H is for Hypomania

This post is originally from The Pandora Box Gift Company, the gift giving service with a focus on mental wellbeing.

  Cyclothymia, like bipolar, has both the “ups” and the “downs”. The only difference being that the “ups” are less severe than those of someone with bipolar. So, instead of mania you suffer from hypomania. When a hypomanic state takes hold they can leave the person in a reckless and sometimes dangerous state of mind. Every action is without consequence and a strong belief that everything you’re doing is right for you, and everyone else, takes hold. Since being on quetiapine, I have reduced the rate of hypomanic episodes to pretty much zero.

  Even though I know that it’s good to reduce the number of hypomanic episodes, I’m sat here missing them. Every now and again I wish that I could just reach the edge of hypomania. The stage where I’m just starting to enter it but not too far gone for it to be self destructive. The stage where I feel like I’m 100% there. Everything I do and say is great. Work is done in a split second. The energy only ever runs out when I take nightly medication. I miss the feeling of being the best that I can be.

  It’s particularly tempting when I find my mood moving towards the low side of things. At the times when I’m anxious or socialising is difficult I think back to the times that I felt like I really shined. I miss the creativity when writing blogposts or deciding where to go with my business. If I focus on it for too long, I feel like I’m only a shadow of the person I could be.

  It hurts and it can be confusing as it makes me wonder which of these is my true personality? Am I meant to be the social butterfly that gets everything done or am I meant to be this timid anxious person that just gets on with things quietly. That’s the crux of the illness really. You’ve been given something that knocks you down but can lift you up higher than you thought possible. You get a taste of feeling so good and yet to succumb to it is only detrimental in the end.

See our range of gift boxes here: The Pandora Box Gift Company. 

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F is for Forgiveness

This post is originally from the A-Z mental health series by The Pandora Box Gift Company 

Everyone makes mistakes, does something they regret or simply gets in a mood from time to time. If we have a healthy approach to life and ourselves, we can accept that these things happen, forgive ourselves and move on. When our mental health is poor, we stop forgiving. We turn into our own worst critics and thoughts and feelings can make us turn against ourselves. We don’t give ourselves the level of care or compassion that we need, lose patience and don’t give the time we need to allow ourselves to heal. When this happens, all of our energy is used up trying to process unwanted and unhelpful thoughts, leaving us tired and unmotivated. We turn into our own worst enemy all because we can’t forgive!

Learning to forgive yourself is a slow and hard process and only really works when it becomes habit. A good way to get into the habit is by writing down something that you will forgive yourself for everyday. This way you will get used to addressing what you need to forgive and why you need to forgive yourself for it.

  1. Start by writing down one thing every day that you need to forgive yourself for.

    This can be anything from “I didn’t do the washing up today” to “I cancelled plans to see my friend today”.

  2. Write down the reason behind the action. Work out the route cause of the action you want to forgive yourself for. Sometimes this can help you find patterns to certain actions or find the base reasons to why you can’t forgive yourself. Be truthful with this step.

  • I didn’t do the washing up because I was exhausted due to my medication.

  • I cancelled plans to see my friend today because my anxiety made me feel like I couldn’t go outside.

  1. Write down why this action happened. This shouldn’t be anything negative or emotive. This should look at the rationale behind the action and help you realise that some things are going to happen because of your mental health and that they are unavoidable. What’s the point of punishing yourself for something that’s going to happen every now and again.

  • I didn’t do the washing up because I was exhausted due to my medication. Exhaustion is a common side effect of my medication that sometimes effects me.

  • I cancelled plans to see my friend today because my anxiety made me feel like I couldn’t go outside. This is a common result of having anxiety.

  1. Write I forgive myself.

    Each day you write this it will further instil itself and eventually you’ll believe it!

  • I didn’t do the washing up because I was exhausted due to my medication. Exhaustion is a common side effect of my medication that sometimes effects me. I forgive myself.

  • I cancelled plans to see my friend today because my anxiety made me feel like I couldn’t go outside. This is a common result of having anxiety. I forgive myself.

The list helps you realise the different ways poor mental health effects your life and how it isn’t your fault. After a while you will see that the small things you’ve been punishing yourself for a a direct result of an illness that clouds your judgement. In the end you will get into a habit of forgiving yourself and will find yourself stronger and more able to take on whatever your mental health throws at you. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.

