On the 1st December I started to write an Alternative Advent Calendar. I have been posting these 'gifts' daily on Facebook and Instagram.Christmas is busy, and expectations are high. It can become stressful and overwhelming very quickly. My Advent Calendar is an antidote to this. Each day I have been writing short thoughts about ways to manage this season, ideas about how to stay sane, maintain mental health and hopefully enjoy the festive period.I am writing to remind myself. To talk truth to myself.And to remind you. To talk truth to you.Here are the first seven daysDec 1st The Gift of...

This is the fifth and final instalment in a series about my decision to begin taking anti-depressants again, you can read from the beginning of the series here.22nd FebruaryI am four weeks in. And I won't lie, it has not been straight forward. I wanted a magic pill, a tablet that would return me to the confident easy-going, keen to make plans, person I think I once was.But I can't go back, only forwards.And really, I am glad of this. The unknown future is scary, but it is also full of possibilities.Four weeks in, I have more peace. I no...

The first few weeks taking anti-depressants I was a mess of emotions; hope that this would be the start of a new season, fear that it wouldn't work, and anxiety about potential side-effects.Being physically ill has always been the focus of my anxiety, so taking any kind of chemicals, anything new and unknown into my body, was terrifying.  I think this was one of the reasons I had resisted anti-depressants for so long...

Once I had decided to take anti-depressants again, (read from the beginning of the series about this decision here) there was one other recurring thought I had to grapple with. This was it:That taking anti-depressants was something that weak people did because they weren't brave enough to face life on their own.It was cowardly. It was shirking the hard work. It was taking the easy option.Now I know in my heart of hearts this is a load of bollocks.But years ago, when I was still wearing the brittle shell of invincibility that youth gives you, this was what I thought. It...

At the beginning of this year I made a decision to start taking medication for my anxiety. This is part 2 in a series about making this decision and its impact.If you want to read this from the beginning, part one can be found here.The relief I felt about my decision to start taking anti-depressants again was sweet. Instantly my breathing regulated itself, I felt calm returning. Sometimes just the decision to do something practical about a problem can bring respite, as if one proactive action tricks us momentarily into thinking we are cured.But hot on the heels of this...

Okay.Deep breath.At the beginning of this year I made a decision to start taking medication for my anxiety again.Anti-depressants.This is part 1 in a series about making this decision and its impact. About mistaken beliefs and new starts. About shame and truth and hope.I started to write about this in January, but everything was too new and raw.It was too much to write about it, let alone share it.But I'm ready now.Last July I wrote a post (you can read it here) about a panic attack I experienced that was terrifying and humiliating and probably in my top 5 panic attacks...