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Stop, Think & Breathe: App Review

*This is not a sponsored post*

I have been trying to get into meditation for a few months now because almost everyone says it is the way forward when it comes to recovery. I was talking to someone at work and they said that if I was new to meditating it can be a bit daunting. They advised that I look around at all the apps that are available to provide guided meditations until I feel confident enough to do it on my own. I picked “Stop, Think & Breathe” I think it matches my personality the best. It has graphs to show the general mood both pre and post meditation and allows you to pick certain emotions to work out which guided meditation would be best for you.

Top 3 pros:

  • Tailored meditations based on current mood: This for me is the best feature of the app. You can input how you’re feeling mentally and physically then choose up to 5 key words. The app then takes a few moments before showing you a short list of suggested guided meditations based on that info.
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    • e & Post graphs: there is a graph of your pre and post meditation moods and if you use this app regularly it could be pretty useful to see not only the progress you make (mood wise) but could potentially help identify if there are certain days you feel worse than others.
    • Key words: I like that in the “my progress” section there is a bit at the bottom that shows the words you have picked the most for the week, the month and also overall.

    Cons:

    • Doesn’t Save Key Words: Even though it gives you an overview of your top words it doesnt save the words you use. So the graph shows you felt “meh” or “rough” but doesn’t show you what words you picked to go with that mood. This, for me, would be super useful because I like to try and spot trends, habits or triggers so I can work on them.
    • Meditation count: Just like your key words it doesn’t show you what meditation you did to help. Again I would find this super helpful with looking at the trends in my behaviour and finding the best meditation to use going forward. Even if its not possible to keep a record of which ones you used on which day perhaps just a simple count of how many times each meditation has been done overall would be handy.
    • Reminders: Usually I hate apps that have reminders but I think it would work really well with this one. As someone new to meditating I often forget to do it but if I could set a reminder on the app would be really helpful. This obviously isnt a big issue for me as I can set an alarm/reminder on my phone.

    Overall:

    I really like this app. It’s easy to use and has really helped ease me into meditations with some pretty great guided sessions. If you’re wanting to start meditating and think guided sessions is something you want to try then I would highly recommend this app as a great way to start!

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    Fiction

    The Hate U Give – Book Review

    The Hate U Give

    Synopsis:

    Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.
    Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

    Review:

    I have attempted to write this review more times than I can count since finishing the book back in April. So I thought maybe the easiest way to go about it was to break it down a little!

    Starr: This is a very character driven book and you can really tell thats where the author has put alot of her passion and energy. Reading Starr’s story doesn’t feel like your reading fiction not only because her experiences reflect that of so many others but because she has been written so well. Her journey throughout the book is really beautiful to read her thoughts and attitudes are being shaped in such a strong way. At the beginning of the book she appears to be a girl who is perhaps not necessarily embarassed but definitely reserved about her full personality. By the end of the book she is a strong woman with fire in her belly and passion in her heart to stand up and be her complete self and fight for justice.

    Family: I found this book to be really refreshing with it’s family dynamic. The author doesn’t try and portray them as absolutely perfect and always 100% supportive nor does she try to portray them as damaged beyond repair and uncaring for each other. Both are traps I feel almost all YA authors fall into. This family were just written as a normal family there for each other when they need to be but firm when necessary. Every single person in this family felt like a real person and like everything down to little quirks had been thought about and brought to light naturally. The whole book is a beautiful example of showing and not telling.

    Friends: Starr’s relationship with her friends and her boyfriend was something that really brought to light the changes she went through. For the most part it’s hard to see why she keeps so much of herself and her personality private. Her boyfriend and best friend are incredibly accepting of her and her different background. But at school she is also around people who she thinks are friends that arent willing to open their minds to what is really happening and you can see that is the biggest reason she holds back. Starr seems to split herself in the beginning between her friends at school and her friends in her neighbourhood. In my opinion its this split and the slow shift in the dynamics that really moves the book along rather than the plot. In a lot of ways it feels like a coming of age story because of how she learns to cope with and bring together her two worlds.

