Tag Archives: Health

My Experience of Anti-Depressants: One Year On (Part One)

horizons.png

Next month (June) will mark one year since I started on my anti-depressants and because one of the focuses of my blog is mental health, I wanted to discuss briefly on how I got to that point and in my post that will follow this, I’ll talk about how I have been feeling during this period while on them. I just want to put it out there; this is in no way a sympathy post, I personally think it’s important to talk about different ways we cope with certain situations in our lives and this is one of the ways I have been able to cope, and if we can encourage others to talk to professionals about how they are feeling, then the world will be a better place. 

(Just as a disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, I’m in no position to give out medical advice; this post is simply talking about my experience going to the GP and making the decision that was best for me at this period in my life.) 

I’m not sure about you but anti-depressants in my opinion, have never had the greatest reputation and I don’t really know why. I’ve heard them described as “numbing” and “short-term gain” which is two things they can do perfectly but for me, they have been so much more than that. I was recently listening to Dr. Phil’s podcast “Phil In The Blanks” and he was talking to one of my favourite people Dax Shepard. They were discussing going to the doctors and Dr. Phil said that quite a lot of general practitioners are very quick to subscribe pills and let the patient go. I’ve heard this a few times from different people, both in real life and on line, saying that when they were going to the doctors, they would listen to them for two minutes and put them on anti-depressants. Knowing that this was the experience for a few people I had heard, I was already preparing myself not to be listened to and being given pills.  

20180908_115156.jpg

Looking back, I couldn’t have been happier with my experience. I went and spoke to my regular doctor. I went over what had been doing as briefly as I could within a doctor’s allotted time slot and what was interesting with this visit was that they asked could one of the student doctors ask me questions to get a background on me before going into the appointment, and I was fine with that. It was a nice experience because it was an additional ten minutes, I wouldn’t have gotten otherwise so she had asked me why I was there today and why I thought I had been feeling this way. She asked me about past experiences so I was very open with what had been happening with me over the last few years; I also talked about going to CBT and I said that it had been amazing but there was still something just not right. I had been able to change most of my thinking patterns but my body wasn’t responding to those patterns sometimes. Once that was finished, I spoke to my regular doctor after the student doctor had told him what we had discussed and I already felt at ease about the experience. I was no longer worried that they were going to throw pills at me and be on my way. One of the main points he had asked me about my tiredness and I was completely straight with him, I told him that I can’t remember the last time I WASN’T tired and that’s completely true. Give me five hours, eight hours or twelve hours of sleep, I will still be tired. He was concerned about that considering I was still in my mid-twenties so when he asked me about my diet, I told him I was vegan and that’s when he suggested going on iron tablets and in my head, I rolled my eyes. It’s that classic vegan line, “Oh maybe you’re not getting enough iron” but I went with it because as much as I rolled my eyes, I probably wasn’t getting enough iron to be absolutely fair to him. He was very clear though; we’ll try the iron tablets for a few weeks and see if everything else lifts; and if it doesn’t, then we’ll look at something else. 

I left that day knowing that iron tablets weren’t going to be the cure all. Simply because I have been tired since I was around fourteen; and at fourteen I was eating meat, getting enough sleep and being a typical teenager so using the reasoning of my vegan diet, I just knew it was something more. However, I’m a woman of my word so I took my iron tablets, went back a few weeks later to get a few blood tests, and booked another appointment to see a doctor for another few weeks down the line while I was there. 