Further steps:

If you feel strong enough, a great thing to do is to add a step that addresses what you will do next time this situation comes up to help you achieve your intentions. I find that if I have a an idea written down, I am more likely to do it than if I just think about it.

  • I didn’t do the washing up because I was exhausted due to my medication. Exhaustion is a common side effect of my medication that sometimes effects me. I forgive myself. Next time I will look out for indications that I am getting tired and try and do as much of the washing up as possible.

  • I cancelled plans to see my friend today because my anxiety made me feel like I couldn’t go outside. This is a common result of having anxiety. I forgive myself.

    Next time I will realise that I am meeting a friend and everything will be fine. The only reason I won’t go out is due to physical health problems or a really bad day mentally.

D is for Depression

This blogpost was originally posted on The Pandora Box Gift Company website.

Something a little bit different today. I tried writing a post about depression, whilst not feeling great. Instead of my usual full blogpost, all I could manage was this. I feel that it shows how depression can effect you.

Depression drowns and drains you.

Rids you of yourself.

Self confidence becomes a thing of the past.

Colours and light darken and grey.

This world is not meant for me.

It’s a place where everyone else is happy.

Usually I’d say I don’t deserve this,

But lately I don’t feel like I deserve anything.

No-one can get to me

I’m lost in this dark silent void

But don’t worry my friend,

there is still hope.

A little light that shines dimly in the distance

it shows me the way out of this.

Eventually I will make it.

C is for Christmas

– This post was taken from the blog from The Pandora Box Gift Company’s A-Z on Mental Health series –

Christmas, other holidays or special events can be great. They bring people together, they’re full of fun and activities and they give us something to look forward to. However there is another side to it all. Special events and holidays can prove to be tough on your mental health in multiple ways. We’ve listed how holidays and special events can effect your mood and how to help yourself.

Added pressure

There can be a lot of extra pressure placed on someone around a special event which can lead to extra stress and anxiety or increase different aspects of poor mental health. This can come from organising and bringing people together or trying to make sure that nothing goes wrong on the day.

Tips to help:

  1. Organise everything into lists: Make sure that you put only attainable goals on daily lists and place them in order of importance. Sometimes the best thing to do is to put lots of little tasks that you know you will definitely get done amongst other larger tasks. This way you’re guaranteed to complete some tasks and make you feel like you’re getting somewhere.

  2. Take some time for yourself: Make sure that you set time aside for yourself within your schedule. Take a bath and relax, read a book somewhere quiet or just take some time to chill out in front of the TV.

  3. Get enough sleep! Make sure that you get as much sleep as you need. Not getting enough sleep will leave you more susceptible to poor mental health.

Guilt

When your mental health is poor in the holidays it can lead to feelings of guilt and frustration. You may start to ask yourself why you can’t just be as happy as everyone else around you and why you can’t enjoy an event that is meant to be fun. You may also find that you get constant questions from those around you if everything is OK or your self confidence drops because you don’t feel like you’re ready to socialise.

Tips to help: Just remember that it is not your fault that you’re feeling this way. Unfortunately poor mental health doesn’t go away just because it’s Christmas or someone’s birthday. Relax, and tell yourself that you don’t have to force yourself to be as happy and cheery as everyone around you. As long as you try and make yourself feel the best you can feel at the time, it is fine. If that means taking some breaks away from the celebrations, writing feelings down or excusing yourself early, so be it.

Loneliness

Sometimes your situation means that you won’t have people to meet with when it seems like everyone else does. Or you have people to meet with but you feel disconnected and lonely even though you’re in a crowd of people.

Tips to help: If you find yourself alone during the holidays read this great guide by Stand Alone, a charity that help those estranged from their families and communities.

http://standalone.org.uk/guides/festive-guide/

If you’re feeling lonely when you find yourself amongst a crowd try writing these thoughts and feelings down. It’s a great way to try and establish why you’re feeling lonely, whether it’s the company around you or whether it’s your mental health. If you feel comfortable and confident, reach out to someone around you. Let them know how you’re feeling.

Alcohol

When it comes to celebrating, alcohol sometimes plays a major role and we can get caught up in the celebrations and overindulge. Alcohol is a depressant and can effect your mood, causing swings or susceptibility to a decline in mental health.