    Themes: The book heavily focus on culture divides, the black lives matter movement and how both citizens and police are viewed in the media after the police shoot an unarmed POC. I think these themes and events were written incredibly well and provoked a lot of questions and a lot of anger. I think it speaks volumes for the talent, passion and understanding of the author to be able to tackle sensitive subjects like this. It felt very much real and not like it has been overly dramatised for effect.

    Plot: To be honest it didnt really feel like there was a plot to this book. It just felt like a series of events strung together till a conclusion was gained. Thats not to say the book wasn’t interesting or compelling to read it just didnt seem to have much of a structure to it. I have a theory that this might be because all the focus was on character development and the themes. She covered these areas so well that I’m not overly dissapointed by the lack of structure.

    Overall: I hope I’ve made it pretty obvious I really loved this book since it has taken me numerous attempts to write this review. Despite my attempts I’m still not happy and don’t feel I have done this book justice! I think its an important book for people of most ages to pick up and get a good idea of some of the grittier more realistic scenarios that happen regularly over in the states.

    Anxiety

    Nightmare in November – An Anxiety Anecdote

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    So I was scratching my head trying to think of what would be a good official first post. It needed to be something that would help you all get a feel for what I want this blog to be and hopefully help you get to know me a little more.

    I finally settled on the defining moment that lead me to get diagnosed officially with Anxiety. A somewhat embarrassing anecdote which was the final straw for me and pushed me to finally talk to my Dr and realise that what I had been going through most my life but especially those past months was not “normal” (whatever that means)!

    So it was a Sunday morning in November and at that time my younger brother was living with me. We were taking part in NaNoWriMo and each Sunday we’d take ourselves to a Costa Coffee to do some writing sprints and treat ourselves after long weeks at work. We had been doing this for months not just for NaNoWriMo and there was nothing different about this trip, we ordered hot chocolate, a sandwich and a cake for after. We did this every week and for the first half hour or so we were fine, writing away at our respective novels. I was happy, things were good, I was doing something I loved and was passionate about – and did I mention I had cake!

    I felt a hot flush of sorts, which I put down to heavy winter clothes or the hot chocolate I pushed past and ignored it as best I could. Before I knew it my leg started twitching, my foot pumping away at some imaginary pedal, and my fingers felt numb. I wanted nothing more than to stop but as hard as I tried I couldn’t control my energy or channel it.

    *warning we’re about to get slightly graphic* What I have noticed as my biggest ‘tick’ during a panic attack which I don’t think I’ve heard anyone else mention is that my bowels will turn to liquid in a second. When I say a second, I mean it too (more on this in another anecdote though) I had got up pretty abruptly, dashed to the loo and had only just managed to sit down before the… erm …. evacuation occurred. I was completely stressed out now, my legs were still twitching, foot pumping, fingers numb and I was sweating profusely. Something similar but not anywhere near as bad had happened only the week before but it had passed almost as quickly as it had come, this was different. I sat there for ages, worried because I hadn’t told my brother where I’d gone, stressed because my phone didn’t have any signal to text him & overwhelmed by how much my body was betraying me!

    To top it all off just as I was thinking surely I had nothing left to….deposit…. I started to throw up. A year and 9 months later I know now being sick is not something I (personally) should expect from a panic attack but I assume this happened because I didn’t have a clue what was happening to me. I was beyond upset and honest to goodness I actually thought I would never be able to leave that tiny cubicle ever again! Every time I thought I was done my stomach would churn and I had to sit back down. I am not discussing this lightly or because I want to amuse or provide a shock factor. I have a feeling this is a more common occurrence for people than is talked about and maybe it will help someone one day.

    In my mind I had been in their for almost half a day but in reality It was probably more like half an hour, forty minutes tops. I didn’t feel ready to leave the safety of the cubicle but all I wanted now was to get home as soon as humanly possible. I rushed out, probably still fastening my jeans. The plan was to get out the cubicle, quickly tell my brother I felt ill and leave all within 5 minutes but as I came out the bathroom area and walked back into the cafe everything was silent and everyone’s eyes quickly darted to me, most with stern faces.