20190512_204258.jpg

This time around, I didn’t have my regular doctor which was fine, because you have to wait a few weeks for an appointment so at this point, I just wanted to speak to someone! My notes from the previous session had been on the system (albeit very brief) and I talked about being there last time and how I had felt so I had been put on iron tablets but I didn’t feel any better, I actually felt worse. She had checked my results and my iron had shot up dramatically which I was shocked at because many people think that if your iron levels are normal, you aren’t as tired (I’m living proof that this is not the case). We determined that this was something else and I spoke about how I had been feeling, and ironically during this visit, I had been told I was being made redundant just a few days before so understandably, I was still very emotional and I’m sure that’s one of the main reasons I was feeling worse (though not the only reason). I know all about self-care and looking after yourself so I stressed that I socialised, I looked after my body with the food it needed and the exercise it craved. There’s this huge perception online that you can cure “sadness” (or whatever you choose to call it) with good food and exercise, and while that may be true for some, it’s not always the case for everyone else. I sat in tears because I was tired; I had spent the first part of the year feeling completely miserable (and the first three months crying almost every day at little things). I should have gone to the doctor earlier, I know that now but I thought the sadness was go away at some point. We talked about the options and I had mentioned that I was currently going through CBT and while it was working great with some areas of my life, my head wasn’t able to catch up. She asked me how I felt about anti-depressants, and I raised my concerns. I told her that I was worried about being on them forever because I didn’t want to dependant on a tablet forever and change my hormones; it’s actually a huge reason I have never been on birth control, because I wanted to be in control of my body. I was desperate, I sat there in tears and told her that I thought I was depressed and I had thought it for a while but I never wanted to admit it. I had only ever mentioned the emotion “depressed” very few times in that time period because I didn’t think I had the right to be depressed. I had been in pain for a while but because I thought it was “just go away”, I waited and waited and it only got worse. She confirmed that this was more than being “sad” and that it was much deeper; she said the anti-depressants would be my best option for now and down the road we would review it.  

20180522_205058-01.jpeg

After hearing the horror stories of others saying that GP’s just want to hand out pills and be done with it; based on my experience this was not what happened with me. I felt listened to, I felt like both my GP’s had compassion and it wasn’t being dismissed. While I didn’t feel like the iron tablets would do anything at the first appointment, I know now they just wanted to check that was okay first before moving onto to something else. No GP has ever sat me down and told me I have depression so for that reason, I don’t feel like I can say I have depression but I describe them as depressive episodes. Do GP’s explicitly say “I’m diagnosing you with depression” I don’t know so that’s why I don’t like saying I have depression because it’s never been confirmed to me, but I know it’s more than a sad phase. 

As I mentioned at the beginning, there will be Part Two to this post (because I didn’t think that this would end up this long) and I’ll be discussing how I have felt over the last year being on anti-depressants and why my perceptions have changed completely on them.  

Thank you so much for reading today’s post; I know it’s quite a personal post but I thought it was important to talk openly (or as openly as I felt comfortable with) about what has been going on with my mental health. It can only take one conversation to help and while I’m not the most open person on the planet, I still think it’s important to talk to someone you trust AND a professional. Have a great day! ☀️

Advertisements

Entrepreneurs and Mental Health: Michaela Pontiki

I’m back this week with another interview facilitated by FPComms with the wonderful Michaela Pontiki as part of my Entrepreneurs and Mental Health series. If you missed my interview last week with Latoya Lovell, I’ll link it right here. 

Michaela-Pontiki-Founder-of-Healthy-Lifestyle-Bakery-Arapina
(Photo Credit: Mi Business Mag)

First of all, for those who don’t know, can you tell me who you are and a little about your background in your career so far? 

I am Michaela Pontiki, the founder of Arapina bakery. I am an architect with a Masters in sustainable design and having worked in both industries, I decided to start my own business in the food & beverage sector.

Can you tell me the philosophy behind “Arapina“? 

We are an award winning Healthy Lifestyle Bakery, based on Mediterranean cooking, offering free from and low in options to a sophisticated clientele. We are here to offer food to those who suffer from various intolerances and or have physical or mental diseases. We believe that food can be your medicine.

There is so much information out there, especially online, about food. Do you think that there is too much information that people are overwhelmed when it comes to making the right food choices, especially if they are being told conflicting information? 

Definitely, companies are fighting for their own reputation and companies get it wrong a lot of the times, especially in today’s world when masses can be easily influenced by TV commercials and social medias platforms. And they get it wrong because they either don’t have the right information themselves or purposefully manipulating concepts for the sake of their personal profit. Either way is unacceptable and one should cross referenced sources of information that is readily available out there.

We talk a lot about super foods but unfortunately, we know that if people are overwhelmed, the benefits of certain foods may not be important because they may not know what information to trust. So, I want to know two of your favourite meals that not only have the nutritional benefits that your mind and body love but are a joy for you to make too? 

I don’t have much time in my hands so I need to be creative and seek easiness with my meals. So quick breakfast is natural greek yogurt, with organic blueberries, raw almonds, honey and cinnamon. Second best is almost any type of grilled fish with a vegetable ratatouille next to it.