Tips to help: If you find yourself in a position where the alcohol is constantly flowing, make sure that you limit yourself and consider how much you can handle. Consider drinking only one or two drinks a day with meals and make sure that you have plenty of water and other soft drinks throughout the day as well.

***This advice is not for anyone whose medication states that they shouldn’t drink alcohol. If this is the case we suggest indulging in some of the many tasty non-alcoholic versions or drinks or making some lovely juices, smoothies or virgin cocktails. ***

Lack of exercise

When you’re busy getting together with people or resting for the holidays, exercise can be the last thing on your mind. Whether you have a usual exercise routine or never consider it, the holidays can be a great time to do some casual exercise.

Tips to help: Make sure you get a little walk in every couple of days. If you have people round or are meeting in a group, it may be a great time to suggest group sports or exercise. You’ll be surprised how many people may miss being active over the holidays or would love to do a bit of group sports!

We believe that if we all look out for how the holidays can effect our mental health, we can help each other and ourselves and reduce the effect that they have on us. Look out for our Christmas campaign that launches November 25th! It’s all about making sure we take extra special care of ourselves and others over Christmas.

Want to read more blog posts like this one? Go to http://www.thepandoraboxgiftcompany.com/#!blog/czwt. Don’t forget to also check out the range of Gift Boxes, Postcards and Greeting Cards that have all been designed for people with poor mental health. http://www.thepandoraboxgiftcompany.com/#!gift-boxes/c3yu

The day I started a company.

Earlier this year, I was sitting in my room, staring at my laptop fixating on things that might help me get out of this horrible depressive episode I had once again found myself in. I was constantly refreshing websites every few seconds, trying to find anything new that might distract myself as much as possible. When that got boring I’d move on to emails, the odd funny cat picture and then back to refreshing. It was one of those endless loops I’d usually find myself in. Trying to break this cycle, I tried searching for something I could buy myself that might make me feel better. A gift that was focused on me and my mental health. One that said “I know Lisa, it sucks right now, but here, have this. And see if it makes you feel any better.” The only problem was, when I typed in “mental health” and “gift boxes” in the same search, there weren’t very many results.

It was at that point that I decided to start my own company. I don’t know whether it was a brief stint of hypomania after the depression, or whether I was just annoyed that I didn’t have chocolate in the house, but I came up with the idea of packaging and selling gift boxes for people with poor mental health. Gift boxes that would try and provide some comfort when you’re not feeling great.

I spent the next six months putting together items that I thought people would like to receive and trying to build what would hopefully be a business that would help people. Then on the 25th of September I launched The Pandora Box Gift Company, the gift giving service with a focus on mental wellbeing.

www.thepandoraboxgiftcompany.com

The website has a range of items that have been put together with the simple idea that they will hopefully lift the mood of whoever receives them. Each of the gift boxes has been designed with a range of different products to help someone’s mood, all based on how I try and help myself when I’m feeling low.

The first is the Bath Set Gift Box. This box focuses on taking some time for yourself, relaxing and helping yourself to calm down, leading to a calmer, more settled mind. I can definitely vouch for the amazing effect a simple scented bath can have on your mood.

bath set full

The second is the Treat Set Gift Box. Packed full of chocolate, biscuits, bars and tea bags, these are all items that I find comforting when I need a little pick me up. Not only does it act as a treat, but it ensures that whoever receives it has access to some food. I usually find my willingness to get food for myself or cook goes right out the window when my mood drops.

food full set

The third is the Puzzle Set Gift Box. I find that when I do a simple task such as reading, drawing or completing a puzzle, I can distract my mind for a little bit and help calm myself down or distract myself from the thoughts that are effecting my mood. I’ve added a colouring book, a crosswords puzzle, a 3D wooden puzzle and a pack of playing cards to cover a multitude of activities that someone may want to do.

puzzle set full

The last gift box is the Combo Set Gift Box. This has all the contents of both the Bath Set and Treat set in one, giving someone the option to rest and relax and then treat themselves afterwards.

combo full set

All gift boxes come with a small information card that has important numbers and contacts for mental health services and information of what to do in a non-urgent and urgent mental health situation.

If anyone is actually out there, and still reads this blog, I hope you like the website and the idea. I really want this to be something that will help people around the country and give them a little mood boost when they need it.

To follow what we’re doing, please Like the official facebook page www.facebook.com/thepandoraboxgiftcompany