Final Major Project VS Mental Health #MHAW17

It’s been a while, a really long while. In fact, five months since I last wrote a blog post on here and it was the beginning of my last ever university project. It was all about confidence VS creativity and how I have a lack of confidence with creative work. If you want to read it, you can click here.Β 

We’re half way through #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek2017 #MHAW17 and I have finally completed my degree.

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As it is #MHAW17 I thought I would share you my struggles with my FMP, incase someone else is going through the same thing and to let them know, they’re not alone.

All three years are over and done with and I’m confused to how I’m feeling. I’m glad the pressure of third year has been lifted. However, there is still pressure of what grades I get at graduation, or even if I do graduate. As well as whether I get a job in graphic design and where it’ll be, or even if I’m good enough to go into industry. To be honest, I don’t think I am ready to leave education. But when will I ever be ready if I’m not now? I just kind of wish we had just one more project to do.

My final major project at university was a ride and a half. To start, I did a FMP (final major project) proposal in first semester of third year and it was for a sub brand for Lamoda of creating stationery for them. I had it all planned out, researched and was more than ready to go. When I got my grade back for the proposal I got my highest I ever got whilst at uni and this made me so excited. It wasn’t until after Christmas and we got going with the actual final major project I found, it really wasn’t for me. Nothing inside me wanted to open my computer and design for stationery. In fact, I couldn’t of thought of anything worse.

If you’ve read my blog before, you will know I suffer with a mental health condition called Trichotillomania. If you are new here, I’ll explain briefly. It is an impulse control disorder that makes you pull your hair out. No matter how hard you try, you just cannot stop. It is incurable and you just need to focus on ways to get through each and every day. Β It is, however, personally for me triggered by stress, anxiety and depression.

With my ideas changing and people in my class getting things done, I felt behind. I felt like the more I saw them, the more shit I felt about my own work. This was down to their work being incredible and mine wasn’t even started yet. The question of was I good enough to even complete my third year, was all that was going through my mind. Every night I would wake up and brainstorm what I would do instead of a stationery brand.

It was around seven weeks into my thirteen week term, that I finally started to get ideas come together. The final idea was to create a zine which focussed on beauty standards of society focusing on women. I had recently done my dissertation in the first semester on this and researched a lot, so I knew about the topic. I went to class for lots of weeks running up to this idea and I kind of just got through each meeting – how? I don’t know.

It wasn’t until when I was sat with my friends and they started getting really into their projects and I hadn’t even started mine yet I panicked. I didn’t want to start because, I genuinely didn’t think my work was good enough. I was seeing my class produce work week by week and I adored all of their work, but there was something in me telling me – nope! You’ll never reach that standard of work. That’s when I called a meeting and I was given three solutions.

  1. I could terminate the term. I could do it at a later date, but it would mean I wouldn’t graduate with my course friends.
  2. I could get extenuating circumstances. My mind just wasn’t with the course due to one thing or another.
  3. Or, I could just get my head down, ignore what other people were doing and just focus on my own project.

I don’t know if any of you have anxiety or suffer from any MH issues, but the thought of going home and telling my family that I wouldn’t graduate until November or even later scared me. Genuinely, all I’ve ever wanted to do is graduate with the people I spent my last three years with. I wouldn’t want anything more than that. Anxiety did not let me forget those options throughout the whole course.

I can safely say, that chat really kicked me up the arse. I had 8 weeks to do enough photoshoots to cover a zine and a website with different content for each, illustrations to draw, editing of skills to show, film to be written, filmed and edited as well as create a website solely from scratch.

I had panic attacks after panic attacks, but they wouldn’t effect me in the day they effected me at night. Night time was when it really got serious. Nine nights in a row I had a panic attacks. To accompany them I had the most terrifying nightmares. They were SO bad. Not only was the panic attacks and nightmares the worst of it all, but when it did come to morning I was so exhausted from having to deal with that half way through a sleep, that I had no energy in the morning. I didn’t have time to go for a doctors appointment so looked in the local Boots and picked up the tablets ‘Kalms’ especially for night time. I was a bit sceptical at first using them, because I didn’t want to rely on them, but they literally saved my last few weeks at uni. They didn’t help me get to sleep, they help me not wake up in the night having panic attacks and helped me sleep through. If I could I would make a special acknowledgement to them in FMP.

Towards the end, people were producing more work than they needed to and to be up to that level I felt I had to do the same. At one point I had four days to complete a website, edit my video and do other extra work on top to build my CAT credits up.

In the end, my FMP consisted of:

  • A 32 page zine, all creatively directed photo shooted/edited by me. Illustrations drawn by me and the writing, written by me.
  • Five interview conducted for both the zine and the website.
  • A 20 something page website, with every single page developed and designed by me using Adobe Muse.
  • GIF’s made by me.
  • A video filmed, edited and styled by me.
  • Flyers/posters for campaign reasons created by me
  • A second 12 page preview zine for the next issue designed by me
  • A 64 page development book, completed.

