‘Tis The Season – #3 Guest Post by Anxiety_Sugarr

During the darker, colder seasons I noticed that my mental wellbeing and BPD gets affected a lot. The weather change tends to mess with my routines (like sleeping schedule and energy levels) plus I tend to eat and drink more as my routine isn’t in order.

I’ve realised that I need to keep a to-do list more often around this time. Sometimes I’ll even include on there “eat lunch/shower/brush teeth” just to try and encourage me to set a better routine.

However, I must admit that the hardest part is the holidays/Christmas. For someone who has no contact/negative energy with family members, the holiday period tends to set off a lot of negative emotions and memories. Now I try to combat that by focusing more on new years. Creating goals and wishes for the new year to create a new start. It helps distract my focus from the negativity of Christmas.

I’ve been spending the holidays with my boyfriends family and it’s really helped. If you’re like me and need help during these times, stay with whoever you can to ensure your mental wellbeing stays intact.

In conclusion, focus on what brings you joy around these times. Hot chocolate, candles, blanket on blanket snuggles. Those little things are good for when negativity is building and combat that. On the larger scale, the bigger situations need clear analysis and changes. Delving deeper into what in particular brings on negativity and finding alternatives. This is always good to do with someone so you have a second opinion. Don’t be afraid to have a helping hand during the holidays.



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‘Tis The Season – #2 My experience with low moods and dark thoughts during winter by @TheAnxiousTeac2

CW: Mentions of suicidal ideation and abuse in this post. Please proceed with care.



I feel as if my mind, body and soul turns into that Sean Bean #WinterIsComing Game of Thrones meme every time the season changes. As if I need to not just physically prepare myself with hot water bottles, woolly blankets and socks oh and the extra cosy thickened jumpers just to survive the lacklustre central heating at work. I also find myself needing to mentally prepare myself as well.

I remember a previous employer saying that winter turns us all into depressing monsters cause of the cold, everyone is infecting everyone with sickness bugs and lastly, it gets darker earlier. The one thing I took from that lecture? That I was a monster, yeah cool thanks! No wonder you tried to force me out of my job due to my Mental Health.

I have borderline personality disorder and I will admit I do struggle a lot with changing seasons, well change in any format to be honest. As soon as it becomes 5pm and its pitch black outside my inner thoughts just scream out: ‘Oh hell noooo!’ kind of like Kevin Hart when Jimmy Fallon forced him onto that roller-coaster. I do not like change.

Don’t get me wrong I really like Christmas, I love everything to do with that holiday, the presents, the tree and decorations, the markets, the food, the movies, the music, the television specials.

Everything else about winter? Not as much.

Looking back over the years and to even how I’m feeling right at this moment with regards to the changing of seasons, winter brings me a lot of personal pain. Last Christmas in particular as soon as the presents were handed out all I wanted to do was to hide away, I didn’t want to fake holiday cheer, throughout that winter I was constantly battling my darkest thoughts because all I wanted to do was to end it all – I wasn’t sleeping at all during November/December/January etc. and I was battling with constant threats of violence and defending myself from physical abuse at work.  

So maybe my ex-boss was right in her assumptions, winter turned me into a depressing monster.

When you don’t see or feel love or even have access to that emotion it only makes sense for the mood to disperse. I remember when having to go up to my in-laws at the time and all I wanted to do was slit my throat with the turkey carver, my mind could no longer cope or handle the abuse being said towards me. 2019 has been one pretty shitty year for me, so I feel as if I do need to prepare myself for Christmas and Winter this year.  I honestly don’t think I can survive another horrible event.

So how am I going to do this?

  1. Start Christmas shopping early, I mean I love shopping so this isn’t really that big of an issue for me
  2. Remind myself the things I previously loved about this season by watching classic Christmas movies and to not question myself or listen to hate when I decide to put my tree up at the start of November
  3. Take zero work home. Home is to relax, it is supposed to be a safe place and if I want to go to sleep at 6pm so I can be fully refreshed for the next day: I CAN!
  4. Remember to wear thicker clothing, pick out work outfits the night before that way its ok to hit snooze a few times in the morning
  5. Treat myself to a hot breakfast treat from McDonalds or Greggs on the way into work on a super cold day! Turn the chilliness into a positive
  6. Families love you unconditionally no matter your faults, sometimes it’s best to cut negative people out of your life and to focus on those who do care
  7. EAT AS MUCH FOOD AS I WANT!!!! You can always go back to the gym after Christmas, those chocolate variety boxes just will not eat themselves anyways
  8. Treat myself to something from the sales, I deserve it for surviving another year
  9.  Remember to take your meds! Something I ALWAYS struggle to do
  10. Just remember that its ok to ask for help or to just talk in general, if you can’t do it in person reach out via texting apps or even social media

