Mental Health, Uncategorized

Cyclothymia – How I Coped

cyclothymia

I was 19 when I was diagnosed as being cyclothymic, during the years it affected me my life at times could be simply unbearable. At 21 now I firmly believe I have overcome the worst of this illness, I haven’t had a suicidal thought in over a year and the way that I see things has improved remarkably. I’ve wrote about what I did during the period it was at it’s worst, hoping that if you too are suffering that you may find hope or relate to what I did.

 

What is cyclothymia?

 

For those who don’t know or understand what cyclothymia is, it’s a type of chronic mood disorder which is considered to be a mild form of bipolar disorder. Sufferers face numerous and various mood swings and depressive states followed by a hypomanic state. It is becoming more common amongst people but not as frequent as bipolar disorder, although it is believed that 15-50% of cases may then lead to the diagnostic criteria for bipolar 1 or 2. It is just as common in men as it is women, however it is generally believed that women seek help more often than men. The exact cause of cyclothymia is unknown at the moment, although there may be a genetic component. A study showed that identical twins are 2-3 times more likely to be affected if one of the siblings suffers from it, and it is also known that it often occurs together within families.

 

What do sufferers endure?

 

As stated earlier, sufferers usually go through depressive and hypomanic states. Below are just a number of examples of the different types of mindsets, emotions, habits that sufferers go through during each episode.

Depressive state – difficulty making decisions, problems concentrating, poor memory recall, self criticism, low self esteem, pessimism, apathy, constant sadness helplessness, hopelessness, social withdrawal, lack of sexual desire, quick temper, poor judgement, fatigue, insomnia, appetite change and sleepiness.

Hypomanic state – euphoria, Unusual good mood, racing thoughts, extreme optimism, inflated self esteem, aggressive or hostile behaviour, agitation, risky behaviour, spending sprees, increased drive to perform or achieve goals, easily distracted, decreased need for sleep and lack of consideration for others.

There are much more other emotions/mindsets that are linked to cyclothymia, this is just a short summary.

 

Practices I put in place

I struggled to cope for around a year and a half, pretty much the full time before my diagnosis. When I was diagnosed however, I began to research and look to others who were/had been through it. The Internet can be a massive help, there are literally hundreds of people who post blogs/post questions on forms and there is always someone trying to offer some advice. As Well as practices you can do yourself there are a few treatments available, lithium is quite a common method of treatment as well as drugs such as carbamazepine, oxcarbazepine or sodium valproate. CBT has also been known to be quite an effective therapy. Whether it was my pride believing I didn’t need any help, or I was too embarrassed to ask I never got nor seeked professional help.

Writing – when I had began to research, I saw quite a few people had recommended writing as part of a therapy. There are many different forms of writing you can do, like one woman had said her husband used to write down everything he was feeling and what was on his mind in a little book. They would then read over the book and see if there was anything they could do which would help, or to prevent something from happening again. Another person would write blog posts and another would write novels, using the depressive mindset as a positive to write deep and emotional storylines and themes. I myself however began to write music when I was at a low. I would write raps about how I felt, how I thought and what I thought. Without a doubt I wrote some of my best lyrics when I was in a depressive state. My first song I ever released was about depression, which got people noticing me throughout the whole Scottish rap scene. Another one of my releases about suicide, a concept based on some of my horrible thoughts became my greatest release. I gained countless plays on local radio, from Glasgow and the West to across the pond. People would mail me telling me they couldn’t stop crying listening to it, others would tell me how much they could relate to it and how they too had experienced the same thoughts. I was never too keen on my own music though, which is why I never really took it serious. But the fact I managed to connect to so many people with what I was going through was a sense of achievement, also a great reminder that I wasn’t alone with my struggles.

I would say writing is one of the most effective and productive ways in coping with cyclothymia.