Zine pages:

Website examples:

Sketchbook examples.

I’m not going to lie, I feel so proud that I created all of that in practically 8 weeks. Even though, my mental health really challenged me, as well as life, I did it. I completed the whole three years, with the people I had studied throughout the whole course with and handed together as a tag team.

If you are going through a similar circumstance and you need someone to talk to, to help get you going and a kick up the ass without being TOO harsh, message me. I will always be here to help you through.

YOU CAN DO IT. If I could do it, so can you. Believe in yourself and get your head down.

Remember, diamonds are made under pressure.

A special thank you to my friends, tutor and family for being a massive support throughout the completion of this whirl wind adventure.

Busting Anxiety πŸ’ͺ🏻

Ever had an awful feeling something so simple as a conversation you haven’t had yet, take over your every thought and action? Last week was a big week for me reguarding beating one part of mental health I battle against every day – anxiety. I haven’t discussed anxiety in itself on my blog before but it’s time I did. I’m so proud of myself. So so SO proud of myself.


Here’s some feelings I have put into questions that I experienced:

How many times and how many conversations can you really make up that could potentially happen but then to just think constantly about the answers and how you could perhaps change the way you respond to them can one person make?

How many nights will I lack sleep or have disturbed sleep?

How many of them nights will I wake up in a sweat/panic?

How much hair will I have pulled out due to Trich thinking it is a great time to play up? (Oh Trich just never lets me live, it has me under its thumb… grrrrr)

To finish, how many times will my dreams incorporate this meeting and make me think of every single thing that could go wrong and resulting in waking up with my heart going so fast it makes me shake? All over one meeting, that my mind over thought and over thought and would not let me rest.

It was like this whilst outside the room where I had this meeting, let alone the lead up to it. My anxiety was literally shouting at me whilst on my way and outside, telling me to go back home and I wasn’t worthy of talking to someone. That the person I was about to talk to didn’t care and that no one cares. That what I was feeling, I deserved. Anxiety is a nasty, nasty thing to live with. It makes it so hard to get on with your daily life without having these potential set-backs. The reality of anxiety is, it is not cute. Anxiety isn’t trendy. It is awful to feel this way over things that would be so normal to do for every other person. It frustrates me no end the stigma surrounding anxiety.

The day before I had one of the most incredible books delivered* to me. The book is called “We’re All Mad Around Here” and is a guide on how to cope and survive social anxiety. It’s written by a fab lady called Claire Eastham and I have a lot to thank this woman. When she asked me if I’d like a proof copy of this book I couldn’t turn it down. I read the entire book in one night and she made me feel less alone. The way the book is written is like she is talking to you. There is the perfect mix between the science of why these feelings happen and her own experiences. The addition of Claire’s own experiences makes you feel like you’re not alone, especially when you can relate. I learnt an awful, awful lot about social anxiety from this book. I learnt ways that I can help myself and I learnt ways I can help others.

I was able to take what I learnt from this book to before my meeting to make me feel less anxious and nervous. I will be reading this book again, especially if I’m ever in that situation.


I’m proud of myself, that although all the signals in my mind told me to turn around and go home, I was able to overcome them and go into the meeting. Even if the lady told me to put my laptop down because I was shaking too much and was making her feel giddy. I did it. I didn’t let anxiety and it’s overpowering thoughts take over. I’m so glad I did too, it helped me a lot.

If you have something important coming up and you’re in the same situation I believe you can do it. If I was in the state I was and did it, you can as well. You’ve got totally got this. Bust anxiety in the floor and show it, you’re the boss… not anxiety.
** I was sent this as a little gift not as a sponser! Thank you so much to the lovely Claire 😘

Moving and coping.

Today is the day. The day I move into a new house down university. I was meant to move in a week ago today but due to money I couldn’t go down for Friday so said I would go down Monday.

Sunday evening I had a bad nights sleep. I only had three hours due to major major overthinking. It was so so bad. I just kept thinking of all the possible things that could go wrong whilst moving house. Right from no one being in first to silly things, but big things for me, will my door shut and will I be able to open it again.

There are soΒ many things going through my head right now, so m a n y. I have thoughts such as how is the bathroom door going to be? Will I be able to lock it then open it again? What if my bedroom door is one that jams and I can’t open it ever again? There’s also things like what if my next door neighbours are loud and I can’t sleep when I have work the next morning. These are genuine thoughts running through my head and I seriously wish they would leave so I can just get on with things, as normal.