So hopefully, by following those steps maybe I can survive this coming winter and to tackle those low moods and dark thoughts head on!

I hope you enjoyed my guest post and I want to say a massive thank you to Kerstin as well!

Love,
Leo x

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‘Tis The Season – #1 Being sick and mentally ill by @MadSocialWerker

Every year without fail, I get sick. And I mean sick; a long dragged out cold or flu where I have a fever, night sweats, gunk covered throat, clogged ears, and fever hallucinations.
This cold or flu slowly creeps on me and then unleashes itself on me and my system.
If you are thinking ‘system’? Does she mean her immune system? Well, yes, but I’m also talking about the five other people I share my body with.

                        Six people one body – sounds like the premise of a bad porn skit.

I have Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID), formerly known as Multiple Personality Disorder. A disorder that is characterised by the disruption of identity in which there are two or more distinct identity states (dissociative identities or streams of consciousness [personalities]) associated with marked discontinuities in the sense of self and agency.  This is a very roundabout scientific way of saying, the brain compartmentalised to cope with trauma(s) that occurred between the ages of 2-9.

I currently have five alters; Zacherie, Heinrich, Shoshanna, Alis and Roux. And as you can imagine, we all have our own experiences and mental health struggles. While I can talk about my experiences of being sick and mental health struggles with season changes, I cannot speak for them. So this article will be divided into six perspectives. We are starting with mine.

My name is Bethany; I’m a 30-year-old cis queer woman. I live in Toronto, Canada, where I am a social worker, sex therapist and mental health advocate. Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) is my primary diagnosis, but I also struggle with complex post-traumatic stress disorder, dysthymia (which is a fancy way of saying persistent depression), obsessive-compulsive disorder and social anxiety.

I would have to say autumn is by far my favourite season and winter is my least favourite. I enjoy the communal family-like holidays in autumn – thanksgiving, Christmas, Hannukah, and New Years. However, it’s after the holidays, my mental health takes a steep decline, and this is when I tend to get the most colds or cases of flu. And I’m not too fond of it.

I hate how out of control it makes me feel being mentally and physically sick. Especially when the fever hallucinations start, and I know they are temporary but being that sick and unable to tell the difference between what is safe or a threat is very alarming. And when you are sick, you don’t want your brain to try to convince you that you’re still at work. In my opinion, THE WORST HALLUCINATION ON THE PLANET!

When my mental health is already a bit fragile, I’m already starting to neglect things like hygiene. So I’m just stumbling around my home in a duvet and greasy hair re-watching Bob’s Burgers until someone forces me into the shower or bath.


My name is Zacherie, but I go by Zache. I am a 30-year cis lesbian, and I am an alter. My role in our system is that of a Protector.
I protect Bethany and others from harm. I take my job very seriously, to the point where Bethany and I have had screaming matches about certain things. I suspect I have Borderline Personality Disorder, and when I have a flare-up, I feel everything so intensely that sometimes that affects others too. So if Bethany is sick and not taking care of herself, it makes me feel so much worse.

Then I have to force us to take a shower or a bath, do some laundry, eat something, and the stud you’re supposed to do when you’re sick. It’s the only way I can start to feel better emotionally and mentally, and sometimes others don’t understand.


My name is Shoshanna, and I am ten years old. I don’t really have a role, because I’m 10! But I don’t like it when it is winter, I don’t like the cold, but I love making snow angels. Summer is my favourite season because I can go to the park and I don’t get sick.

When Bethy gets sick, I get sick and then I can’t play. She and Zache get into fights about having a bath, I don’t like having baths when I’m sick because I’m always cold. When I’m cold, I’m sad, so I cry a lot.


