Rustic By Marney – How creativity helps me manage my anxiety and depression

Rustic By Marney was set up by Melissa Marney who crafts the most beautiful pens! Like many of us Melissa suffers anxiety and depression but found crafting and letting her creativity flow very therapeutic. I’ll be sharing my thoughts and images of a gorgeous purple flower pen she made for me, on the blog tomorrow! Keep an eye out! Until then here is Melissa’s story in her own words.

Rustic By Marney – How creativity helps me manage my anxiety and depression

Looking back on my childhood I now realise that I’ve always suffered with anxiety and depression. At the time I didn’t know anything about mental health issues, and I just thought it was normal behaviour and everyone felt the same way, but I just struggled more with my emotions. I covered my emotions and symptoms well, and looking back had a number of coping strategies, which I wasn’t aware were helping me, to cope at the time.

Hobbies

My favourite hobby when I was younger was ballet. I used to attend two classes a week and looking back now it was a way to shut my mind off, detach myself from uncomfortable feelings and emotions and silence those scary, intrusive thoughts.

As the years went on and I grew older I stopped dancing and didn’t replace this with another hobby. Having nothing to focus my energy on, my negative thoughts became louder and more uncomfortable and my symptoms worsened. Dealing with day to day life – working, paying the bills, maintaining relationships etc. It all became so consuming, and I knew something wasn’t right at the time but tried my best to conceal it (and I did a fantastic job at it!). I didn’t want anyone to know how I was truly feeling or that I was struggling to cope. There were times where I just wanted to scream out for help, but always remained silent and carried on with life.

Shutting Down

It wasn’t until a year ago, Steve and I got married in Cyprus, (which was the best day of our lives, very cliché, I know!) things changed. I pretty much arranged the whole wedding myself and in the lead up to it was unaware of how much stress I was putting myself under. Having perfectionist tendencies I wanted everything to go well, and was deeply involved with the all or nothing thinking. I also wanted to ensure everyone was happy and was having a good time.

While I was busy thinking about everyone else and my ‘perfect’ day I neglected my own needs my health was suffering as a consequence. When Steve and I returned from our wedding I didn’t feel myself at all. I put it all down to the ‘come down’ from the high I had been on the past few weeks. Nevertheless, I powered on and tried to get back into the real world. Unfortunately my mind and body had other plans. Two weeks later I had a breakdown, I completely shut down physically and mentally, I became an empty shell, I was just existing and not living. I knew things weren’t right and something had to change.

Recovery

It took me a while to accept what was happening. It took approximately six months to dig myself out of that ‘hole’ and get myself back on the right track. I’m still in recovery now, but having the right support, and a change in my thinking and attitude has helped me to accept it’s now just a part of me, and adjust to living with anxiety and depression.

During my recovery I found a new love in crafting. Throughout the years I’ve always told myself I’m rubbish at arts and crafts, I can’t do it and I believed it! It wasn’t until I started crafting my own place cards, guest book pens and jars for my own wedding where I realised this was all total rubbish! Silencing that negative voice in my head was a great victory.

Crafting To Cope

I’ve always been ambitious and dreamt of owning my own little business, and finding a purpose in life. During my breakdown Steve had mentioned to me about crafting again, however at the time I didn’t have the energy. As I slowly started getting better I took his advice and I started making my flower pens again. Slowly in time my passion and creativity started coming back, I was starting to feel my bubbly, confident self again. Crafting has been my biggest inspiration and I truly believe it has helped me cope over the past few months. Crafting has refocused my attention and reignited my passion.

Now whenever I feel anxious or have a bad day, however hard it is I grab all my crafting gear, sit down and get stuck in. I’ve found crafting extremely therapeutic and a way to ‘shut off’ from the stressors in the world. Turning my hobby into a business has given me great comfort as I now believe in myself. Having a passion in crafting and weddings, and combining the two is the perfect combination and therapy for me! There’s also that extra bonus of helping other brides have the best day of their lives. When they do then my mission is accomplished!

