Brain Fog

This is so interesting and something I’ve only become really aware of very recently.  I have suffered with ‘brain fog’ my whole life and I still get it pretty much daily now.  It’s normally worse in the mornings but I can suffer from it all day.  It makes concentrating on anything stupidly difficult and it makes me very unproductive which is incredibly frustrating and can make me very irritable.  I procrastinate for hours at work, I find it hard to get into hobbies such as piano, sewing, reading, even having a productive conversation is difficult at times because I am so restless and unable to focus.

I found this brilliant article this week which really explains a lot about brain fog and the links to diet and mental health disorders.  It also highlights a link between inflammation (which I personally have because of my ulcerative colitis) and food intolerance (which I also have as I’m lactose intolerant).  It really has revolutionised how I’m thinking about what I put into my body and how that is affecting my mental and physical health.  This line in particular

“Nearly every cell, tissue and system in the body, especially the gut-brain connection, suffers from an unresolved sensitivity”

in regard to food intolerance’s is just staggering for me.  The body is such a well balanced machine and I’m basically messing up that balance constantly and then wondering why I don’t feel great.

Something else mentioned in the article is the link back to hormone balance and  serotonin which I’ve mentioned in my previous posts.

I would be interested to know if anyone else suffers from ‘brain fog’ and what they do to help alleviate the symptoms.  I don’t suppose it will be a quick process to completely change my diet but I am definitely going to start trying.

The more I put names to my symptoms and research these things I’ve been experiencing for years and years the more I am starting to understand my mental health and how it all fits together.  It’s just a shame it has taken me so long to get to this stage.

Has this shed any light for anyone else?  It would be so interesting to hear.  I will report back on any progress I make and if I find any effective ways of combating ‘brain fog’ I will of course share.

As always, Stay Strong xxx


OCD – Coping when you’re not 100%

So when you’re feeling on top of the world it can be relatively easy to stay on top of your mental health as well but what happens when something out of your control comes along and knocks you sideways, how are you supposed to cope?

I wouldn’t be surprised if a considerable number of people suffering from mental health issues have some sort of other health issue as well.  I personally have ulcerative colitis and I know when it flares up it definitely becomes tougher to hang onto that positive attitude which is so important in mental health recovery.

If you’re feeling generally tired/low it can be hard to find the energy to eat well, exercise or go out and see people.  If you’re unwell you might not even be able to do these things for yourself at all and through no fault of your own you can start to spiral downwards.  This has happened to me on a number of occasions and it really can turn into a vicious cycle if you’re not careful.

I feel low –  I eat badly – my stomach problems flare up –  I feel lower –  I don’t want to go anywhere – etc etc

and so I spiral down and down and the weight of it all just starts to devour me.

I’ve also learnt recently with my research into serotonin that digestive issues can effect the absorption of serotonin into the body.  So during a bad ulcerative colitis flare up this could be another factor affecting my mood and therefore recovery which I hadn’t considered before.  Looking after yourself is so important, particularly what you eat – but I realise not always easy.

So if you’re unwell and unable to get out and do all the usual fixes – exercise, socialising, etc what do you do to keep/get yourself back on track?

Well I definitely think it’s worthwhile having a think about this sort of situation before it actually occurs – if you can of course – and getting a plan of action in place.  Have a think about what you enjoy doing that is possible in the house, here are a few ideas:

  • Invite someone round
  • Phone someone who you enjoy talking to
  • Watch your favourite series
  • Read a favourite/new book
  • Listen to music/podcasts/audio books
  • Use a mindfulness app
  • If you’re creative you could draw/write/blog
  • Do your very best to avoid high sugar, quick fix foods such as takeaways, alcohol and caffeine.

If you have less time to plan and something has literally come from nowhere – maybe you’ve broken your leg – then try not to panic.  You may be fine, try to be calm and think about how you can set things up to work for you.  Long periods alone can be pretty tough to deal with for anyone but incredibly difficult for people with mental health problems, especially when you’re trying to process pain/discomfort as well.

Try to fill the time productively if you can, this always makes me feel more positive and like I’ve achieved something.  Accept that you will probably have low points but that they will pass.