My name is Heinrich, and I am 21-year-old, cis straight man. Shoshanna is my sister. My role in the system is that of a persecutor. Persecutors get much hate, but really we are misguided protectors.

When Bee gets sick, I’m usually ill too. And I often don’t feel like doing anything, and because I am a smoker, I’ll be coughing for weeks. And because I had endocarditis when I was doing heroin, every cold or bout of flu has the potential to reinflame the scarring in our heart valve, which could cause Bee’s heart murmur (something she was born with) to worsen or cardiac arrest.

There’s a lot I regret in my life, but this? This is my biggest regret, and every time we get sick, I worry we won’t wake up again. My addiction to heroin, while borne out of a need to stay energised through school, the consequences weren’t worth it. Please, please get your flu shot, or stay home if you’re sick.


At the time of writing this, both Roux and Alis declined to provide their perspective on what it means to be mentally ill and sick. This is not to say their stories are not relevant or any less valid. Someone you may know may have DID or any of its subsets. You can’t tell their story, even if you are a part of their story. A bit of compassion, self-awareness and kindness goes a long way for the welfare of others.



Author Bio:

Bethany Killen-Ashryver (she/her) is a forensic and clinical social worker with Dissociative Identity Disorder in Toronto, Canada.  Between her academic career, the needs of her system and her latest adventure; the Dissociative Society of Canada, Bethany is always ready to listen, especially over some iced chai. To learn more about her and her system, you can read her blog at www.themadsocialworker.com.

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To learn more about & donate to the Dissociative Society of Canada: Here 

‘Tis The Season – A preview

Good evening everyone,

This post will be a little different from my usual ones. I would like to introduce you to a new series that I will be starting on my blog very soon. It is very well known that the winter months and the holidays can have a variety of different effects on people’s mental health and for some these months may be harder to cope with than other times of the year.

The series, titled ” ‘Tis The Season”, will feature guest posts from various authors from all walks of life who were willing to share with me their own very personal experiences on how the cold months affect them and their mental health. The main aim of this series is to highlight just how subjective Mental Health and Mental Illness can be and that there’s no ‘one size fits all’ when it comes to the symptoms and feelings that people may experience.

The series will be ongoing over the winter months, so there may be some week with more posts – others with less, all depending on how many people are up to contribute. I believe it is great to give others a chance to share their own thoughts and experiences, especially when they may not always be able to do so otherwise.

I am hoping to launch the series sometime next week and I look forward to hearing all your feedback on it!

Much love,
Kerstin

I hurt myself and nobody noticed!

CW: This post contains mentions of self harm and disordered eating. Do NOT read if you are triggered or negatively affected by these topics.






When we talk about the topic of self harm, the first thing a lot of people would probably think about is blades and the act of cutting oneself. Most people only know of this one method that people may use to hurt themselves. But the truth is that there are so so many more – lots of them not at all visible to another person. Over the course of a few years I too have hurt myself, despite never having touched a blade.

I am writing this post not for sympathy, but to raise awareness of the more subtle ways a person could use to harm themselves and how you could possibly help them. Why did I do it? Many reasons, some things I did purely to feel something when I went through periods of absolute emotional numbness. Other times I felt the need to punish myself for doing certain things or reacting to situations in certain ways. And then some things I did without even knowing that they were harmful to myself – to me they were just coping mechanisms at the time and made me feel better for a short period of time.

Scratching

Probably one of the physically most destructive ways I used to hurt myself was by excessive scratching. Whenever I had let my emotions built up for too long it was pretty much inevitable that I would eventually need to find and outlet for them. And most often that outlet were my arms or thighs or breasts. I used to scratch them until they bled, almost like in a frenzy I couldn’t stop until I felt I had punished myself enough. And yes, these scratches were visible, very much so and sometimes people would comment on them. But as opposed to actual cuts, these scratches were much easier to ‘explain’ or ‘justify’. I would say that my cat had caused them or that I had an allergic reaction. As irrational as it may sound it gave me a form of outlet without the pressure of making people overly concerned.