I recently saw the quote below which sums up my whole experience and filled me with comfort:

 Rustic By Marney - How Creativity Helps Me Manage Anxiety & Depression

Rustic by Marney can be found over on Facebook & Twitter. Whilst she does focus on weddings her gorgeous pens will brighten up any desk. You can find out more about Rustic by Marney and see the gorgeous pen she sent me too!

Do you find crafting therapeutic too?

Burnished Chaos

How To Be A Courage Queen Book Review

How to be a Courage Queen written by Rachael Alexander, a behavioural change psychologist, is a helpful guide to help change your life. This strategy-packed guide is available for £29.99. Anyone who reads my blog will know I suffer anxiety. The tiniest things can get me ridiculously worked up. I struggle to say no, feel guilty about small things and tend to feel like everything is my fault and will go wrong simply because it is me.

Courage Queen

Courage Queen

I figured How to be a Courage Queen was worth a read and wondered if it would be helpful. Often I struggle to see the positives in life and focus on the negatives. I’ve been trying over the last few months to make postive changes and help myself. If I want things to improve I have to work on my issues and accept I will have bad days without putting myself down for it.

This book helps you cope positively with what is going on around you. It helps you reflect on your life and take action to think or behave differently. Rachael Alexander suffered anxiety too until she began to learn about herself and it changed her life for the better. This gave Rachael the confidence to share these ideas with others in this book knowing it will benefit the reader.

Contents

This guide is broken down into 3 main sections. Each section is then broken down into manageable sections for you to complete. Each section contains different strategies to help you feel more positive and in control.

The guide begins with a declaration to yourself to commit to a journey of overcoming fears, living a life of courageous action where you can learn to love and be loved. You declare to commit to living a life of love, peace, purple, passion and joy which you sign and date.

A lot of sections ask you questions with boxes provided to fill out your answers. This is great for going back and reviewing your answers and seeing the progress you are making. The guide helps you seek out the answers and solutions to your own problems with simple questions and exercises. Filled with inspirational quotes along the way, you can’t help but feel a little more positive each time.

Others

This book covers issues that many people face and definitely feels like it is a helpful book.

 

Do you think How To Be A Courage Queen could benefit you too?

 

Improve Finances And Reduce Stress Using Technology

Want to improve finances and reduce stress using technology? I love technology and always welcome anything that reduces stress and helps improve finances due to my own mental health. Here is some advice* to improve finances and reduce stress levels using technology.

Improve Finances Using Technology

 

Use Technology To Reduce Stress And Improve Finances

A recent study has revealed that 14 million people worry about their finances every day. A shocking statistic which rings true for many. Mental health concerns affect many Brits. Whilst you shouldn’t pin everything on how much money you have or haven’t got, it’s difficult not to get stressed about money when the cost of living continues to rise. However, there is good news for the millions of stressed Brits worried about their finances. The key to taking control of your money is to reduce your stress levels. Technology is a great tool to help alleviate stress and there are such great mental health apps available to help you achieve just that.

Utilising technology

Wherever you turn, you’ll find yourself surrounded by some form of technology. Your home is probably full of gadgets such as smartphones, tablets, voice-activated home assistants and game consoles. Whilst over-use and over-exposure to technology has been linked to stress, there are ways in which you can effectively use technology to boost your mental health and reduce your stress levels to allow you to make smart financial decisions.

When stressed, individuals often make poor financial choices, such as purchasing high priced goods to make themselves feel better, only to instantly regret it when the item arrives, thus increasing stress. However, technology can be utilised in these times. If you’re staring at your online bank account and are worried about the balance, ask your voice-activated home assistant to play some calming music, such as whale music which is known to reduce stress levels.

Reading technology

Reading has been proven to reduce stress levels. Before you make any spur of the moment purchases, grab your electronic reading device and lower your stress levels. You can reduce your stress levels by as much as 68% by taking time out and enjoying a couple of chapters of a good book. Just six minutes of reading can make you feel calmer and more relaxed. Be sure to carry reading material with you wherever you go.