Why should entrepreneurs be thinking more about the food they eat? I know that I’m guilty of saying “Oh I don’t have time to eat, I’m too busy” and I’m not even an entrepreneur. Talk to us about the remarkable impact food can have on our minds as well as our bodies. 

Imagine you own a fast car, but every time you try to speed up, the car does not accelerate to the level you want it to simply because the fuel you are putting to it is of poor quality. It is exactly the same with ones body. You want to “run”, physically and mentally but you probably can’t simply because you have not taken care your body and mind. One cannot fulfil their full potential with an underperforming fuel which in this case is food.

What do you think of the “busy” excuse? Is there such a thing? By saying this, are we not making ourselves a priority? 

It is a fact that we live in a society that keeps us busy and activated, so in a way yes, we are busy, but I would say that it is more of a matter of priorities, and that applies on many aspects of our lives. When we fail to call our friends, spend time with our family or not properly plan our meals, it simply means that this task is not high up on our priority list, because I am sure the same person would find the time to watch the new series on Netflix if this is what he/she would value more. So it is a matter of changing your mentality to change your priorities to help your body.

I can only imagine the pressure that you are under having your own business, do you think that that is something quite a lot of entrepreneurs struggle with? 

There are different types of businesses, businesses with different demands as well as businesses with different starting points. If we had to generalize business is not easy and yes, the pressures are high when running one.

For you, what is the difference between being stressed while starting your own business and your mental health slipping? 

Stress can be activating or stress can be destabilizing. It really depends on the space you allow stress to occupy in your life, the grade of stress you are suffering from and the way you approach stress itself. Sometimes it is a fine line between stress and mental health slipping.

If someone is finding it hard balancing their mental health while running their own business, what tips would you give them? What do you do when you are in their situation? 

Quit business, life is more important.

Finally, if anyone would like to find out any more information about you and the work you do, where can they go to do so? 

Follow us on our social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook and Instagram) and keep an eye for podcasts and more interviews. If you are lacking this physical contact as most of us are in today’s world, come down to the bakery and ask for Michaela (by appointment only).

Again, a massive thank you to Nicola from FPComms for facilitating this interview and to the wonderful Michaela for taking time out of her day to answer my questions. I also got sent the most gorgeous chocolate covered almonds and bergamot preserve from the Arapina Bakery, so thank you so much for the treats!

 

Let’s Look After And Love Our Gut!

As a blogger who has recently started talking about fitness and in the past, has spoken about a few health problems I have due to intolerances, I thought today’s post would be fit perfectly alongside those.

Love-your-gut-logo02-992x561

Love Your Gut Week 2017 is being celebrated from Monday 4th September until Sunday 10th September and it’s raising awareness for your gut health, which according to a recent Love Your Gut Survey, 81% of us aren’t sure about the health signs that are gut could be telling us. As shocking as this figure is, it doesn’t surprise me because even I don’t know what’s going on with my tummy most of the time.

I’m no expert so I’m not going to sit here and tell you all the signs you should look out for when it comes to your gut, because the only person who should be telling you that is a qualified doctor. Love Your Gut Week comes with one of the best informative websites I’ve seen. In my job outside the blog, we get sent quite a number of press releases around awareness weeks and for research, I would use the websites mentioned in these press releases to a lot to draw up questions, so to say I’m impressed, would be an understatement. They have everything from frequently asked questions, free advice packs, how to raise awareness and even advice on how to talk to your own doctor about the issues you might be having.

LYGW

To start, here’s five of the most surprising facts that I found out about our gut health (from the Love Your Gut Week website):

1) There are more than twenty five different conditions related to the digestive system.
2) Men don’t produce smellier farts than women.
3) The gut has its own brain that contains five hundred million nerve cells.
4) Using plant based or lactose free milks can be easier to digest than lactose milks and more tolerate by sensitive guts.
5) If you need to fart, don’t hold it in!

pexels-photo-96974(Original Source Image)

My body has been talking to me for quite a few years (hear me out!); from little gurgles throughout the day, stomach cramps after certain foods, questionable bowel movements and further problems when it comes to periods. Now I’m not going to sit here and tell you about my bowel movements but it does bring me to a very important topic: being comfortable talking about the unsocial norms.