I do have ways to try and drown out these thoughts however, such as turning up music so I can’t hear them anymore. I do this a lot, if and where I can. I can’t do it whilst I’m at work but… if I’m in the street 9/10 i’ll have headphones on me which I will instantly plug in and use. If I’m at home I will use my speakers and turn up the music louder, just so I’m singing along to something and not thinking about things, over and over and over.

Another thing I will do if I’m home if it’sΒ night time and not always practical to blast music the loudest it’ll go is, I will turn on my fav movie. I don’t watch a lot of films and TV shows as I’m one of those who get easily bored and very quickly. Films such as The Devil Wears Prada, Confessions of a Shopaholic or Mean Girls are films that can be put on without actually thinking about what I’m watching – bonus.

I have also been trying toΒ control Trich, because that is playing up MEGA time. I keep catching myself thinking GOD WILL YOU STOP. It’s got to the point where my arm aches. It’s so sore for being up pulling on my hair. I’ve been using my good old friend the stress ball. I might even give them names I use them a lot. I’ve also had to tie my hair into loads of different bunches so that I don’t pull, they’re harder to pull in a pony tail. I’ve also wet my hair a lot as well as my fingers can’t seem to feel the bad bits like that. It was pay day today so I decided to buy some head wraps, you know try it out and see if it helps. To my surprise they aren’t on the usual sites that I buy clothing/accessories from. I am excited to receive them and will defo report how I get on when I get them through the post.

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(I illustrated this the other afternoon, with millions of dots. Copyright applies)

I have however tried to vlog this week (only two days – whoops) but this week has been a crazy one and so many things have happened and changed.

Hopefully by the next time I post I’ll be all settled in the new house and there won’t be anything to worry about – who knows?

 

Getting It Out In The Open..

In my last post I mentioned that at the beginning of the uni year I began to get major panic attacks to the point they were waking me up in the middle of the night. If any of you have suffered from panic attacks before or had one you will know, they are not pleasant. They make you feel scared, almost as though you feel like you are dying, as dramatic as it sounds and really makes you feel so on edge.

I was getting them more and more and decided it was enough. I couldn’t do normal things such as go to bed to sleep properly in the fear that I was going to wake up in a panicked state, enough was enough. I love sleep, although I cannot remember the last time I slept the whole night through without waking at the very least three times. If anyone has got any tips they use to when they need to sleep but cant sleep I will 100% appreciate them!

I hadn’t told my family about this and still only told my dad literally two weeks ago. I go to uni over 100 miles away from home and theres nothing worse than the feeling that your parent(s) are worried about you. I told close friends and thats it. I didn’t even tell the people I am living with, so if you’re one of them then I’m sorry. I kind of like to keep this stuff to myself but its about time I helped another person out who may also need it and are afraid of whats happening to them. I’ve been so open about things on my blog recently and honest so, nothing is going to change there.

I went into my universities student hub. I knew where it was and I knew they were there to help but never actually went. Now was the time. After all, I pay fees to go uni, I may as well use their services. I emailed them first, I didn’t feel confident enough to go in face to face and talk about whats going on, things are just so much easier through email, for me anyway. The replied pretty quickly with an email back basically saying I would benefit going to their counselling sessions.

This was a pretty scary thought to begin with. Counselling? Am I worth it? Are my problems worth their time just sitting listening to them? Would the counsellor think I’m being silly? You know, all the questions that fly round your head. I however replied with I would like to try them out. I was put on a waiting list and within a few weeks my first appointment rolled around.

At first we had a twenty minute appointment where we literally sat and spoke if it was going to be beneficial to have these appointments. It was the typical environment, a little room, chair opposite each other and not much else. She talked me through how she would be there to help me find strategies to help with these panic attacks and to get right down to what was causing them. To me this sounded perfect and she put me on a course of eight sessions – if I needed more they would be available. They were an hour session fitted around my already existing university commitments and once a week. I was lucky to have mine on a day off so I didn’t need to worry about lessons.

When I went to my first session I expected it to be awkward. I never knew the woman and to just open up about life problems and all that was quite difficult. I don’t have a major issue with trust but somethings I’m like – errrrm. You know many things I have just kept to myself and not really spoke them out loud. I’m quite a closed book unless you know me. I’m working on it everyday which is why I’m writing more about this on my little space on the internet. Not everything, but enough to help people out if they need someone to know they’re going through a similar thing.

I didn’t open up as much as I could of done on my first appointment, I briskly went over what I thought was giving me these panic attacks and major anxiety, and getting me down. We figured it was more likely balancing uni work and work together along with life. I was working as much as I could through a very busy uni semester with work thrown here there and everywhere. I had to take a step back and think, why was I down in Southampton and not back at home, and that was for my degree. I have to work to pay bills, rent etc just like everyone else, but overall university, my degree was the number one reason I am at uni.