Excessive Drinking

Whilst these scratches were obviously pretty visible many of my other self sabotages weren’t. For a period of over 2 months I used to be drunk almost every day. I used the alcohol to drown out all the mixed emotions I felt after a bad break up. I didn’t want to feel or think for that matter. Looking back now I realise how damaging this kind of behaviour was to myself. Not only did I do nothing but spend most of my days in bed, I lost interest in things I enjoyed, I isolated myself from friends, I became angry and aggressive. Not to mention all the toxins I put into my body in such a short amount of time. But at the time it felt like the right thing to do, it helped me cope with a situation that I didn’t know how else to cope with.

Restricting food / Overeating

Restricting food and/or over eating were another way in wich I had done myself no good. Getting bullied in my teenage years, mostly due to my appearance, I soon became obsessed with the idea that I had to be skinny in order for me to be deserving of respect. Months of internet searches led to a downward spiral of counting calories, saving “thinspo” pictures on my laptop and ended in an extremely toxic cycle of restricting food for sometime, then ultimately giving in and binge eating – followed by guilt until the whole thing repeated itself. Over and over again. At the time it seemd like the only logical thing to do, it seemed like this was the way I had to go to finally be accepted by others. Little did I know how much I was putting my body through.

Overspending

When I just started out in my first job I didn’t realise how hard budgeting actually is. I would spend money on things I didn’t actually need which left my bank account in overdraft almost every month to the point that I had almost nothing left after having paid the necessary bills. Yet I kept impulsively buying things. I was addicted to that little rush of joy you get when you buy something new. It made me feel alive, if only for a while. In the long run it put me in a lot of trouble financially that I am still dealing with to this day.

People pleasing

Probably one of the biggest things I did to sabotage myself was ALWAYS putting everyone else’s needs before mine. Whether it was a stranger or friend or a family member. I always put myself last, even when I was in an awful place mentally I would make sure that other people’s needs were met before even considering my own ones. I know now that a lot of this behaviour stems from values that I had internalised during my childhood but I can say that it has seriously affected the way I socialise and behave around other people now. And whilst I am slowly learning to put my own needs above all I still find myself slipping back into old patterns sometimes.

These are just a few ways of self harming that may not be very obvious at first glance. Others might include:

  • Overexercising
  • Using blunt objects to harm oneself (i.e. headbanging, ligaturing)
  • Avoiding seeing a doctor when ill
  • Gambling
  • Purposefully reading/watching things that trigger or upset a person
  • Purposefully wearing the wrong type of clothes (for example underdressing in cold weather so one would constantly be cold)
  • Entering toxic relationships or staying in them
  • Burning onself for example with too hot water

These things are not always visible but they are all diffetent forms of self harm. We like to associate self harm with only visible cuts but there is so much more to it than just physical injury.

What can you do to help someone who you suspect might be harming themselves in one way or another?

First of all, I would advise you to be discrete. Often people already feel guilty or ashamed of having done things to harm themselves. It’s always a good idea to ask them how they are feeling at the moment and then actively listen. Instead of blaming them, ask HOW you can help them. Ask what they need, offer a non judgemental space for them to vent. It’s often very hard to break habits that might have persisted for years. Trying to just get people to stop doing these things could possibly result in it all just getting worse. You can offer to help them look into counselling or therapy options or help them find some online resources. Remember, you can’t help everyone and it’s not your job to do so. But you can always offer to listen and try your best to understand their situation. Sometimes that alone could help a person more than you might think.

Much love, Kerstin

Nature Therapy – 5 outdoor activities that will help calm your mind and are completely free!

Nature is truly wonderful. There is so much beauty and peacefulness to be found in our immediate surroundings. But with our increasingly busy lifestyles these things may be easy to miss sometimes. So often we are caught up running from one job to another, trying to meet deadlines, reply to emails, get hung up about the amount of likes we receive on a post. Our life is happening so rapidly around us, sometimes we forget to take break, step back for a moment and just do nothing.

I found that spending time outside for a least a few minutes, maybe half an hour each day has helped me massively in regards to my mental health. When things get too much or I’m overwhelmed, I go out to get some fresh air and it really calms my mind! Especially now with autumn being my favourite season I enjoy it even more! So I thought, I’d share a few of my top outdoor activities that can really help you take a break and find a bit more calmness in your life!

