The 2018 Round Up
2018 has been a MINUTE hasn’t it. I can’t believe the year is nearly over, it feels like it’s flown by - but also so much has changed for me over the last 12 months, and I wanted to write some of it down so that I can take stock and focus on what I’d like to achieve in 2019. There have been some amazing HIGHS and some really challenging LOWS, but I’m proud of the fact that I’ve made it through. Here’s my 2018 in a nutshell.
I welcomed in the new year with three of my favourite people, Sarah, Becky and my Auntie Clare. I promised myself that I’d put my mind first this year, a journey I’d already started in 2017.
I visited my GP to talk about my hallucinations and flashbacks
I jetted off to my all time Happy Place, Orlando - honestly this holiday was one of the highlights of my life.
I spent the first half of February in Orlando, specifically Universal Studios - which is my favourite place in the world and my ultimate antidote to all the stress and tension in life.
On February 1st, I celebrated 1 year of knowing Billie Geena, one of the funniest and cutest people I’ve ever had the good fortune of knowing.
I spoke to my GP about medication, he didn’t feel it would be the right option for me - instead we spoke about the waiting list I was on for talk therapy.
At the end of the month I was signed off from work because I found the pressure was getting to me, work was making my PTSD worse and PTSD meant I was no longer able to do my job as well as I should have. I look back and realise that my employer should have done more to support me, as I made them very aware that I was struggling, but it can’t be helped now.
I left my full time job for good in March, finding that the emotional freedom was refreshing - but that the financial pressure was almost equally tough on my mental health.
I started to become afraid of leaving the house, fearing that strangers (men in particular) would attack me. I stayed in close communication with my doctor in this time and was referred for a psych assessment.
On March 4th I relaunched the pigletish podcast (then “pigletish talks”) with an episode about the anxiety around online dating - where Sarah and I debated how mental illness affected our romantic prospects.
I also celebrated my 28th birthday (I low-key HATE birthdays)
Sadly in March I lost a family member, we weren’t close, but it was a result of his mental health and it was something I found really difficult to deal with
I had a panic attack, which I documented live on Twitter - including sharing multiple photos of myself crying, when just hours before I’d been uploading highlight reel selfies.
In April I started really turning my work in mental health awareness up a notch and started working regularly on the podcast, as well as trying to empower other people to speak up
I wrote a piece about taking care of our mental health basics - which encourages people to celebrate the “little wins” such as being able to leave the house etc.
I also had my first ever podcast guest, Jake Tyler; someone who had inspired me so much when I was at some of my lowest points.
I also talked to Antony Butcher, Rock Band Desert Storm and recorded a Happy Birthday Sarah 3 part special of the podcast that was split over 3 days.
In April I received an e-mail from Stephen Fry’s PA to say that she had tried to contact me, following my letter to Stephen Fry and that he was proud of the work I was doing.
In May it was Mental Health awareness week and I recorded daily podcasts to raise awareness for those living with mental health conditions, Sarah and I also featured on the awesome “Tag Me In” podcast.
Virtually unable to leave the house in Sheffield, I reconnected with an old friend from school and my maternal grandparents and started to spend more and more time in the small North Wales town I grew up in. I realised that, when geographically distanced from my abuser and the city in which the abuse took place, I found myself able to enjoy life beyond the comfort of my own home. I started going back to North Wales more and more and also took up running and walking barefoot - this was probably the period of time I was most focused on my recovery.
In June I shared a tweet about mental illness that got over 29,000 likes - it was my first experience of my content going “viral” and was pretty overwhelming. It also brought me a bunch of new podcast guests and online friends and really helped me build a strong support network online. It’s always comforting to know that I’m not alone in my experiences.
My offline world became increasingly difficult, particularly as I felt unable to leave my home very easily, and I found myself having to call the Samaritans to talk about suicidal thoughts in mid-June.
Just days before the 9th anniversary of my mum’s death, Hattie Gladwell wrote a piece about my relationship with her and what it was like to grow up with a mum who had Borderline Personality Disorder in the metro. Even though I didn’t write the piece, I couldn’t have trusted any other journalist to handle this with as much kindness and thought as Hattie did. It was a difficult subject to talk about, but I knew it was important.