One of the greatest things to remember as a cyclothymia sufferer, is that after your depressive state a hypomanic state will follow. I used this to the full of my advantage. Whenever I was upset, crying, angry, going through one of the rough patches I always told myself that in a short while I was going to be a lot different. I convinced myself to wait out my depressive episode and anticipate the energy, motivation and completely different mindset which would soon follow. Any goals, ideas, pretty much anything positive and progressive I had I would act on in my hypomanic states. From publishing one of my songs to booking a getaway, I would do this whilst in a hypomanic state. You can achieve so much in such a short space of time, which is why I would encourage you to try and view the hypomanic state as a gift rather than a curse.

In June 2013 Stephen Fry wrote a piece on his struggles with cyclothymia. Stephen Fry is a hugely intelligent and successful man, and although I don’t necessarily agree with a few of his views and opinions it doesn’t take away the fact that the man has achieved so much whilst battling this illness. He alone should be proof that you can progress and gain so much without cyclothymia holding you back.

It’s been over a year since I last had a major depressive episode, although I still have my bad days I am now in a better frame of mind than I ever was. I see things in a different perspective and I’m also hopeful and ambitious. I pray that one day they understand cyclothymia a lot better, find out what causes it and how to prevent/stop it. Until that day though, you just gotta keep fighting on. Dark and good days will both come and pass, the best thing you can do is to try and channel all those negative emotions and thoughts into something positive as hard as it may be. You can overcome the worst of this, I know this because I have. I hope that you conquer this illness one day, just please remember you are not alone. If you’re having one of the bad days please talk to someone on one of the online forms or drop me a mail at outsideofthewell@outlook.com.

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Travel

Travelling On A Budget

 

pennies6

Okay, so you want to travel. Travelling is awesome! But, like myself you have a problem. Your skint. Or you want to go and do certain things or go to certain places, but your budget is restricting you. Stupid money. However it is possible to travel on a budget, seriously! I’ve drawn up a list of hints and tips that will hopefully be useful if you’re planning on travelling.

Maybe there’s a week you want to go, a week you have your heart set on. Unfortunately, if it’s an event you’re planning on going for you’re probably going to have to splash a little more cash than you normally would. Airlines and hotels etc will be aware this event is on, meaning that they know there will be a surge of people looking to book up. Ultimately leading them to put the price up. Real nice of them eh?

However, if you’re just looking to travel or go on a short holiday then flexibility may be your key to saving a fortune!

 

Flights

 

  1. I recently pondered buying a return ticket from Glasgow to Vilnius for less than £40, for a couple of days or even a month before it could have cost over £200… I know, not much of a difference eh? The secret is you have to be flexible with your dates, it can be the difference between a £1 and a few £100.
  2. Airlines are always chopping and changing their prices, booking in advance can save you some cash but so can leaving it to last minute. Be careful though with the latter as you may end up leaving it too late and the price may rise instead of dropping. Not exactly what your wanting.
  3. Try every option you can, look at nearby airports in or out of the country you’re planning on going. Say you want to visit Vienna, flights to and from maybe overly expensive and way out within your ideal budget. But say a flight to Budapest is pretty damn cheap. Budapest is 1hr 30 away from Vienna. There’s a direct train and a variety of buses that connect city to city. If you go down this route it may be a little extra hassle but if you’re saving a good deal of money it can certainly be worth it. Plus you can tick another city off your to do list!
  4. A great website for comparing flight prices for different airports on different days is www.Skyscanner.com. This is what I use when booking my flights, it is an actual life saver!

 

Accommodation

 

Depending on what city or country you’re visiting, you’re going to need somewhere to sleep. Unless you don’t sleep, in which case you need help. But I’ve made a wee list on the three main types of accommodation you should look into.