Remember recovery is an ongoing process, some days will be better than others.  Maybe you could blog about your experience, get it all out.  This can be incredibly cathartic and no one else has to read it, it can just be for you.  If you do want to share your story perhaps it will help someone else in the same situation. Now that will definitely make you feel good.

As always, Stay Strong xxx


OCD – Recovery & Serotonin

I’ve talked about recovery not being a straight line quite a bit recently but it is so important to remember for anyone going through a mental illness.  You will have good days and bad days, sometimes I feel like I’ve got it all sorted, I feel positive and hopeful and I can’t even remember what it feels like to have OCD at all!  Other days my OCD can be triggered without any warning by the smallest thing, it can hit me quite suddenly and from the most random of places and this can really knock my confidence.

For times like this it’s good to have a plan of action in place and I’ve found over time it does get easier to get through these periods.  With practice, a plan, my knowledge of recovery and the methods to use I’m getting there but frustratingly for me I can’t seem to avoid my OCD completely.

Now I don’t really know anything about the brain science behind OCD but I am 100% convinced that when I get hit by my OCD, a chemical change occurs in my brain.  It’s almost like someone covers me with a black veil and I just can’t see out of it, no matter how hard I try to think positively and do all the things that are good to dismiss the thoughts, this huge veil of doubt just sits on top of me and I cannot shift it.  On top of this I find the next day I am anxious and unable to concentrate easily, my brain just won’t focus on anything and I get incredibly restless and distracted, almost like it is recovering from the affects of the previous days veil.

This happened to me just yesterday, all triggered by something in my yogurt which I didn’t recognise and there was just nothing I could do to stop it rolling in. I didn’t let the thought linger and therefore today I don’t feel the ‘doubt veil’ anymore but currently I am trying to work through the anxiety sitting in my chest and the restlessness which just won’t let me focus.  I am at work finding it really hard – hence why I am writing this rather than working.  I’m hoping by writing it down I will be able to let it go and move on but I only have so much power over the internal workings of my body unfortunately.


I haven’t mentioned medication much, if at all on this site.  I’m not a huge one for popping pills but I did try SSRI’s (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor’s) for a brief period of time.  The only thing I found they helped me with – hence why I’m bringing them up now –  was the ‘doubt veil’ which comes over me.  Logically if you don’t have that doubt, then the thoughts are easier to dismiss and recovery is easier but I think I always reasoned that I didn’t want to be on them forever and at some point I would have to face the veil myself anyway and so I stopped taking any medication a few years ago.  I do however think it has it’s place and I know it helps a lot of people through really tough times.  It’s a very personal decision.

I’m not sure if I have any advice particularly on how to fight these episodes, all I can say is by having a plan of action and trusting the tools you have to fight the thoughts, you will come out the other side quicker each time but it can be very hard when you are in the throws of a thought to believe this I know!

Natural serotonin production

We all know serotonin is the happy hormone and SSRIs are designed to stop the re-uptake of it but there are natural ways you can increase and maintain this hormone.  I’ve been doing a bit of research myself on this subject as I’m really interested in how to increase it naturally.  Here are some of the ideas I got from a quick google and the reference link they’re from if you want a bit more information:

  • Exercise
  • Diet
  • Sunshine/bright lights
  • General positivity
  • A massage
  • Reduced stress
  • Reduced sugar
  • Emotional healing
  • Focus/Sense of achievement

reference link –

Looking down the list there’s nothing particularly new here, we all know in the back of our minds whats good for us but I think when you’re feeling low it becomes incredibly hard to look after yourself properly which is of course at the exact time when you need to most.

So how to fit some of these things into your daily routine?

  • I think we all know exercise is good for us but it can sometimes be hard to get motivated particularly when you’re feeling low/out of sorts.  I am going to start with a daily walk as this knocks two of the items off the above list: exercise and sunshine.
  • I also love that general positivity is on the list, by having a more positive outlook this then comes back to you and rewards you, how wonderful.
  • I’ve recently found that a sense of achievement really helps with my overall fulfilment and therefore well being as well.  I have started working towards a music exam which I have been meaning to get for years.  The fact that I am getting closer to achieving it rather then continuing to put it off has really improved my sense of self worth.
  • You could probably group together reduced stress and a massage if you feel like giving yourself a treat as well.