    Now I’m pretty sure this is how many of us feel pre, post and during a panic attack and at first I thought it was all in my head; I even thought I was in some weird kind of dream. However folks I wasn’t dreaming and it wasn’t just the usual thought that happens to us all people were actually staring and it was deadly silent, the coffee machines weren’t even whirring away! It turns out ladies and gents that I had emerged from the ladies at 11am on remembrance Sunday and everyone was doing their two minute silence!

    Everything after this point became a blur. I remember the moment of realisation and not knowing whether to move to my table or stay where I was. I remember we left only moments after everyone started bustling about again and I remember the feeling of holding the floodgates of tears until we got home. I remember I asked if we could walk the long way to the bus station so I didn’t have to smell the cafe’s or the soap shop (all of which I knew would set my stomach off again) and I remember apologising a thousand times to my brother who didn’t fuss over me but just kept assuring me I didn’t need to apologise and I would be okay (seriously this is why the dude is more than a brother & is more of a best friend).

    Whereas the panic attack and the 5 minutes after emerging from the ladies had seemed to go painfully slow the aftermath was like a flickerpad of snapshots whizzing by quickly getting to the final frame; me an exhausted, drained and zombie like mess on my sofa for the rest of the day. Even looking back at it now a year and 9 months later makes me tense but in a way I’m glad it happened because the next day I called the Dr and bit the bullet, she was so kind and reassuring and despite what I’d thought she didn’t push me into any direction regarding medication, counselling etc she gave me all the information she had and gave me time.

    I have been on the medication for a year and 8 months now and those first few weeks I felt shame about it but now I know there is no shame in doing what is needed to look after yourself. Medication at that time was what I needed to keep me afloat while I got to this stage and there is nothing wrong with that!

    Anxiety · Depression · Fiction

    About Fears & Fiction

    About Fears & Fiction:
    Fears:

    I’m here to share the nitty, gritty and not so pretty ups and downs and constant battles I’ve had with depression and anxiety. I love watching youtubers and reading blogs about other people’s tips and tricks on how to cope but I’ve noticed that a lot of the time these out lets can over simplify and at times glamorise mental health. I don’t know about you but sometimes these tips are just not that easy to work into my mindset!

    I want to create a safe space for all to talk about how difficult it is to change your habits, behavior and attitude but also how, ultimately, it’s worth while trying. I want to share stories/anecdotes and my coping mechanisms with you all in the hopes of helping someone else who might feel isolated by standards others project as normal and easy in the recovery process.

    Ultimately this is a place for me to log my progress and share my thoughts and feelings on the steps forward and inevitable steps back. However the long term goal for me would be to help others, even if it’s one person, understand they are not alone!

    Fiction:

    Fiction has played a very big part in my life. From as far back as I can remember I have wanted to be an author and shortly after I realised that, I became a big reader. I am not over exaggerating when I say that writing, at one point in my life, literally saved my life. I was lucky to find this, my healthy outlet from so many unexpressed emotions. And then there is my second love, reading, which takes me to worlds outside of my own so I can leave the troubles that haunt my mind in the real world while I explore throughout the pages giving my mind a well deserved break!

    My Background:

    *I want to firstly say I am not in anyway shape or form an expert. I have never studied mental health before and I will never claim to have all the answers. All I will ever be able to do is tell my story and advice based on my own experiences.*

    I have suffered with depression for as long as I can remember and was diagnosed when I was 14. When I Look back on it I  can see that I’d also suffered with anxiety for as long but it wasn’t until I was 25, the end of 2015, that I had my first big panic attack and was diagnosed.

    I am only just seeing the light at the end of the tunnel since my anxiety diagnoses and the past 18 months or so have been such a struggle and has taken a massive toll not just on my mental health but also my physical health and well being (which I will go more into depth with in future posts).