We have to admit that our bodily functions are something that isn’t talked about enough but quite frankly, should be. If something isn’t right and yes, we’re going to talk about poop because it’s a good example; if your poop doesn’t look healthy or it has a clear sign that something is wrong, there is definitely a conversation that needs to be had. Now, I’m not suggesting that you go and tell your next door neighbour or your local lollipop man, but go to someone you trust that will take you seriously and possibly offer you advice. Your body doesn’t lie, it shows you what is wrong but it won’t tell you. That’s perhaps the most frustrating problem with our bodies is that, yes they’ve given you this sign but what on earth does it mean? Not going to get help about a problem can only delay the issue and unfortunately some leave it too late. “I wish I’d went to see about it sooner” or “We caught it quickly because I went to see someone about it” You’ve probably heard quotes like these before and obviously sometimes there are cases where you can go to the doctor and they can’t diagnosis your problem for weeks, months or even years. It’s difficult one to balance especially when some people don’t feel comfortable or even trust their doctors (I may or may not be one of these people, sorry!) but we need to speak out. This is our body, we need to be happy and healthy in it, and we need to speak out when something is wrong. If you’re dismissed, go to another doctor or another professional; it’s your body and you have to live it so don’t let anyone tell you “Oh you’ll be fine, I’m sure it’s nothing”.

WIYGTY

Thank you for reading today’s post! I know it’s not your normal post that you’d see from me but I think it’s such an important issue to address so if you’d like any more information on the awareness week, please visit www.loveyourgutweek.com ❤ 
Have a lovely week! 

Training for a 5K Race: Race Day!

Race Day had arrived; it was the day I had been training for for the last number of weeks. I can’t believe I’ve only been training for just over a month! I’ve went from just under 45 minutes to under 35 minutes in just a month, which I’m so happy with.

43ab902ebf

Having done the Park Run the day before (and set a new personal best), I knew from the get-go that I wasn’t going to match that time but if I got under 35 minutes, I would be happy. I was quite nervous, I’m not really sure why; I think it was because this was my target that I was aiming for and it was finally here.

Scott was running the 5K with me but there was the option of the 10K and the kids fun run too. We stood in the wrong line but we must have looked out of place so thankfully someone pointed out the right starting line about thirty seconds before we were due to start.

The race began slowly but surely; where the start line had started, it was leading to a bridge so it wasn’t very wide and we both knew we were going to lose some time here. The first minute or two was definitely not at the speed I’m used to, it was slower but with the way the course was laid out, there was really nothing we could do.

20170820_095633(I have no photographs from the race itself because it wasn’t the type of run to stop and take photographs but this was just before the race started.)

For the first three quarters of the race, I would say I was doing well. I had developed a sore tummy and my head started to pound but I was getting through it. If you read my post about running with negative mental health, then how I felt in that run was very similar on how I felt this day. My self-critical thoughts came thick and fast and unlike the day before, I wasn’t able to tell myself “I could do it”, it was like I was talking to a brick wall. I started to hate the running, I hated everyone around me, I wanted to quit, I started to panic and eventually I ended up having a panic attack weasing away not being able to breath. I was so embarrassed! I didn’t stop though so I was overwhelmed, running with a negative mindset, finding it hard to breath and struggling to find the energy to run at all. I cried and I must have looked like I really hated running but there was so much more going on in my head than I could have explained.

Scott every time has been really supportive when I have periods like this, running or not, he’s there just willing to listen. He did offer me some more positive re-enforcement than usual even though he knows I’m not a huge fan of it, but we were so close to finishing that I think he felt like I needed to hear it.

IMG-20170820-WA0004(This is me fresh faced just before starting the race!)

One of the big cons of the race was something that I didn’t notice until after but Scott noticed at just the right point. I seen him looking at his phone quite a lot towards the end and I thought he was constantly checking our time, but I didn’t ask about it because quite frankly, I was mentally drained and I didn’t care about my time. I just wanted the race to be over at this point. We get past a certain point and he said “I think this route is longer than 5K” so we do a sprint to the big “finish” sign and I stop my watch immediately. That’s when I noticed a difference. We all know (if you’ve read previous posts) that my FitBit plays up when it comes to the GPS aspect. So for the 5K in the Park Run, it comes up for me as 3.05 miles but my watch this time came up as 3.16miles so it was more than 5K. Because of this, my time was different and it came up as 35:28 meaning I didn’t hit my under 35 minutes aim. However, because Scott had been watching his distance and time, he stopped it at the exact 5K mark and our time according to his more trusting app was 34:25 meaning I came under my target!

