22 things I have learnt and accepted.

As I approach my 22nd birthday, I have spent many hours reflecting on this past year and it has overwhelmed me with various emotions. I really have been on a rollercoaster journey (sorry not sorry about the cliche), since coming out of hospital, but I wouldn't change the way it has worked out even if I had a choice.

When I turned 21 I was still fresh out of St. Andrews hospital and I look back and see that I was hiding behind my doubts and insecurities 90% of the time. I knew what I wanted to get from my recovery and I knew what I needed to do to get there but at times it felt like the biggest challenge I was yet to face.

Although I love a challenge, nothing could fully prepare me for this one.

At times I felt scared to take charge of my own recovery as I was worried I would make too many mistakes and/or relapse but with the help of my community mental health team and loving family I was able to eventually stand on my own two feet and get to the place I'm in today. After all of the challenges I have faced this past year, I feel like I have finally entered a healthy mindset and have developed the skills I need to continue making progress and making a life worth living.

I have learnt many lessons since last May, and made many mistakes, but they have allowed me to fully blossom and I can finally say with confidence that I am proud of the person I have become.

So with all of that being said, in honour of turning 22 and celebrating my birthday out of hospital for the second year running, I have compiled a list. This list contains a mixture of things I initially found very difficult to accept but they are also things that my younger self deserved to hear...

1) You're not going to be liked by everyone.
2) You DO NOT need to weigh yourself everyday.
3) The size of your clothes doesn't matter and the number on the scale doesn't define your beauty.
4) You do not need to wear makeup everyday to feel beautiful.
5) You are worthy.
6) You will have your heart broken multiple times before you find true love. You WILL find true love.
7) You will want to quit but don't - It will be worth it.
8) It is ok to say no, it doesn't make you a bad person.
9) Tequila will NEVER be your friend, ever.
10) You were given a voice for a reason.
11) Do things for you not anybody else.
12) Not every opinion you have needs to be shared with others.
13) You will make mistake but don't let them eat away at you. Learn from them.
14) You don't need to hold onto toxic friendships just because you once shared happy memories.
15) Being honest gets your further than you realise.
16) Will you regret sending that long ass text in the heat of the moment when you're angry? The answer is yes, yes you will!
17) Put your phone down and look around. Life is too short to live through a screen.
18) If you are able walk away from a situation to avoid confrontation, always walk away.
19) It is completely normal to get attached, but it is also healthy to let go.
20) You do not need permission to prioritise your mental well-being over college/work.
21) Asking for help is a sign of strength NOT weakness.
22) Recovery is worth it.

Hello, I'm back.

I know I know, you’re probably wondering where I’ve been… Trust me time has just flown by and I have had the busiest 6 months since my last update! But I am so excited to tell you all why.

So hello I’m back (cue the party poppers and champagne).
On The 27th February, I celebrated being free from hospital for a whole year and it was a day that I anxiously awaited. I came out of hospital feeling motivated and ready to recover and I kept the promise to myself to work damn hard to stabilise my mental well-being. And I have. There have been bumps in the road, understandably, however I’ll get into that a bit later in this post.

Whilst in hospital, I made a long list of goals of things I wanted to do/achieve when I was discharged. Some things were smaller things and some things on the list where things I have dreamt of achieving for the past 7 years. The list was so long so I wont write down everything, but here are the bigger things that I have achieved from February 2018 until now:

  • I fell in love with the cutest guy EVER and he makes me so beyond happy. The past 8 and a half months have been amazing having him by my side.
  • I also started doing the Access to Higher Education social science course at college which consists of psychology, sociology and criminology and I am only 6 weeks away from finishing and getting my final grades.
  • I went on my dream holiday to Rome (with my bf) and it was everything I expected and more.
  • I moved into my own flat. After years of hospital admissions and months of being in a supported accommodation, I moved into my flat with the help from my family and friends and it is now all homely. I totally feel like an adult now… lol I also got over excited about getting new cutlery sets and buying a new hoover??
  • I also started volunteering as a Therapy Assistant in the hospital where I spent time as a patient (And I LOVE it!!). I feel grateful to be given this opportunity because it has really helped me decide that being an Occupational Therapist is what I want to do as a career.
  • In October 2018, I ran the Manchester ½ marathon and in 2 hours and 35 minutes! I am so unbelievable proud of myself considering by mile 11 I wanted to just give up. But I was running in memory of my friend Kayley and I managed to raise over £400 for Mind so giving up was not an option. Crossing that finish line was the most emotional yet empowering moment of my life to this date.
  • I passed my driving test in November. The freedom I have now is amazing and I never imagined whilst being detained under the mental health act for 2 years of my life that I’d ever feel free again. Every time I get into my car I have a few seconds of realisation that the freedom I have now literally at my fingertips was due to hard work and perseverance.
  • Lastly and most exciting of all, I have been accepted into University by both Northampton and Coventry to study Occupational Therapy which I will start in September. Northampton as my first choice and Coventry as my back up.

After years of these things just being a list of goals to achieve ‘eventually’, I am proud to say that I have achieved so many. Ticking these off one by one during my first year of recovery has been the most fulfilling thing and is a constant reminder of why I keep fighting.

So despite having the most amazing year so far in recovery, there have also been periods of time where I have felt unmotivated, had dips in the road and lost sight of where I was going. (Which is more than ok).
Some days I question my worth, and I breakdown due to the stress and pressure of education and I get overwhelming feelings of being unworthy of love and support. In these times I have to make a conscious effort to remind myself that these feeling and intense thoughts are temporary.
I feel like you have to hit those low points in life to then be able to enjoy the higher points.

Overall, this year has been a year of growth, acceptance and at times deep sadness, but I have learnt so much about myself and my journey along the way and I feel so mentally ready to continue challenging life.
Each day that goes by I remind myself that I am Taneesha and my mental health will NOT define me. I am in control.
Please also remember; your mental health does not define you either, you are YOU and no one/no mental illness can take that away from you.

Keep growing.
Keep achieving.
and remember… YOU are worthy of recovery.


Let’s get honest.

Let’s get real and honest. I’m not going to sit and pretend the past 3 weeks have been easy because for the first time in a long time they haven’t been. I spent nearly a week in bed feeling numb and isolated and it literally came out of nowhere! I can’t pretend that ‘I don’t know why I felt like this’ because there are a few reasons and some of which I don’t feel comfortable going into right now but one things for sure, it was shit. I slipped into a state of depression that led me to abandoning my personal care, ignoring family and friends and left me with the biggest puffiest bags under my eyes. This also resulted in me losing my appetite (which also led to my eating disorder thoughts creeping back in… see how things can easily spiral?).

I felt completely powerless and confused because ‘how can I be so depressed when there’s so many positive things happening in my life right now’… well that’s the shit thing about depression, you can have the world at your feet and still feel broken. Sucks huh! I’m lucky that this episode of depression didn’t last for more than a week because quite frankly it was exhausting! With that being said, and a lot of encouragement from good friends I managed to drag myself out of bed and start to make small but effective changes. It was a slow process but I reassured myself that even if I took 100 baby steps to get to my end goal (which was to basically to function like a 'normal' human again) then at least I got there. No matter how long it took.
Since then I’ve made a conscious effort to surrounded myself with positive people and situations and although that doesn’t solve all my problems, it is definitely refreshing. Despite that crappy week I do have many exciting things happening in my life right now including new job opportunities and little things here and there to help me better myself and my outlook on the future. So despite feeling lost for a while I feel like I'm being guided back to a good place. One of many important lessons I have learnt in the past year is that having self-belief and compassion towards yourself is the most precious thing you can reward yourself with… Trust me!
I want to end this post by saying that, it IS ok to not be ok and I’m not here to judge how you deal with the situations life throws at you. What I am here to tell you though is that things DO get better and sometimes, although it’s hard to admit, perseverance in recovery is key.

