Today, I have the absolute pleasure of talking honestly to one of my favourite bloggers, Geek Magnifique! Mel is such a lovely, inspiring woman whom I met from participating in the #TalkMH chat on Twitter, which takes place every Thursday at 8:30PM.
First up, tell us a little about who you are, your interests and your favourite album of all time?
I’m Mel, a 28 year old social media executive from Bournemouth. I live with my husband Dave, am addicted to Twitter, watch too much TV and enjoy good food, music and spending time with friends. Music wise, I love Sia, Jimmy Eat World, The Skints, and Christine and the Queens. Her album has helped me through a few difficult days recently, and track six is honestly one of the most beautiful songs I’ve ever heard.
Why did you start Geek Magnifique?
I’ve always loved writing, and toyed with the idea of starting a blog for a while. Then, in 2015 I was working from home, feeling unfulfilled, and I stumbled across Hannah Gale’s blog. From there I got wrapped up in the world of blogging, but it’s probably Hannah who gave me the little kick of inspiration I needed to really go for it. It started out as a general lifestyle blog, but the more I’ve struggled with my mental health since, the more I’ve started to use it as a platform to share my experiences and raise awareness.
How do you feel mental health affected you and your life?
I’ve struggled with OCD since I was a child. It started out as rituals (counting, saying certain words, etc.) and quickly developed into compulsive handwashing. When I was about 16 I developed emetophobia (a fear of vomiting), which got worse and worse until a few years ago when it started to become unmanageable. I was starving myself at work, having panic attacks, and my overall quality of life reduced drastically.
Last year I began CBT counselling, and it brought up some huge unresolved issues from my childhood. This, together with the loss of someone close to me, the breakdown of my relationship with my parents and a growing sense of loneliness and dissatisfaction with my job pushed me to seek help from my doctor a few months ago. I’m now taking Sertraline, and am about to begin another course of high-intensity CBT to tackle my OCD and emetophobia.
What has your experience with mental health services been like?
Absolutely fantastic. My doctor was wonderful. He spent so much time answering all my questions and was kind, compassionate and supportive. My counsellor (who I saw privately) was lovely too. She honestly changed my life, and I’m not sure how I would have gotten through the last year without her.
My doctor referred me to a free service called Steps to Wellbeing, who are arranging my next course of CBT. They’ve been very helpful so far, and as far as I know there are similar services all over the UK. If you’re struggling, I’d urge you to see your doctor as there is so much help available.
As an incredible blogger, how do you feel writing has affected your mental health?
It’s such an amazing outlet for me. When it’s late at night and I can’t sleep, writing helps me to organise my thoughts. Writing has connected me to so many amazing people (like yourself!), and starting a blog is honestly one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
What motivates you as a person to keep going?
My new job, which has given me a sense of purpose again, and reminds me every day how amazing it feels to be passionate about something. And ultimately, reminding myself that things will get better and that I have an amazing support system helps me keep going.
Honestly, how do you spend the inevitable dark days?
I wrap myself in a duvet, cry, watch my favourite shows and wallow. It’s a bit of a cliché, but for me, it works. If I’m at work and I’m struggling, putting on some good music and just throwing myself into what I’m doing always makes me feel better.
Many people in the public eye are coming out as having mental health issues at the moment. What are your opinions on this?
I’m a firm believer that mental health should be an honest, open conversation, and I applaud anyone who admits they’re struggling. I only hope that soon ‘coming out’ as having issues won’t be seen as a big deal.
I do think however, that mental illness shouldn’t be talked about lightly. In particular, so many celebrities claim to have OCD, and it only fuels misconceptions and a lack of understanding.
What are your top tips for self care?
Keep food in the house that’s quick and easy to prepare. Eating a crappy microwave meal is better than not eating at all. If you need to rest, rest- it doesn’t mean you’re lazy. A hot shower or bath can do wonders.
Most importantly, it’s OK to have an off day. You’re entitled to do whatever you need to make yourself feel better, even if it’s just having a good cry. If something brings you happiness it isn’t stupid, or anything to be embarrassed about.
Any last words of wisdom?
You might feel like the old you is gone, but you’re still the same strong, fun, amazing person you always were. There is help out there and you will beat this.
Again, you can find Mel over at Geek Magnifique!