20170824_211024(My timing and wrong distance according to my watch alongside my new medal!)

This sounds like there were more cons than pros in this race and I would say it was pretty evenly matched. I was disappointed in the distance especially for those going for personal bests and timings specifically but the atmosphere was really lovely with so many people there to cheer us on at the start and the end. The starting at the bridge slowed us down like I said but the views going through Victoria Park were gorgeous especially since I haven’t been there before.

IMG_20170820_192743_994
(Scott and I with our medals!)

My next and final post in this “Training for a 5K Race” series will conclude with my overall thoughts on my performance, my results over the last few weeks and what’s next as well as a few more thoughts on the race day too.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post and if you want to catch up on the previous posts of the series, they are all be linked below:
Training for a 5K Race: An Introduction and My First Run.
Training for a 5K Race: Running and Negative Mental Health.
Training for a 5K Race: The Lone Run. 
Training for a 5K Race: My First (Unofficial) Park Run
Training for a 5K Race: Last Minute Training!

Training for a 5K Race: Last Minute Training!

Saturday morning arrived, the day before the race so as some last minute training, I knew I was going to do the Park Run again. Scott was competing in his own race that morning so I went on my own instead.  I signed up to the correct Park Run this time (As I mentioned before,  I had done a previous Park Run so I convinced myself I was going to go to that one again, even though it’s about an hour and a half walk away) so I was able to get a time on the website this time. When you’re standing around on your own, you do wish you had someone with you but that doesn’t last too long before you head over to the start line.

(It was a sunnier day than last week but I put my hoody in my bag just in case.)

The first lap I really surprised myself at how I felt my pacing was; I was a comfortable tired but not too tired that I didn’t feel like I could go on. The only killer in both laps was the last hill of each, I struggled mentally with those and took a five second walk before starting back again but it wasn’t as hard as the previous week had been.

One change I made in this run was inward thinking. I have spoke to myself (inside my head) many times using positive mantras and encouragement but the times it didn’t work, I don’t think my head was in the right mindset. This run however, was very different for some reason. I lost count how many times I told myself “You can do this” and it worked. I can’t explain the feeling I had when I told myself that but normally “the other side” would say “No you can’t” but I didn’t have that on this occasion. The only thing were it was tough, like I explained in the last paragraph, was the last hill on each lap. I’m really happy I’m starting to break down that negative running barrier.

When it came to the finish, I was at the point where I couldn’t push myself to go faster for the last few metres, so it’s safe to say, I was very tired but I knew it was a good tired. I had only looked at my watch one time during the run and it was coming up close to the start of the second lap so I had an indication of a rough time.

I had not expected another personal best! Of course, instantly I knew I wasn’t going to pull this off in the race the next day but I didn’t care. I was so happy that I had a personal best under 34 minutes! My aim overall was under 35 minutes so this was like the little cherry on top! (If you’re wondering why my distance is wrong, read my last post about my first unofficial Park Run and it’s explained there!)

Thank you so much for reading today’s post and if you want to catch up on the previous posts of the series, they are all be linked below:
Training for a 5K Race: An Introduction and My First Run.
Training for a 5K Race: Running and Negative Mental Health.
Training for a 5K Race: The Lone Run. 
Training for a 5K Race: My First (Unofficial) Park Run

Training for a 5K Race: My First (Unofficial) Park Run.

So Saturday marked my first unofficial Park Run of 2017, and I say unofficial because I forgot to print out my little scanner code so I won’t get a time on the website but I don’t mind because both Scott and I recorded it individually; I recorded it on my FitBit Blaze and he recorded his on the Nike Running App.

IMG-20170812-WA0001-01(The starting line for the Park Run and of course, full photo credit goes to Scott because he’s taller and he’s better at getting overhead shots of the crowd.)

We arrived just on time, just after the little talk the volunteers give to the runners so we made our way around to the starting line and the laps themselves weren’t too different to how I had been running. The only difference was that we were starting at the western point of the pond and running down the hill to the pond towards the end which meant we had to run up the steep hill twice. The run was very similar to my one apart from those few points though, which I felt at ease with.