I began to make plans/schedules. Scheduling time out for me time. Time I can go and enjoy myself and not think about university or work. Just time to chill out, watch my favourite TV show and not feel guilty. That was another thing on the list, feeling guilty if I was doing something that wasn’t university work. I would feel like whilst I was sat binge watching Netflix episodes I could be doing this, this and this for my degree. Together, with the counsellor we decided a few hours a day I could have me time. It felt a lot better writing it in a diary than just doing it spontaneously.

I managed to do this in the week that I wasn’t seeing her. I then went back and said how I thought the schedule really seemed to help. Although, I didn’t stick to it everyday it was still there as a basis. I was honest and told her. I wasn’t going to keep things back and was 100% honest the whole time. We talked through the schedule and how it was working which was fab. There was something though that wasn’t making me feel – right. I still felt pretty down most of the time and whilst I was there I wanted to address that too, find some sort of strategy. Β I knew I’d find it difficult because I always find it hard to speak out unless I know that person.

I just wanted to get things fixed as much as possible. The counsellor asked questions and more questions and as much as I wanted to answer them I just couldn’t. I stuck to the schedule however for this week and I was getting better at it the more it went on. I was feeling a little more better about balancing everything.

 

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(Insta: MentalHealthDaily_)

Overall, university counselling was so beneficial. The fact they fit around your already existing timetable is so good, and that (mine) was based in university. So convenient. I’m grateful for my counsellor for helping me out the most when I needed it. I just wish I had opened up more, maybe sometime soon.

I hope this post gives you some confidence, if you’re struggling with anything to go out and get help. You are not alone. You may feel it in the dead of the night when you’re awake trying to forget these thoughts, but you’re not. There are people that can help you, willing to help you. You don’t have to go it alone.

Life, uni and art.

I did it, I have finally completed my second year at university. In my first year, with homesickness after moving away I wasn’t sure if I’d even make it to second year, but… here I am sat here in the house I’m living in at university saying I’ve completed it and boy am I ready to start my third and final year!

I’m not going to say it was the easiest breeze through second year, because it wasn’t. In both aspects of personal and educational ways. It’s 100% true what they say, second year your work in your degree steps up a lot. I was just about getting away with doing my three month long projects, in just over a month in my first year but second year has really made me work hard. There was no time for last minute projects everything had to be done to a schedule – as much as I could do anyway. There has been advantages of second year to first year, one being that I never knew how to properly use the programs we use in first year i.e. Photoshop, Illustrator, Indesign, Premere Pro, Muse etc.. I had only used these at basic level in my diploma. I now feel so much more confident on these softwares, and have now been Adobe Certified in Photoshop after taking an exam, yay! I love learning new skills and then feeling that ‘Yay I did it!’ feeling after. I can’t wait to learn these programs in a deeper level.

This year not only did my degree work step up, but I had to balance a job on top to be able to pay bills/rent etc. It is only a weekend job and not for many hours at all, but when you were used to leaving your work till the weekend then not having them anymore, that made a huge difference. I had to learn how to utilise my time in the week as much I could.

If you’ve read my blog before, you would know that I’ve become more open about mental health, in hope that it would either help someone who’s suffering the same or raise awareness to people who may not know what it is to go through it.Β I’m going to admit, I struggled this academic year with mental health, battling it away as much as I could. In my first semester I had just started a job and if you’ve read my blog posts before you would know that me and change do not go hand in hand at all. My anxiety rocketed and I started having panic attacks that were waking me up in the middle of the night. I can say now, that because I’m used to my job and nothing is new anymore the panic attacks have settled down and not as crazy as they were, unless I have a dramatic event coming up such as interviews for internships etc, as they usually flairs up a bit then. I now know how to control them more with having experience with them. I still get anxiety at work a lot but because I’ve experienced these before I have ways to solve it myself, and know how to get myself out the situation and take a few minutes to chill out and know what triggers it and sets it off. There are times however that it comes on when I least expect it and there are still times in daily life which get me. I suffer from anxiety outside of work and on more of daily tasks, but that’ll be in another post. Anxiety is one of the underlining issues of Trichotillomania for myself.

In my second semester, I found out some awful news that shook me up, and of course that started everything off again. I noticed I wasn’t focused on my work as much and I didn’t want to be down at university anymore, I just wanted to be home. I did, however, turn my graphic design work in units as a way to get out emotion, especially a project which I did a lot of photo manipulation. (That project in the unit got a 1st! YAY! but overall the unit got a high 2:1 – boom!)

*Images in original state not owned by me. The artwork from these images are done by me and owned by me.*

I love the fact that I’m able to portray my feelings and emotions through the means of art within my degree course. I love the way that art doesn’t have to be a certain strict answer and can be interpreted in different ways, depending on the person. SometimesΒ it could be a scribble sometimes more in depth but its art.

I have a lot to thank for art. Art is literally my happy place.