So hopefully some of this has been helpful, as always we’re all in this together.

Stay Strong xxx



OCD – Week of Action

So this week has been OCD week of action in the UK.  I always wish I could do more to spread the word but I can be a bit hopeless at times.

This year I used the OCD week of action as an opportunity to finally tell all of my friends and family about my OCD.  My close friends and family have known for a little while but I’ve found it hard to tell everyone I know as people just don’t talk about mental health,  conversions just never go there.

I used social media to do this and I’ve got to say, what a relief, after the initial rush of fear/Adrenalin and nerves about what kind of a reaction I would get I then found myself feeling surprisingly free, like a massive weight had finally been lifted off my back after over 20 years!  In addition to this, I’ve actually received nothing but positive feedback so far, I’m not really sure what I was expecting but the positive response has been pretty encouraging.

It just demonstrates again how much of a bully OCD is, telling you constantly that people won’t understand and that there is something wrong with you, it’s just so important to talk.

So this is the message from today’s blog, to talk to someone if you are feeling troubled, I really can’t say it enough.  A problem shared is a definitely a problem halved.  The weight of hiding a mental illness can make you unwell in itself and I don’t think I even realised how heavy that weight was until this week.

Stay Strong xxx

OCD – Coming out of the Lows

Nowadays this is something I’m finding a little easier.  As you get stronger and better at dealing with your OCD you also start to know that the low days will pass and that you will feel happier again.  It’s not always easy to believe it when you’re in the depths of a low, I know that for sure but I also know it to be true.

Over the years I’ve had long periods where I’ve felt I’ll never feel happy again, I couldn’t see ways out of the thoughts and when I’d get over one another would come swooping in and take me down again.  How I got through this part I’m really not sure, I think I spent a lot of my late teens and early twenties in quite a depressed state which I self medicated myself through with alcohol.  I had rubbish job after rubbish job which I didn’t seem to be able to lift myself out of and I just didn’t look after myself in anyway.  In fact I am sitting here now thinking; how did I pull myself up and out?

It definitely wasn’t an overnight fix and I definitely think it coincided with meeting my now husband.  He gave me something worth fighting for (might sound a bit lame but in all honesty it’s true).  He valued me and so I started to value myself more, no one else had ever done that in the same way.  I have to say this was only the starting point though, I still got a lot of dark periods.  When you’re feeling low the world can feel pointless, everything can feel dark and you just want to curl up and block out everything.

So how do I pull myself out now?  I have to say I don’t have the massive lows as often anymore but when they do come it’s always good to have a go to plan, so here’s my attempt at one, which can hopefully help you guy’s too.

So depending on how low you feel the options may vary a bit but here goes:

  • If you can get out of the house – fresh air and socialising are really important
  • If that’s too much write a list of all the things you have to be grateful for; health, family, friends, the roof over your head, food in your stomach, re-read it whenever you feel low.
  • Watch a feel good movie
  • Talk to a close friend/family member, if they’re free see if they can come over
  • Find someone who will give you a hug – this always feels good
  • If you have an animal pet it, this I am told helps to release feel good hormones and reduce stress
  • If this isn’t the first time you’ve experienced a low then remember that you do come out of these periods.  If it is your first one, trust that it does pass.
  • If you’re feeling like you can’t cope, talk to a medical professional.
  • Treat yourself to something you enjoy, always treat yourself with compassion.

If you are a friend or family member looking for advice on how to support someone going through a low this can be tough but always persevere they need you so much, even if they’re not showing it (which they probably won’t be).

I hope some of these things can help, they’re just my personal list and like I have said before I am not a medical professional, just someone recovering and trying to share something that may help someone else.

Stay Strong, you are not alone xxx


OCD – Procrastination

Now I’ve been dealing with my OCD demons for a fair few years now (over 20!) and although I feel I’ve gotten to grips with them to a certain extent, I know if I really look at my life that they still hold me back in many areas.