Debt and technology

Gadgets allow individuals to check their bank balance wherever they are and at any time of the day. This can be both a blessing and a curse. Students are often knee deep in debt which can cause them much stress. If you’re a student looking to consolidate your student loan, be sure to use organisational software first to get everything in order. That way you can review your finances with a clear, stress-free head.

Stress is a factor which people across the UK and around the world contend with every day. We face a lot of stress especially when it comes to sorting out finances. However, technology is a great tool to use to stay calm, reduce stress levels and stay on top of your finances.

Do you think you could Improve Finances And Reduce Stress Using Technology to?

*In collaboration with Chrissy Gladstone.

 

Mental Health Apps – MentalSnapp

I’ve been looking at mental health apps that can help me cope better on bad days. Mental Snapp is an app designed to help you manage your mental health using private video diaries. I know 2 people who find recording videos of themselves really helpful and love the sound of Mental health apps such as Mental Snapp.

Mental Snapp App Screenshot

Mental Health Apps

Mental health apps are a great way to manage and monitor your mental health. 1 in 4 of us will have a mental health episode at some point and it can be so confusing. Using mental health apps like Mental Snapp to actively manage our mental health can make it much easier. If like me you hate appointments and struggle to ask for help, apps like these can help us get things off our chest when we really need to.

Hannah Chamberlain, co founder of the app and originator of the idea, says; “I came up with the idea for Mental Snapp having told my own mental health story on film and helped other people tell theirs. I’ve been managing my own condition and making films on mental health for twenty years, and seen how telling your own story on film really makes a difference to people. Mental Snapp is a way to make the therapeutic benefits of journalling, rating mood and naming feelings accessible – the camera on your phone can be the therapist in your pocket.”

Mental Snapp

This video recording mental health app, Mental Snapp is available free to download from the App Store and Google Play. This helpful mental health app has been designed to be a space for you to tell your story and gain confidence. You can record short video diaries, rate your mood and name your feelings when using Mental Snapp. Your videos aren’t watched by anyone else so you don’t need to worry about being judged. It’s your version of events, and telling them helps you reflect and get to know yourself better.

Costs

A free app is always a good start and Mental Snapp is available for free. If however you need extra space to save your videos and want to access extra features, you can. The app costs £4.49 per month. The Mental Snapp app has been featured in the London Evening Standard. The idea is welcomed by the DWP too.

The Office for Disability Issues, DWP, says; “We welcome Mental Snapp as an innovative idea to help people manage their mental health. People living with mental health and other long term health conditions have barriers to overcome in living independently. The Government has set out a commitment to see one million more disabled people in work by 2027 and technology has an important part to play in helping us achieve this goal.  Mental Snapp is an exciting example of how technology can help promote methods of recovery that help people to live fulfilling lives.”

Mental Snapp can help you find things out about yourself and learn your moods easily. You simply record your video clip, rate your mood, tag a feeling and that is it! Nice and simple yet very effective. The app organises your video diary clips so they are easily searchable. This fantastic app also provides you with prompts and allows you to see patterns over time using the insights page.

 

Mental Health Apps - Mental Snapp Screenshot

 

The team at Mental Snapp believe you already have the skills you need to manage your mental health. Using the app and recording regular video clips can help you draw out those skills. It can feel a little odd recording yourself at first. Stick with it though and I promise you will see the benefits.

 

Do you think you could benefit from using Mental Snapp?

DIY Daddy

 

Self Care Gift Ideas And 5 Self Care Tips

Self care is something I have been saying I will put more effort into for ages now. Bit by bit I am learning to take care of myself a little bit more. It is hard as I am not used to it but I am making some time for me to relax.