At the very beginning I had some of the self-critical thoughts and doubts creep into my head thinking that there was no way I could do it and they seem to creep back at the exact same place for the second (and final) lap. I’m glad I pushed through the thoughts but it’s not the nicest mindset to be in, it might just take a while for that to pass, right?

20170812_102727(It was quite a cloudy day and it wasn’t very warm but that worked in my favour during the run, because it seemed like the perfect temperature.)

One thing that I’ve found is my FitBit seems to be slightly off and I had noticed this a few times but the run on Saturday seemed to confirm this. The run altogether is 5K exactly yet my watch is knocking 0.1miles off my time which is quite frustrating so if you see me posting my watch times and it only says 3.02 miles, it’s really 3.12 which is just over 5K.

So what was my time? Well I’m so happy that I hit another Personal Best because Scott said to me just before the end, “You’ll be so surprised at the end.” and I said that I was preparing myself to be disappointed. When you’re running in a big group of people, because there are so many people in front of you, you feel like you’re running too slow and I always look back to that very first slow run that I spoke about so I always feel like I’m running at that speed.

IMG_20170812_110243-02

My time was 35:42 according to Scott’s app, and it’s almost ten seconds more on my watch because I was so happy to finish that I forgot to hit the pause button, so that’s why there’s a few extra seconds on. According to Scott, from the first run we done together, I was doing a 14 minute mile and on this particular run, my average was 11:26 a mile, so quite the drop in times! As you can see from the watch statistics, it says 3.02 miles when really it was 3.10 miles so I’ll have to see if I can fix that somehow. It syncs with my GPS on my phone so I’m not sure what’s going on with it.

Thank you so much for reading today’s post and if you want to catch up on the previous posts of the series, they are all be linked below:
Training for a 5K Race: An Introduction and My First Run.
Training for a 5K Race: Running and Negative Mental Health.
Training for a 5K Race: The Lone Run. 

Training for a 5K Run: The Lone Run.

So with less than two weeks to go until race day, I need to up my running game and this is my third run since signing up to the race less than a month ago. This was my first lone run because Scott had to work so I thought it would be good experience to see where not only my head would be but how far my own motivation would take me, even though on the day of the race, I know he’ll be there.

20170717_210915(How pretty are the swans?!)

If you remember back to my second race, I wasn’t in the greatest place mentally but I’m very happy to report that my head was in a much better place for this run. I described it as “losing motivation” to Scott but he said it’s more self-doubt that anything. I got round about half way of the course (I say “around”, I only checked my distance twice because I didn’t want to get too obsessed with checking it) and I felt like I couldn’t do the full distance. I added a few more hills into this run than previous two so I felt the extra challenge of those and I think those were fuelling the self doubt.

Running on my own definitely wasn’t as lonely as I thought it might be. I’m quite used to my own company anyway but I thought since I was in a public place, I might feel it more but surprisingly I didn’t. I had my music playing throughout so I didn’t feel like I needed conversation because of that. Something that I’m still struggling with is my breathing; it might sound silly but controlling your breathing while running is quite challenging. Thankfully because I have my headphones on, I don’t hear the very heavy breathing noises but if I didn’t, I don’t think I would be able to hear myself think.

IMG_20170811_064507_229(The evening’s statistics on my FitBit!)

As you can see with my FitBit above, my numbers were thirty seven minutes and forty eight seconds. As with the second run I ran a little further than the 3.1 miles so if you scale my numbers back to exactly the miles to match 5K, I would have completed it in the thirty six minute mark which matches my last run. I was really happy with my results; I didn’t expect the same timings because I didn’t feel like I had went at the same pace.

20170717_210217(The waterfalls in the park are so peaceful especially in the evening.)

Overall, I’m really happy with how the run went. I’m very happy that my time stayed the same and I’m glad that I was able to push past the self doubt because that’s probably something that will always play on my mind (and it’s not something that happens when I’m just running either). It’s less than a week and a half to go now until the race, exciting!

If you want to read about my introduction to this series, you’ll find it here and if you want to hear about my raw, emotional experience when running, you’ll find that post here. Thank you for reading the series so far, I can’t wait to share the rest of the journey with you!