. Of course this isn't the case at all, but that seems to be my immediate thoughts when I attempt to discuss mental health, especially my own. I have a Social Anxiety Disorder, which to those who may not know, is a "persistent and and overwhelming fear of social situations". So to me, 12 days of being in close company with a large group of people whom I won't have met prior to the challenge.... Terrifying, potentially more so than the trek itself. It's difficult for me to explain to people why talking on the phone or making a trip to the shop gives me heart palpitations or makes me feel dizzy, because I believe that they won't understand or 'accept' it. One of the biggest issues regarding Mental Health is the social stigma surrounding it, and the discrimination people experience. We may be naive and not understand that this makes the difficulties so much worse, and as a result, makes it much harder to recover.

1 in 4 people will experience a mental health problem at some point in their life. And nearly 9 out of 10 people with mental health problems say that discrimination and stigma have a negative effect on their lives.

I will be going out of my comfort zone on this trek to hopefully inspire people to do the same. I am taking this as an opportunity to speak more openly about the struggles I have faced personally and I am hoping that I can encourage or perhaps inspire people to open up about their own experiences with mental health. I also hope that it may show people that the stereotypical views that society (in general) has associated with mental health are far from reality. I aim to use this blog to show my training and fundraising progress prior to the challenge, and as a way of talking more openly about my own experiences and mental health as a whole. This obviously goes without saying, but clearly I am not a doctor or a professional when it comes to mental health and some of the information I put into my blog posts may be information from books or the internet but I will give links when necessary.

Whilst this is a brief introduction I will be posting in much more detail as frequently as I can. I've done a few blog posts in the past but I'm relatively new to this so please bare with whilst I get the hang of it!


Visit my Just Giving page here!



Georgie X





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