The books that saved my life.

In honour of mental health awareness week, I could sit here and write a long blog post about my opinions on mental health and all the facts concerning the stigma, however that has all been done before and I’m sure you’ve read them a thousand times. Instead I want this post to be dedicated to a few of my favourite self-help / inspirational books that I always reach for to get me through some of the difficult times I experience on my own mental health journey. I also hope this post will inspire you to pick up these books yourself and enjoy them as much as I do! (unless you have read them already of course).

1) Reasons to stay alive – Matt Haig

For me this book changed my life and it holds a special place in my heart. I brought this book back when I was a patient in my first mental health hospital and it was the first ‘self-help’ book I had ever picked up. I was drawn instantly by the fact Matt was so open about his depression and his thoughts around taking medication and I felt the pain of being in very similar dilemmas, but also whilst reading, I began craving survival.
It’s incredible how reading this book made me feel less alone.
The chapters are short and easy to read, so I felt like even in a dark place I didn’t have to focus too much to get the full effect of what was being said.
I have re-read this book hundreds of times and I always finish the book in complete awe of Matt’s strength and determination!

2) Mad girl – Bryony Gordon

The reason I love this book so much is the way it is written. Bryony’s way of writing about her OCD, bulimia and drug dependency went down a very comical path and even though I spent the majority of this book laughing I still sensed the seriousness and desperation that she experienced in her life. I really appreciate her determination to not give up after what seemed a lack of luck for many years and I can see a lot of myself if her personality and behaviours too. The way she is so open about her struggles with body image makes me feel incredible proud because I know that even just admitting you have a problem in that particular area is incredibly hard due to the pressure these day to look a certain way. Overall this will always be a book I pick up when I’m in need of comfort. I laugh, I cry but mostly I feel like I can get through whatever life throws at me.

3) Beautiful – Katie Piper

Every time I read or hear about this book the word that pops into my head is ‘hope’. The very first time I read this book, I felt so much sadness to read the nightmare Katie had been through and although this isn’t a self-help book as such it has really helped me. Through each chapter you could see how strong she was becoming as an individual and it really helped me understand the process of acceptance to. (Acceptance is blooming hard and it takes lots of practise to master)
One of the most important messages throughout this book is centred around beauty. Katie proved to people that no matter what has happened to you physically or mentally, you ARE beautiful in your own way. Contradictory though, she also highlights that beauty isn’t everything and that health and happiness should always be your number one priority. Overall this book gave me hope that things DO get better.

4) Milk and honey – Rupi Kaur

(I want to put a trigger warning for this little section as it contains themes around sexual assault and other difficult subjects so please don’t read if you think it has potential to make you feel uncomfortable)

This collection of poems are the most raw and passionate poems I’ve read to date and although some of the content is heart-breaking to read, I feel that there would be no other way to express those situations than the way she has done. I connected to this book immensely as it takes you on a journey from hurt, love, breaking to healing and you can really begin to understand what life could be like for someone with such a difficult, diverse life. The poems do cover vulnerable topics such as rape and domestic abuse which can be difficult to digest at times so I would recommend reading it at a steady pace and not all in one go (I’ve learnt that the hard way). Nevertheless I do absolutely love how she captures culture and beauty in the midst of all the heartache and trauma.
The book can bring up lots of unexpected emotions howbeit it’s definitely one of those books to put on your ‘to read list’.  

Of course these books are not going to help everyone or even cure the symptoms you’re going through but if you can see that these people have gone through traumatic shit and survived then you can too. I know that unfortunately mental health isn’t simple or easy to understand and one blog post isn’t going to solve everything but always know that you’re not alone and things, no matter how bad they my seem at the time, DO get better.

I want to leave you with this…
NEVER be silent because we were all given a voice for a reason!