 

  1. Hotels – okay, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that a 5 star hotel is probably going to cost a few bob more than a 1 star hotel. So if you’re looking to live a little lavish for the duration of your stay, depending on where you’re staying you may wish to rethink that. Hotels can be weird yet wonderful, the trick is to try and find one as soon as you can. Don’t leave it to last minute! Hotels in certain places can go like hotcakes, so you might find yourself on to plumbs if you hold off. A long story short, I paid €120 for a hotel in Dublin after a night out that (let’s just say) got a little wild. That was the cheapest accommodation available at that time, and I mean in the whole of Dublin city centre! If you’re going to a city such as Bucharest you can get a 4 star hotel for as little as €35 a night, or a 1 star from €18 and so on. The key is to find out if you’re willing to pay more for that little extra bit of quality, or you’re just happy having the basics in a hotel. But it just goes to show you can get good deals out there.
  2. Hostels – ahh, my favourite kind of accommodation. People can be very pessimistic about hostels, the thought of sharing a room with a whole bunch of strangers can be terrifying and unpleasant. In my experience however, it can be so much better and beneficial to stay in a hostel. Especially if you’re solo travelling. Like recently, I managed to find a hostel in the centre of Vilnius and for 3 nights it was €16. €16!!! That is like £12 for three nights, which is pretty freaking good! On the same date as I mentioned in the hotel section I searched for a hostel in Bucharest, one straight away came up for €6.24 for one night! If you’re wanting to save money and spend as little as you possibly can, hostels are the best way to do it. Sharing a room with a group of strangers can be daunting, but if you engage in conversation with them then you may end up with a friend for life. A lot of the people who stay in hostels are solo travellers from around the world. Different hostels have different activities you can partake in and get to meet new people, some people leave notes on notice boards looking for people to accompany them in either sightseeing or to the pub. If you want to meet new people or want to hang out with people during your stay then hostels are the best way for it. As well as sharing rooms, hostels also offer single rooms and double rooms and so on. The majority of these rooms are a lot cheaper than most hotels. Using Bucharest again, on the same date I found three hostels offering a double room for €22. Another wee tip for using hostels is if you’re travelling in a group of 4 or 6 or whatever, you can buy every bed available in a dorm if you can. This means you are all sharing a room with each other with no strangers, and for also a shed load less money.
  3. Alternative accommodation – Apart from hotels and hostels there are a wide majority of other types of accommodation. Websites such as http://www.homestay.com, http://www.onefinestay.com and many more offer you not only the opportunity to embrace the culture and get some valuable local knowledge but also offer you very cheap prices. www.helpx.net is my favourite alternative accommodation. HelpX offers you the chance to live with locals for free, as long as you’re willing to put in a bit of work. People from all over the world advertise on helpx. The tasks can vary from looking after a dog for a few hours, to working on a farm for a day. It is exciting as well as adventurous, plus it looks good on a cv!

 

Simple ways to save

 

There are many many ways you can save money whilst travelling or on holiday. I’ve put a few wee bullet points on different practices/methods below.

  • Baggage – if you’re planning on going away for a few days then ask yourself “Do I really need a suitcase?”. If a simple bag with a few essentials is all you need then forget the suitcase and just use a decent sized bag. The majority of airlines allow you a generous amount of cabin luggage. If you just use a cabin bag then you can save yourself £30/£40 quid. Which is quite a lot of money.
  • Research travel before you get there – when me and my friends  arrived at El Prat airport in Barcelona the first time I went we realised we had a problem, None of us knew how to get to where our hostel was. We ended up getting a taxi which cost around €40. The second time I went I got a bus to the same part of the city which was only about €6. Search before you go to find the best travel methods, don’t rely on improvisation because you may end up scunnered if you do! A good wee tip is to use the tour buses that operate. The majority of them go to the major parts/landmarks of the city, so using it as a personal taxi can save you a fortune and the hassle of having to get individual forms of transport to and from where you want to go.

I have listed a few things that should (hopefully) help you save a few quid. The best advice however I can give to you is to research thoroughly the place you are going, all the information you need is online but unfortunately you may have to dig deep for it. I wish you all the best for your travels and if you have any additional tips or if any of what I have wrote has helped you then please leave a comment. Happy travelling!