 

Self Care Gift Ideas & 5 Self Care Tips

I have collaborated with a few lovely companies who focus on self care products. These are designed to help those of us who really need to put ourselves first. Self care helps us prevent a major crash and is so important for our minds and bodies. Perhaps you are looking at things to help you with your own self care or know a friend who could do with a little self care? These products and tips may help!

Self Care Notebook

Self Care Notebook Designed By Claire Sheehan

Claire Sheehan is an Artist from very close by in Southend-on-Sea who sells a beautiful range of products on Etsy designed to ‘soothe and feed the soul’. Self care is something that is easily forgotten when there is just so much to do, it can be hard to put yourself first.  Claire has designed this lovely A5 Self care notebook in grey, pink and white to help those focusing on self care.

This notebook is perfect for jotting down notes and reminders to help you plan your self-care. The notebook contains 48 blank pages of 80gsm recycled white paper for you to draw, doodle or write your plans. Available on Etsy for £5.50 plus shipping this notebook is a great treat for yourself or gift for someone who needs a little extra self-care inspiration. As you can see I have started putting mine to use already!

Self Care Notebook & Mantra's

Motivational Prints & Mantras

Claire also designed some fantastic motivational prints including the ‘I am strong and calm’ A6 mini print. This print is available on it’s own for £2.50 plus shipping or part of a pack of 5 mini prints for £10 plus shipping. Sometimes simple reminders like this can really help us feel a bit better about ourselves. Repeating them to ourselves or even just spotting them regularly help lift our mood and fill us with positivity.

Calming Scents

Help me have a mindful of calm spray from Help Me Organics

Help me Organics have an amazing range of organic products designed to help us relax. Everyone loves a gorgeous scent, it can really lift your mood. This is why Help Me Organics have created this fantastic ‘Help me have a mindful of calm’ range. This room spray is 40ml for £7.50. The scent was designed with a blend of essential oils to bring comfort to those who struggle with anxiety. They have combined Frankincense, geranium bourbon and lavender to work in conjunction with Mindful breathing techniques. Spraying 2-3 bursts in a room will help calm your mood and gently relax you. Help Me Organics also have massage oils and candles available in the Help me have a mindful of calm range. They also have several other ranges. I would definitely recommend browsing their site as they have some fantastic products!

5 Self Care Tips

It is so easy at times to forget about ourselves and worry about everyone else. Taking time out for yourself can make such a difference to your mood though. Those of us with anxiety and depression can really struggle to feel we are worth the time and effort. We know everyone deserves love and kindness but we often forget ourselves.

Be still

Do you find yourself constantly rushing around trying to finish all the never-ending jobs? STOP. Take a break, go for a walk in a beautiful park or along the river. Stop and simply enjoy your surroundings and the silence or sounds of nature. Take deep breaths and just be. I have to admit I underestimated the effects of this and am learning to do this more often.

Find an activity you enjoy

Especially as a parent I found I quickly gave up most things I used to enjoy to dedicate my time to my girls. Having a hobby/activity you enjoy and gives you a little you time is so important for self care. It really doesn’t matter what it is but spending even 20 minutes doing something you enjoy can change your entire day. I love to crochet and colour and have started picking up craft bits I have been wanting for years so I can do something for me. When you finish an activity for yourself it feels like a brilliant achievement. Even meeting up with a friend for a coffee counts!

Say ‘No’

Saying yes constantly leads to burn out. Remember we can’t please everyone. It’s ok to say ‘ No’ and put your health and well-being first. You are a priority, if you don’t take care of yourself how can you care for others? This is something I still struggle with daily BUT I have learnt to say No when it really matters and I have seen the difference it makes. Don’t feel guilty, we all matter! I love the saying ‘ You can’t pour from an empty cup, take care of yourself first’.

Pamper yourself

I struggle badly with this one but it is so important to pamper yourself and feel good. Make time for that bath, light some candles, relax in the bubbles. Washing my hair is something I regularly put off as it literally takes hours to wash dry and straighten but when I make time for it I feel awesome afterwards. Visit a spa or invite a friend over for a pamper evening for a real boost!