I made the decision in July to leave Sheffield and so handed in my notice for the house I was renting. I hoped that putting some distance between myself and Sheffield would help me get control over my life back.
I took a break from the podcast and did very little work on the blog, while I sorted out the move from Sheffield. I had decided to move to Cardiff, so I could be in Wales, but also be within a couple of hours to my Dad’s house - I’d been in Sheffield for 10 years and it had been tough being so far away from my family.
I featured on BBC Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour on August 7th - I was talking about the rise in self harm in young women, you can listen to the interview here.
Leaving Sheffield was absolutely heart wrenching, and I felt the familiar call of the “spiral” and unfortunately indulged it. I had many drunken nights, my first sexual experience since being free from the abusive relationship (an ill-advised threesome) and relapsed into self harm. I shouldn’t have made ANY decisions while I was so emotionally turbulent, but unfortunately I’ve always been pretty headstrong and the people around me at the time didn’t recognise that I was having a breakdown and thought that I was just enjoying myself. This period of time left scars (some visible, some not) that set my recovery back even further.
I moved in with my dad for a couple of weeks and started channelling all my pent up stress and anxiety into art and I started painting again.
I found my PTSD was at it’s worst in August, and I struggled to find a way to trust the people in my life, which is one of the major symptoms - this is still something I am struggling with now.
In September, I moved to Cardiff.
I also went on a week’s holiday to Cornwall with my family, where we went to visit Jamaica Inn (the setting of one of my favourite books of all time) and I got to spend plenty of time by the sea.
I also started working on Series 2 of the Pigletish Podcast, which was launched in October.
I launched Series 2 of the podcast and also set up a self care challenge called #SelfCareTogether, which helped us all support each other in maintaining our mental health. The sense of community was truly wonderful and I can’t thank everyone who joined in enough - you gave me so much hope.
Unfortunately, my mental health was not in a good place in October, I don’t think I had recovered from August (maybe I still haven’t) and I found October really hard.
I also found out in October 2018 that I was shortlisted for Digital Champion at the Mind Media Awards - and that I’d actually BE IN A ROOM WITH STEPHEN FRY.
You can also hear me talking to Maddi Mathon about my PTSD on her podcast “My Bitter Insanity”
OH, AND I dressed my dog up as Ariana Grande and it was everything.
In November I shared project #CareLetters with you guys and you helped me spread some joy around the world.
I also spoke to the Time To Change Young Champions at “Story Camp”, where I met some incredible speakers, employees and young champions and stood up and told my mental health journey in a room full of people, for the first time ever (you can see some of the photos from the day, and some 2018 highlights over on instagram)
I also got to go to the Mind Awards with my friends and family and got to meet some incredible advocates and people, and BTW Stephen Fry called me his “old friend” in a room full of people. What. The. Fuck. Needless to say, I cried.
I also started working on my first ever collection of mental health awareness merchandise, which you can browse here.
Obviously December isn’t quite over yet (I can’t wait for Christmas to be out of the way though honestly), but so far this month I’ve been recording podcasts, meeting amazing advocates, filming videos, LAUNCHING MERCH OMG WHAT and preparing to host Christmas for my family.
I know some of these “achievements” are actually pretty big fails for some people (relapses, etc), but I’m proud of myself for getting through such a turbulent year and honestly I just hope that 2019 is less eventful…
So what can you expect from me in 2019?
Well, honestly - I never like to prepare you guys to “expect” anything too specific, because I’ve found that PTSD is very unpredictable and that my recovery should ALWAYS come first.
But, in the new year, I promise you will be seeing more videos, hearing more podcasts and seeing more projects from me. I’m going to be writing blog posts less frequently, but I’ll still be putting out content AND most importantly: I’m going to be re-focusing on getting my recovery back on track (hopefully that will include some professional support!)
What do you have planned for 2019? I’d love to know. Bonus points if your goals are self care/recovery related.