Travel

Barcelona

 

barcelona_02_bigIf you’ve ever looking for a destination for travelling or even a short getaway, visiting Barcelona is a BIG MUST. And that’s a big must with like capitals and everything like no matter how much I try and emphasise it; it will never do it justice.. Seriously, if you’re ever considering a trip to Barca? Do it. You will not regret it, I can guarantee you that. A city rich in culture and unbelievable architecture it’s hard not to instantly fall in love.

No matter what “tickles your fancy”, Barcelona has it. If you’re a sporty or arty person, musician or music enthusiast, or just someone who likes the sun and beach or getting a good ole fashion swally, Barcelona will not disappoint you.

I have visited twice and experienced both the sightseeing side of things and the nightlife. I want to travel the world, but if that wasn’t the case I would spend every second I could in Barcelona!

 

Meeting people

 

Although both times I have travelled with friends, it is the perfect city to solo travel in. On my last visit there, we met so many wonderful and amazing people from a mixed background of nationalities. There were Americans, English, Scottish, Australian, Norwegian and even three guys from Kazakhstan. Meeting people was no problem. If you’re looking to meet people of course staying in a hostel is probably the best option(and cheapest!), bunking up with a number of strangers and sharing a room you will no doubtedly get interacting with them. That’s if you can find a common language to communicate through. A huge tip if you want to go out and experience the nightlife and meet people would be to go to “patagonia”. It is a cool wee bar on Las Ramblas, and at night time it becomes a tourist hot-spot.The pr guys on the ground and inside are honestly the coolest guys you will ever meet. They’ll ask you where you’re from and introduce you to other tourists from other countries. They basically encourage you to be friends, which to be honest is a huge bonus if you are shy or find it hard to start conversations with strangers. Its honestly that simple.

 

Things to do

 

One of the best things about the city is you will never be stuck for things to do, the place is absolutely packed with landmarks, attractions, and activities for people of all ages.

Below is a list of potential places and sights you should consider if you do decide to go, there are many more places you should try and visit but these are my top 11:

  1. Las Ramblas
  2. Sagrada Família
  3. Nou camp
  4. The beach
  5. Tibidabo Amusement Park
  6. Park Güell
  7. The Gothic quarter
  8. Casa Milà
  9. Montjuïc
  10. Parc de la Ciutadella
  11. Montserrat

 

Travelling on a budget

 

Okay, we all know how expensive travelling can be; but if you’re on a low budget and your not wanting to spend an absolute fortune then you can pull it off. Real talk!

I have made a little list of tips and hints on a previous blog, the link should be below. It should be below, If not? Panic, everybody panic!!

https://outsideofthewell.wordpress.com/2016/01/12/travelling-on-a-budget-2/

The Bus turìstic as I have mentioned before is a fantastic way to explore the city, but it’s also a little life saver if you’re looking to save cash. It cost €27 for one day and €38 for two, pretty pricey yeah but it can also save you a shed load. There are 3 routes it takes, each route bypassing pretty much all the major landmarks and attractions. This is handy if you’re wanting to make the most of your visit. When I went I basically used this as my taxi to and from places, even if it was just a lift back to the hostel it saved me money on bus fares, trains or taxis. When you buy a ticket you are given a little booklet which has discounts on everything from food to admission fees. This could literally save you hundreds of euros in the long run. The aerobus is also another little gem, it is available every 5 minutes and runs every day of the year. it takes you from the airport to the city centre in around 35 minutes making stops along the way and also the way back. It costs €5.90 for one way but considering a taxi will cost around €30 or more for the exact same, it can save you a lot of money and hassle.

 

Staying safe

 

Of course being a major city Barcelona has some problems. But the truth is, if you use common sense and keep a good eye on your surroundings? Then you should be fine. The city has a bad reputation for pickpockets, especially on Las Ramblas. At night time they’re are also a lot of prostitutes and people wanting to sell drugs and will try and approach you. The best bit of advice is try not to be drawn into conversation with them, a simple shake of the head or a “no thank you” as you continue to walk should do the trick. I have been twice and not had one bit of bother, but that’s not to say it doesn’t happen. Just keep a sharp mind and be conscious of your belongings and surroundings and you should be fine.