Make notes

If like me you tend to forget about yourself then make notes, leave them where you are most likely to see them or in a notebook. Not only can jotting down reminders help but writing about our feelings can help us process our emotions too. The self care notebook is fantastic for this. Reading back through our writing can sometimes help us see solutions to our problems.

If you or a friend are lacking when it comes to self care then I help these products and tips are helpful!

 

Travelling With Anxiety – 5 Tips

Travelling with anxiety can be so difficult, especially as Christmas approaches everywhere becomes noisier and busier. I don’t tend to travel much, especially alone as I panic quite often. We have found a few ways to manage my anxiety and make my journeys as easy as possible. I have one or 2 trips planned over the Christmas holidays and it got me thinking about others travelling with anxiety too.

Travelling With Anxiety - 5 Tips

It may seem obvious but planning ahead can make journeys much easier when travelling. Here are 5 ways to make your journey a little easier.

  1. Check your route – Google maps is your friend! Make sure you know exactly where you are going, using street view I can look at the front of the building and surrounding buildings. The area feels a little more familiar and I can find my way much easier knowing what to look out for.
  2. Check Travel Options – I tend to look for the quickest routes and the cheapest fares. If I am travelling by train I check to see the train before and after the one I am aiming for in case I arrive early or late. I also check to see what buses run too in case there are any issues getting the train.
  3. Book in advance – Booking tickets in advance make travelling a lot less stressful. Not having to queue up for you ticket can save a lot of time and panic. You can often save a little too by booking a week or so in advance. A lot of the buses now have apps so you can buy your ticket on the go. I love this as it stops me worrying about losing my ticket.
  4. Take a distraction – I find if I have nothing to do I become overly anxious when travelling. Crocheting, tweeting or reading an e-book really help distract and calm me down.
  5. Take a snack & drink – Again this may seem obvious but if there are delays being hungry and thirsty will make you feel much worse. Keeping hydrated and sugar levels up is important when travelling, especially on longer journeys.

C2C Digital Display Boards

I was really pleased this week when Your Thurrock announced C2C are currently installing new digital display boards at their stations which show how full each carriage is. This simple little thing has made me really happy as I struggle with crowded noisy carriages. I know plenty of others find it hard too and these displays can make travelling with anxiety easier. Being able to avoid overly crowded carriages will make travelling easier for so many people.

Travelling with anxiety can be really stressful, do you have any tips for easing anxiety whilst travelling?

Where To Buy Mobility Aids

I’ve been looking at where to buy mobility aids over the last year both for myself and friends. I quickly learnt it can be quite tricky finding somewhere that does it all but I recently came across Millercare Mobility Specialists. Millercare offer a wide range of mobility aids with free delivery over £30.

Healthcare products

Right from the basics millercare have a range of products to help anyone with any form of disability. Due to the fact I take medication on a regular basis products like this pill dispenser are really helpful to find! I love how colourful the one below is, for

Weekly Pill box
Pill Organiser Anabox Weekly £20.34 inc. VAT£16.95 ex. VAT

Mobility Aids

There’s a fantastic selection of walking sticks available from fold up walking sticks to straight sticks. With a range of specific features such as contoured hand grips, Palm grip, and even glowing sticks for the night time. You can also find a range of accessories to go with the walking sticks such as ferrules, table grips and straps.

Millercare also offer an extensive range of wheelchairs for children and adults. Transit, self propelled, lightweight and sport are all covered with some lovely colours offered too! A range of accessories such as seat cushions, bags and ponchos for wheelchairs can also be found for great prices.

Wheelchair
i-Lite Travel Wheelchair – Silver £130.80 inc. VAT£109.00 ex. VAT

You can shop by department, if you need something for the bathroom, kitchen, living room or bedroom there’s plenty of mobility aids to suit your needs.