I have, I believe, reached a sort of plateau or ‘comfy place’ in my life and though this isn’t necessarily a bad thing – to have a steady job, relationship and social life – it does make it quite easy to just coast along.  Never having to step outside of my comfort zone means some of my OCD ‘fears’ can just be left and never confronted so to speak.  It also means that when something does come along where I do need to step out of my comfort zone – say I have to drive somewhere new/faraway –  normally my first reaction is to feel anxious and think of all the things that could go wrong, catastrophize.

Another side effect of my ‘comfy zone’ is that I never seem to get anything unessential done, things are only sorted when they have to be, rather then when they should be and therefore normally done in a rush and without much thought.  I believe this stems partly from my fear of making decisions.  Final decisions can have OCD thoughts associated with them and so cause me anxiety, therefore I avoid them where I can, naughty, naughty I know.

I feel I do get overwhelmed quickly and it doesn’t take much for me to start spiralling out of control, it definitely makes achieving things tricky.  It can also make me lazy, if I can pass a decision/activity on to someone else then normally I will, not good for OCD recovery I know and ultimately very frustrating for me.

So less of my moaning anyway, lets see if I can try and implement some solutions rather then posing endless problems.

My overall aims are to become more confident, to not let anxiety be the first thing to hit me when trying something new, to find solutions rather than problems and tackle my OCD head on and not avoid it.

  • I think I might start with a list, by writing down all the things I have been putting off/avoiding and then finding a way to tackle them one at a time it will feel less overwhelming and more manageable.
  • It would also help to see new experiences as exciting rather than scary, after all if we never do anything new how do we learn/progress?
  • I should have more confidence and believe myself worthy of new experiences.
  • I should try and get to the route cause of what is causing the anxiety and tackle it head on.
  • Remember that uncertainty is a good thing, would we want to be certain about everything?  There is a good exercise for dealing with uncertainty here.
  • Looking towards end goals and achievements will help to spur me on.
  • Accepting the worse case scenarios so I have nothing to fear.

Wow, so that’s quite a list.  Even the list itself feels a bit overwhelming to be honest but by just trying to take one step at a time hopefully I will start to achieve more of my goals.

Hopefully it can help you too.

Stay Strong xxx


OCD – The Grey Area

I have recently been exploring the OCD community a bit more.  Looking out for new resources and ideas for continued recovery is always a good idea.  In the past I’ve been quite scared of other OCD blogs and forums as I have had times where I’ve just been reading about other peoples OCD thoughts and experiences and this has sometimes made my OCD worse – not what I went looking for.  However as I’ve gotten stronger my curiosity about who else is out there, fighting the OCD battle has been piqued so to say.

Today I was listening to a podcast from the OCD stories website, a fantastic resource which I would definitely recommend.  It was episode 104 of their podcast and something that Dr Elizabeth McIngvale said that really struck me.  She said ‘OCD isn’t black and white’.  Wow I thought, now this can be applied to OCD on so many levels.

I think when you have OCD you do think about a lot of things as being black and white, especially if you catastrophise things.  Always jumping to the worst outcome and blocking out any other possibilities, OCD feeds off your darkest fears – definitely black.  So if we can remember to pull back when a thought hits and remember that life is actually made up of lots of shades of grey rather then extremes then this could help to lessen the strength of the thought.

Another time when it’s easy to think of things in black and white – when you really shouldn’t (which was also touched on in the podcast) is through your recovery.  One bad day or compulsion which you give into, does not mean you’re back to square one.  Be calm about it, take note of why it happened, do something about it if you can and then move on. Don’t feel guilty or upset, just let it go.  Easier said then done I realise but the less time you give the thought to begin with, the easier it will just slip away, never to return.

It can be easy to want OCD to vanish completely and for some people I believe it does but an acceptance of the fact that you may sit in the grey area for ever is important and that that’s actually ok.  Afterall it’s ‘normal’ to have intrusive thoughts, it’s just your ability to process them that is the issue.