All in all but if you have an opportunity to visit this wonderful city don’t pass it up. You will honestly not be disappointed. I promise you that. Truth be told the first time when me and my friends were booking up I didn’t really fancy it. I wanted to go elsewhere, but after visiting and then revisiting again? I’d definitely put Barcelona up there as one of the best cities I have ever visited or had the pleasure to explore.

 

Educational, Uncategorized

White noise

White Noise

Ever since I was a child I have been fascinated with with different objects that give off certain sounds. For as far as I remember I would always rush down the stairs whenever the washing machine was on its final spin, sit with my back against it and drift off into a world of relaxation. This would give me the feeling that can only describe as pure ecstasy, a feeling in which I can imagine not even heroin would be able to beat. I’ve indulged myself in this practice for years now. As I’ve got older I’ve discovered many more noises which send me to planet chilled, nowadays I can’t get to sleep without the fan on in the background or listening to a washing machine on youtube. For a man who has had trouble sleeping since he was a child this gives me the ability to sleep much faster and sounder than I ever could with plain silence…

So am I weird? Despite what my friends have told me, apparently I’m not. The noises I refer to that have became a daily fix if you’d like are known simply as white noise.

So what is white noise?

 

Without getting into all the boring and long scientific explanations of white noise it can be explained as simply noises that contain many frequencies at equal intensities.

It is called white noise as a kind of reference to white light. White light is all colours, or frequencies of colours combined together. In a similar way, white noise is a combination of all the different frequencies of sound we are able to hear.

Apparently when we are in the womb, the vibrations and sounds we hear are equivalent to white noise. Have you ever saw a wain having a tantrum or crying uncontrollably and then stop instantaneously the minute the hoover or something comes on? The sounds are believed to remind us of the womb, giving us that familiar feeling of safety.

Who does it effect?

 

People who take comfort in white noise are in the millions, across the world. It is very common amongst people despite the lack of coverage it receives. I put a status on Facebook a while back about how my washing machine comforts me and to my surprise, I got around 30 likes on it! A girl I know also commented on it saying how she liked to sit with her back against it, which made me realise I was not strange and a lot of other people were exactly like me!

White noise is a fantastic way of helping you sleep as well. Thousands of people purchase white noise machines in order to help them sleep. Some people use the sounds of rain or waves crashing etc. This is also white noise. It affects so many people, so many people who don’t even realise it!

What can be classed as white noise?

 

There are so many different machines, appliances etc. that give off white noise sounds. A fan, AC units, vacuums, aeroplane engines, washing machines, car engines, radio static, industrial units, ambient sounds, fridges/freezers. The list is simply endless.

As well as the above people have developed white noise machines, and white noise apps you can download. One app in particular has had over 42,000 ratings which just shows how many people have downloaded it! If you do need white noise to sleep or to be comforted then you should check these apps or machines out. A quick search into Amazon and it brings up nearly 2000 results, so you will be spoiled for choice!

Controversy

 

A recent study showed the levels of white noise that babies are being subjected to can be harmful. I have tried to research this claim as much as I can and cannot reach an exact conclusion. There are many people/scientists saying that it can, but also a lot of them saying it is not. It should go without saying however if you are listening to white noise or your child/baby is then you should listen to it at a safe level. Just like music, if you listen to it with the volume way up there is a chance you can damage your hearing or in worst case end up with tinnitus! Listen to either at a normal level, and you should be ok. I have been using white noise daily for more than ¾ of my life and my hearing is good. I went for a medical recently and that confirmed this.

If like myself you do find comfort in white noise, just remember you are not weird and you are certainly not alone. If white noise does affect you or you have any questions then please get in contact with me or leave a comment, I would love to hear from you!