Where to buy mobility aids
Selina Electric Adjustable Bed £715.14 inc. VAT£595.95 ex. VAT

Everything from mobility scooters to new and reconditioned stair lifts are available at from £1300 upwards. Any mobility aids you may need you can find online at millercare mobility specialists.

stairlift banner.jpg

Where do you find mobility aids? Have you heard of or purchased from Millercare before?

 

Tackling My Mental Health With Thrive: Feel Stress Free

I’m tackling my mental health with Thrive: Feel Stress Free, an app created to help gradually build resilience to and manage stress. Something I am struggling with immensely lately. Thrive is also designed to help with anxiety and mild depression which I also struggle with.Thrive

 

I recently had a medication review which didn’t go too well. I saw Dr who clearly didn’t read my notes and his comments left me feeling rubbish. Because of this my mental health has spiralled out of control and I’ve struggled to cope lately. A Dr trying to change my medication without reading my notes ( I figured this as he asked as I was leaving if I’ve been to the pain clinic yet instead of ‘just taking medication’!) has left me feeling even more messed up than before! I avoided medication for a good 5 years when I obviously needed it, I’ve tried everything I can & given in and accepted medication just to get that kind of reaction. That’s probably a whole other post though!

I have decided I will try my best to take my mental health into my own hands and hopefully Thrive can help with that. I will be trying out the app and sharing how I get on with it in a few weeks time.

What Is Thrive?

Thrive teaches clinically proven techniques such as mindfulness and CBT. I will be trying the app out over the next month to try and manage my stress and anxiety as I am really struggling again lately. A confidential wellbeing app, Thrive helps build resilience, prevent and manage stress, anxiety and other common mental health conditions. Thrive is designed to help de-stress I just 5 minutes. I hope this is the case for me!

Subscription Costs

The Thrive app is available on all Android and Apple devices. 3 different subscription packages are available.

Monthly –  £5.99

Quarterly – £14.97 for 3months of unlimited access. That’s just £4.99 a month!

Yearly  – £47.88  a year brings the cost down to £3.99 a month.

How Does It Work?

There are several parts to the Thrive app. Each section focuses on one area but the app considers all area’s when processing results & giving advice. Thrive learns more about you as you use it which allows the app to give better suited advice.

Mood

Mood Meter

The Thrive app begins by asking questions and tracking them on the Mood Meter. Every day you answer the questions which allows the app to assess your current issues. With this information the app can provide useful results to help you work on those issues. Over time the app learns more about you allowing it to advise you better each time.

Thrive- Words of encouragement

Thought Trainer

The CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) based thought trainers is designed to help re-frame negative thoughts. This is something I really need to work on myself and I’m keen to see if I can see the positives in the negatives. The mood meter tracks everything and stores it in the Progress section of the app. The thought trainer slowly personalises itself to your

self suggestion

Relaxation Techniques

 Thrive uses four relaxation techniques – calm breathing, meditation, deep muscle relaxation and progressive relaxation. You may find certain techniques may work better for you than others. Try them all to see which works best for you. There’s a range of sessions varying in duration & situation. You can select what works best for you.

Wellbeing Guides

There’s a selection of wellbeing guides available on Thrive. The guides help understand and support you through situations like trouble sleeping, money worries, loss of a loved one, weight worries and more.

Zen Garden

This is my favourite part of the app already. The Zen garden allows you to get creative and design your own peaceful garden.  Creating a peaceful Zen garden helps keep your mind off stress. I’ve already found raking and making patterns quite peaceful.

Zen Garden

Message in a Bottle

Message in a bottle lets you share a completely confidential and anonymous message in a bottle with words of encouragement. Everyone needs a few words of encouragement at times!

Across all of these different area’s the app learns about you and can tell you where you need help. As you can see below my anxiety is the main issue which I’m hoping Thrive can help me with. Don’t forget to check back in a week or 2 to see how I get on!

Results

Have you used Thrive? Did you find it useful? Do you think it may be useful if you haven’t tried Thrive?