I believe it’s really important to keep in mind that one in four people at any one time is suffering from some sort of mental health issue and so you are more normal then you think.  We, most of us are floating along in the grey area which always makes me feel less alone.

Stay Strong xxx

OCD – Relationships

Over the years my OCD has had a massive impact on my relationships.  For so long I’ve kept my OCD hidden from so many people, the result being that there are actually very few people in this world who truly know the real me.  In fact I would go so far as to say there’s only one, my husband.  Everyone else is looking at a slightly cut down version of me.

Wow, I just need to absorb that sentence for a minute, it’s almost unbelievable. 

Out of all my family member’s, friends, work colleagues, everyone I’ve ever met, there’s only one person who I can truly be myself with, who I never feel judged by and who ultimately just gets me.

For years I made excuses not to go places for so many reasons, I think my friends thought I was probably being awkward or anti social and I probably missed out on a lot over the years.  I’m probably not as close to them as I should be because really I’ve never truly felt totally relaxed and myself around them.

In the past when people would pick up on things, so called ‘quirks’ of my OCD, they would just laugh at me, not really understanding what was going on, it really makes me quite sad now.  Gosh, how different things could of been if I’d had the support I’d needed  and the guts to just talk about what was going on with me.

More recently I haven’t kept my OCD a secret when I’ve met new people and over the last couple of years I have tried to tell my family members too but people just don’t talk about mental illness, EVER!  I’m not saying I want to make it the topic of every conversation I have but I definitely get the impression that it’s easier to ignore it then to acknowledge it.

In fact it’s still easier for me to ignore my OCD most days but then it is a massive part of who I am and the way I am and so I’m being dishonest to myself not to own it.  It’s something I have carried around constantly for 21 years and actually it has been a pretty heavy burden at times and so it’s time to break free and own it and see how it feels not to have to hide it anymore.

Nothing positive can come from hiding a mental illness, if you are reading this feeling like there is no one you can talk to then you’re wrong.  There are medical professionals,  who I promise will have heard the things you are telling them before, no matter how crazy you think they sound.  If that feels too much then you can contact a charity, they will give you advice and ideas about what you can do, Mind, OCD UK, and OCD Action are all good sites.

Stay Strong xxx


So I’ve been writing this blog for 6 months now.  This for me is a massive achievement as I find it incredibly hard to concentrate on anything for a sustained period of time.  I get terribly excited about the idea of things but when I realise I’m going to have to apply myself and my mind fully, often I find myself unable to.  Focusing my mind on something, really concentrating, has always been difficult for me, my mind is quite often off, distracted, somewhere else.

There have been many reasons for this over the years, at times my OCD would apply fears/thoughts to actions.  I can remember practising my piano when I was younger and having to keep playing the same piece until I’d managed to get through the whole thing without a bad thought entering my head.  Sometimes I would have to play the piece four times because that’s how many members of my family there were at the time and if I didn’t then something bad would happen to one of them.

I like baking but if I am making a cake and I see a little mark in one of the eggs or perhaps a crumb gets into the mixture then the whole activity can become hugely stressful.  I don’t know how many cake mixes I’ve thrown away over the years through fear of them being contaminated.

The list goes on and on, I find it so hard to get my head into an activity and apply myself  without having to deal with some sort of OCD thought along the way.  I am guessing this is quite common for people with OCD?

OCD makes everything more difficult, cooking, relaxing, driving, decorating, seeing people, going places, work, relationships, pregnancy, events, absolutely everything I do is just a bit harder and over the years I’ve just had to get stronger and stronger to deal with it.

So how have I dealt with it?   

  1. I’ve talked to people
  2. I’ve had CBT therapy
  3. I’ve faced it head on
  4. I’ve learnt to control my thoughts better (most of the time)
  5. I distract myself
  6. I breath through the anxiety when it hits.
  7. I remove myself from stressful situations (when I can)
  8. I’ve read blogs
  9. I’ve started to practice mindfulness
  10. I’ve read books
  11. I’ve learnt what my triggers are
  12. I’ve learnt what relaxes me
  13. I’ve learnt to appreciate what I have
  14. I understand that the thoughts and anxiety will pass in time
  15. I’ve learnt to like myself more
  16. I’ve learnt to be kinder to myself
  17. I’ve educated myself

To be honest this list could probably go on and on.  It makes me realise how far I have come since I was 11, scared, not knowing what was happening to me, completely alone, feeling out of control and upset.  This was the reason I started this blog, no one should have to feel the way I did, ever!