1. Walk/Hike – There’s nothing special about this. Often I will just put on some music and walk for as long as I am able to. It helps me take my mind of things that are bothering me and when I get back home I am able to tackle things with a clear mind and new focus. Sometimes our lives get so messy we have this massive jumble of thoughts in our heads of things we should or shouldn’t do and I find that just going for a nice walk always helps me to just take a break from it all. Hell, sometimes I even have a little sing along to whatever I am listening to!

2. Listen/Meditate – sometimes I purposefully don’t put on any music at all. I just go out and actively listen to my surroundings. I listen to the waves of the river flowing by, to birdsong and to the wind rustling through the leaves. It’s a great way to shift your focus from yourproblems to something completely different. I listen to my own breathing and often I sit, close my eyes and just meditate for a moment.

3. Go barefoot – This is a great way to really experience nature. Just take your shoes of and go barefoot for a while and allow yourself to FEEL. It’s a wonderful way of grounding and really taking in your surroundings. Just walk and feel the earth beneath you with all it’s different terrains and shapes and temperatures. There’s something quite magical about doing this.

4. Collect something/Forage – I’ve made it my mission to bring little things back from my walks outside. Most often these are bird feathers that I may turn into dream catchers and other little crafty things Sometimes it’s conkers or stones that I find pretty. Mother nature has blessed us with an abundance of gifts to take away and it’s a great way to get creative too!

5. Get lost – Now, by that I don’t me walk off aimlessly until you can’t find your way back home. Much more, try and find some new places to explore and just absorb your surroundings. Get lost in the moment, so to speak. I always find that when I get to explore a new area there is so much energy and peacefulness that I experience. Discovering new little ways that nature decides to display its unique beauty. And there is so much of it, you just gotta get out to see it!

Of course there are plenty of other things that you can do outside. These are just my favourites. And if you can’t go out for whatever reason, please know that that’s absolutely okay too. We all have different ways to relax and find some calmess in the storms of our everyday lives, you do what works best for you!

What are your favourite things to do outside? Do you enjoy going out as much as I do? Let me know in the comments!

Much love, Kerstin

Self Care Sunday – Let’s cook!

Self care can come in many forms. One of these forms, for me, is cooking and baking. I know, for others this may seem like a massive chore and I understand that it very well can be if you’re mentally, chronically or otherwise ill. For me however cooking had always been something that I was fascinated with from a very early age on. I would always hover around the kitchen watching my mum and gran cook and every so often they’d let me help too!

Fast forward a few years and I was always experimenting with different foods in the kitchen. Mind you, my mum must have hated me sometimes. Not only because of the mess but also because of the outright strange flavour combinations I must have served her! I still find great fun in playing around with flavours and pairing things that you usually might not want to eat together, it’s always a bit of a gamble if something will turn out or not.

These Rosemary and Apple Macarons were one of my all time favourite weird flavour combos!

One reason why Cookery for me is such a big act of self care is because I know I can be as creative as I like. I can just try things out without boundaries or restrictions and I can just let my creativity run wild. I was never one to follow recipes, I use them more as an inspiration and then always try to create something myself! It’s a great feeling when you get to create something and you go through all these steps and in the end you’re left with something that you made and that (hopefully) tastes great as well!

I particularly love baking breads. Kneading dough is actually a great way to let out some anger and stress. The great thing here is, that if I mess up it won’t cost me the world to start over and with baking there’s always something you can learn from it. If a loaf doesn’t turn out, I know what to improve next time. It’s a great way to also keep researching different techniques and recipes and it helps me keep my mind occupied, especially when I’m having a bad day.

One of my go to recipes that I will always make whenever I need a bit of comfort food are homemade chocolate chip cookies. Grabbing one when they’re still hot out of the oven and topping it with a bit of ice cream – heavenly! They’re easy to make, you really only need one bowl and even on a day where you might not have the most energy they can be a nice little sweet treat that’s done in minutes!

Do you enjoy cooking/baking? Let me know some of your favourite meals! If you dn’t enjoy cooking what are your favourite self care tips?

I’ll also leave my recipe for super easy, deliciously soft baked chocolate chip cookies for you to try out! Please let me know how they turn if if you do decide to make them!

All mixed together in one bowl and placed on a lined baking tray – goodness in minutes!

I wish you all the best on this Sunday evening and I hope that you can find some time to practise some self care tonight – whatever that may be!

Much love,
Kerstin