Social Anxiety – Struggling to get involved

I’ve been struggling with social anxiety for as long as I can remember. Whilst I am getting better at going out & socialising my anxiety still holds me back.

Recently I contacted my local community project to get involved. I figured I may be able to help spread the word about events & fundraising and maybe get to meet a few more people locally. Feeling brave I typed out a message & hit enter. I got a reply and we organised meeting up for a chat.

Izzy fell ill and I missed meeting the guy who runs the project. I contacted him to apologise and agreed to rearrange. My anxiety is preventing me from messaging again though. I’m just a small blogger who writes to pass the time especially when I’m in pain. How could I actually help?

I was also invited to the community house meetings which are on a Thursday evening. Of course I let everything get in the way so I was ‘too busy’ to go. This has annoyed me. I’m preventing myself from moving forward with the blog & getting to know more people in the community. Why? Because I’m scared. I’ve always been the weirdo’s kid, the outcast and I still feel that’s how people see me. 

Whilst my confidence has grown in some areas my personal confidence is still struggling. I know I can offer something to the community, I’m doing well with the blog but I don’t have the confidence I need to get that across. Getting to know people locally could be nice but at the same time I quite like being unnoticed. I guess I am a bit of a loner. Realistically though  I need to get out more, I need to meet more people, I need to have more confidence in myself and start getting involved more in the local community.

I’m determined to work on this but I know it’s going to be tough.

Do you have social anxiety? Do you have any confidence building tips? Has getting involved in a community project helped you overcome social anxiety?

 

Living In A High Rise With Anxiety & Chronic Pain

Living in a high rise can be hell for me! My regular readers will know quite a bit about my anxiety & chronic pain and those that read my #worldmentalhealthawarenessweek post will know a fair bit more about my mental health. Living in a high rise flat makes all of this much more difficult. When I’m having a bad day it isn’t a case of just opening the door & stepping out into the sunshine. Being 11 floors up makes it feel like a full blown mission just to get out of the building. Sometimes it leaves me feeling so trapped I lock myself away for days at a time just to avoid the going out & coming in the block.

I definitely spend more time worrying about going out now than I did when we were in a house. Living in a high rise means you WILL bump into people on your way in and out which stresses me out, especially on bad days. I’m not a people person, I can’t do small talk, I feel awkward and panic about how I look & sound. Knowing I live in a block with some extremely violent neighbours including the guy above us (who attacked the Mr back in March) can make me panic.

The worst part about living with anxiety & chronic pain on the 11th floor is when there are issues with the lifts. If they go out of service I am either stuck upstairs or downstairs or have to push myself through the pain which generally leaves me struggling for DAYS! Our lifts go out of service quite regularly even though they were ‘replaced’ last year.

On Wednesday, after over 12 hours of hearing one lift screeching up and down and people screaming, banging and ringing the bell getting stuck in the other lift the Mr got stuck for 10 minutes. Eventually he got up to the 14th floor & the doors opened, the Mr instantly called the council to try and get them fixed.

I tried to go out an hour or 2 later and found the lifts just wouldn’t open at all so I had to brave going down the stairs with Izzy. Going down isn’t so bad but with a 2 year old sliding down the concrete steps for 11 floors my back was agony by the time we got downstairs. Relieved to have at least got out we wandered off to town and the lifts seemed to be working when we got back.

We ended up stuck for 5 minutes but we were luckily let out again at the 14th floor and the Mr ran up to meet us and help Izzy as she was a little panicked. Fuming the lifts were still in service and trapping people the Mr went off to hunt down the caretakers to try and get the issue resolved. My anxiety was quite bad at this point and I kept going very dizzy. Trying to remember my calm breathing from CBT I slowly managed to calm myself down.

I’d agreed to do the afternoon school run as the Mr needed to wash his jeans (he’s a nightmare and ruins them instantly) so I started worrying about that too. We left quite early so Izzy could try walking to the school & back for the first time, roughly a mile each way. It’s a good job we did as the lifts were still not working. Again we had to go downstairs & I was dreading coming back.