Actually this blog has been very cathartic as well – which I didn’t see coming – so I would probably add ‘write’ to the list above.

I hope by sharing what I am learning and what I have learnt I will be of some help to others.  Life can be pretty tough at times and we all need to talk more to each other about whats going on inside our minds.

I feel like OCD in particular is a hard one for people to talk about as there’s normally an element of being ashamed of or embarrassed by the thoughts.  I guess if they were ‘normal’ thoughts there wouldn’t be an issue.

We must remember that everyone has intrusive thoughts, most people are just able to dismiss them straight away and so they never take hold.  As soon as you notice the thought and give it some time it makes the thought stronger and then if you keep thinking back to it, even if it’s only to think ‘why have I had that thought’ then it will get stronger and stronger and so the viscous cycle continues.

So to sum up the last six months have been a huge learning curve for me, thanks for everyone who’s followed so far, I really hope it’s been of some use.  Here’s to the next six.

Stay Strong xxx


Mindfulness in Practice – Part 1

So a couple of posts ago I said I was going to start looking a bit deeper into mindfulness.  It’s something I’ve only really dabbled in previously but I have found that it seems to work, so wanted to see what else I could find out.  I haven’t made huge progress so far – having a one year old doesn’t give you much spare time – however I did read something today which I managed to use quite successfully, so I thought I would, as promised, ‘pay it forward’ so to speak.

I am currently reading: Mindfulness: A practical guide to finding peace in a frantic world at the start of this book there is a section about how your posture, movement, facial expressions etc can affect your mood and the moods of others.  So for example if you smile – even if you don’t feel like smiling – you will feel happier, other people will see you and smile back.  The same goes for more depressed postures, if you are slouched with your head hanging low you are more likely to feel low and pass this on to others around you.  Obviously the book goes into it in much more detail but you get the general gist.

So today I drove to a roadshow – I think that’s the right term?  Basically an event where, lots of businesses come together to sell you things.  For me something like this is filled with anxieties: driving somewhere I’ve never been before, actually finding the place, parking, talking to lost of strangers, crowds (man I hate crowds), I could go on and on and to add to all the pressures, I had my one year old with me as well, nothing like putting yourself out there.

So I’ve been making big strides forward with my recovery and I know to get over a lot of mental issues you have to face them head on – that’s what I keep preaching on here right?  So when I tried to think of a reason not to go today, there really wasn’t an easily justifiable one.

Anyway I digress.

To be honest it mostly went well, I got lost once on the way but found it eventually and even found a double parking space, yippee!  When my little boy started to run around the presentation and wanted to get up on stage, I coped and everyone seemed to find it funny rather than irritating but eventually it all got a bit much for him and he really started to play up.  I can’t really blame him, it’s not the most exciting place for a one year old.

The challenge however really came when I got back to the car, he’d definitely had enough by this point and flatly refused to get back into his car seat.  I could feel the stress which I’d managed to keep in check up until this point starting to rise, could feel myself getting hotter, how was I going to get him back in his seat, everyone’s watching, argh!

Then I remembered what I had read in the mindfulness book, if I’m getting stressed my little boy will feel stressed, if I’m getting angry, my little boy will just get angrier too and so, I laughed, I looked up at the sky, took a long deep breath and started to laugh and do you know what happened?

My little boy started laughing too, all of the anger and tears of frustration which he had been displaying just seconds earlier just disappeared – well for long enough for me to get him strapped in anyway.  I’m not gonna lie I did have to sing nursery rhymes all the way home.

I know in that moment I was so happy I had read that chapter this morning.

Well that turned into a bit of an essay so I hope it all made sense.  Mindfulness really is incredible and by just being aware of how you are projecting yourself you can completely change a situation for the better, what a powerful tool to have.

Stay Strong xxx