After a lovely walk to the school & back we stopped a caretaker on our way home to check what was going on. He rang through to the council for me and told me the engineers had fixed it in the time we had been gone. When we got to our block though 2 other caretakers were stood at the bottom with a lift open but dropped a good few inches. They told us it should be fine but there may be a step.

Panicking I asked if they were sure & even joked if we got stuck I’d blame them. The lift stated to move ok, no noises until we got to around the 7th floor where the lift stated banging and jumping/dropping. We had another lady and her teenage son in the lift with us & we were all trying our best not to freak out, especially as I had both girls with me. With the lift doors refusing to open and the lift dropping along with ‘Doors opening, door’s closing’ repeating over and over I had to seriously work on controlling my breathing.

The girls were getting quite upset at this point so I tried to calm them down by giving them juice as the lift was getting extremely warm. Suddenly we heard the Mr’s voice asking if we were ok and what was going on. I managed to shakily shout back that we were ok and explain what was going on. We didn’t realise at this point but the 2 caretakers had come up in the lift beside us and had got stuck too. They managed to get out & the Mr asked them to call the fire brigade which they apparently aren’t allowed to do if people are stuck in the lifts!?

The Mr rung the fire brigade instead, he’s not one to hang around when something needs doing & explained there were young children in the lift and people with anxiety. I was sat with the girls at the back of the lift, both of them crying because they were scared. I honestly just wanted to scream myself but I knew I had to keep calm for the girls so I kept them talking instead. ‘That’s daddy, he’s the other side of the doors, it’s ok. You know daddy will fix it, daddy fixes everything’ I told them. Izzy bless her said ‘Just like he always fixes things’. That seemed to calm them down slightly.

Whilst waiting for the fire brigade the Mr kept trying to call the lift to different floors to see if the doors would open at some point. Each time it got stuck I told the other people to ring the alarm so they knew the lift had stopped again. We went up to the 14th but nothing happened, we went back down floor by floor with the lift still jumping & banging as it went. The doors finally opened when we reached the 7th floor with the lift dropped down a good few inches and we all got out as quickly as we could.

As soon as we were out we headed for the stairwell & made our way back up to our floor. I was visibly struggling & the caretaker suggested I stop & sit down but I explained I have chronic pain as well as anxiety so needed to keep going before my legs gave in. Living on the 11th floor of a high rise is not fun! I needed to get us all indoors so I could calm down as the pain was making me shake & struggle to breath along with my heart & head racing like mad. The Mr came looking for us and met us at the 9th floor & took over helping the girls up which was a huge relief.

We got through the door & all collapsed on the sofa, except the Mr. The fire brigade had arrived a minute after the doors opened so the Mr ran down to let the firefighters know what had happened. They agreed the lifts needed turning off until an engineer had been out again like the Mr had been asking the caretakers to do all day. Finally they were shut down & it seems an engineer came out in the early evening as one lift now works but the other is out of service.

I’m extremely nervous about going out again now, more so than before. Living in a high rise is so damn stressful for such a range of reasons. I can’t deal with the pain throughout my body after so many flights of stairs in one day as well as walking. I’ve taken all the meds I can safely take and it’s barely even taken the edge off.  The girl’s are still a bit shaken up & Eva was so worried leaving for school this morning too. I hate living in a high rise with chronic pain & anxiety, things like this just add to it and make me panic and worry more.

The most terrifying part was finding out the alarm isn’t connected to ANYTHING. It simply rings & your best hope is someone will hear it and try to call the lift to get it working again. How can I calmly step into the lift knowing if I get stuck it could be ages before someone hears? We were lucky the caretakers had known & the Mr had been watching for us to come in the block knowing the lifts were playing up & then kept an eye on them. My head keeps going over the what ifs even though I am trying to block them out. We got out safely, we are fine… But what if it happens again?

Do you live in a high rise? Do you struggle with it too?