I enjoyed my Birthday this year!What a nice change :-)

Last year, my birthday was full of sadness, longing and disappointment. I was overwhelmed with the loss of the father I thought I’d had.

This year, although we didn’t fly to Greece as we had originally planned and although I am no longer in contact with my father, my birthday actually felt good! My closest friends from London arrived yesterday on my actual birthday and the timing of their arrival was just perfect. I had no time to feel sad and think too much about my Dad. We woke up, got ready and went straight to the airport to pick them up. After that we went straight for brunch and picked up my delicious birthday cake that hubby had ordered a few weeks before.

When we got home, we had cake and tea 🙂 It was absolutely delicious!

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It was so lovely to catch up after 1 year of not seeing them and we thoroughly enjoyed showing them a good time. Later in the afternoon/evening we headed into town, so they could get some gifts for their work colleagues from the Haribo shop and we finished off the evening with a delicious dinner and some cocktails at Hans im Gluck Burger bar.

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Although my anxiety creeped up on me as it’s been ages since I have actually socialised properly with friends, I still managed to keep it under control so it wouldn’t ruin my day.

Unfortunately, anything that requires leaving my comfort zone or routine nowadays, seems to aggravate my anxiety more than it used to. I have become so accustomed to just spending all my time with hubby, that I seem to get anxious if I feel that I have to socialise for 3 days non stop. Luckily though, we have breaks in between and even though my friends are here for 3 days, we still take some time out throughout each day to just chill and have some alone time.

Today we have a chilled out day doing a nature walk in our local area and although it is 30 degrees, which always increases my anxiety due to the heat, I will be organised with refreshments packed in my little rucksack to ease my symptoms when they get bad.

Love Athina ♥

 

 

Dachshund or returning to UK

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Hubby and I have been talking more and more over the last few days about how our life will continue when his work contract comes to an end next year..Do we leave our comfortable home and life for a life back in the uncertain post brexit future of the UK or do we stay for the long haul and I just have to continue learning the language?!

My number one choice has always been the UK, mainly because I never wanted to leave in the first place. We only left because hubby wasn’t happy in his job in Bournemouth and he only had a short window to find work elsewhere until our money ran out. Germany was the quickest offer he got, so although I had many reservations, we did it anyway..

After the first few months passed of us settling into our new life in Germany, we decided to get married. Things were going downhill in Greece with my father’s depression and I just had this bad feeling. I knew that if I ever wanted to get married with both my parents there, it would have to be that year. We went through with it in October 2014, 7 months into living in Germany. Although it wasn’t the easiest or smoothest wedding day due to stress and family drama, we at least committed to each other and created a new family unit. Both hubby and I always needed to feel a sense of belogning in our life and we finally managed to find it in each other.

Unfortunately, 2 months after we got married I confronted my mother about her dismissal of my feelings most of my life and 7 months later my father attempted suicide. My first year of marriage was utter shite and I had to go back on anti-depressants just to get through that year!Looking back on it now, I am happy it is over! The only thing that made that year a little better was celebrating our 1st wedding anniversary in New York! I had always wanted to go to America and I finally made it there for our special day!

All in all, Germany ended up being a safe haven for me, so I could work through my feelings of grief and disappointment. Although I was out of my comfort zone, Germany became my best friend. The fact that I wasn’t working for the first 2 years of my life here was a blessing in disguise. I was able to develop myself personally, set boundaries, progress heaps and bounds in therapy and even qualify as a life coach.

I finally said goodbye to my father after all the abuse & trauma and managed to slowly  re-create a civil relationship with my mother again, although only through acceptance of her limitations. Although I know life isn’t ever going to be the same again, since acquiring all this new wisdom & knowledge about my abusive parents, I am finally closer to making peace with the family I am left with.

The cutest thing about life here in Germany has been the constant appearance of the ‘Rauhaardackel’! :-)I completely fell in love with these beautiful little wirehaired dachshunds (sausage dogs) and we have been wanting to get one for the last couple of years. In this last month, hubby sent out emails to separate breeders and we came so very close to getting one this summer. We have so much love to give a dog and are also looking forward to the unconditional love that a dog gives back. Germany has at times been lonely, due to lack of friends or family and we know that this little dog would give us so much joy and friendship.

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Over the last weekend, we had numerous chats about moving back to England. On Friday, hubby just announced that we have to move back no matter what! He admitted that he is fed up travelling to work & back 2 hours each day, being the only one who earns enough to support our family and that he would much prefer it if we both worked average jobs full time rather than him doing a stressful job on his own. This is also something I have been wanting for the last 3 years, as I have missed earning a full time wage but have also been wanting to further develop myself in the area of mental health, through work and studies. I have felt like my desire to work in areas that interest me in the UK, has been on hold the last couple of years.

The hardest thing about living abroad is that you discover that there are so many things that are better than in your country. Renting in Germany is like owning a home. You have more freedom to do whatever you want and the rent is only increased once every 10 years. The health-care system is also very good. I have had great support here for both my mental and physical health. We were also able to buy a brand new car with hubby’s savings and we now only purchase food and cosmetics from Organic sources. There are a lot of things that we have grown accustomed to, so another big move again means that we will have to give up a lot of what we currently have.

It also means that we have to give up on our dream of getting our little sausage dog 😦 Moving back to the UK and finding a property to rent that will also accept a small dog, would be a huge challenge. Landlords don’t usually accept pets, so if we were to actually get a dog, it would limit our choice by 80%. This breaks my heart as I desperately want a dog, especially because we have decided we are not having kids.

This is the way it will have to be however. If we want to move back to the UK for my own emotional wellbeing, then having a puppy will just have to wait..

I admitted to hubby that I am so very tired of being around German speaking people..I am genuinely fed up of feeling uncomfortable and like a fish out of water..I usually enjoy getting to know people but my ability to do this here has obviously been hard. Especially now that I have started this new part time job, I always feel on edge when people talk to me and I know I have to reply in German. I never realised how much I would miss speaking English until I moved here!

Having emotional difficulties is already challenging enough to live with..Battling ill mental health is tough enough with all the limitations that come with it. When you already suffer with CPTSD, pushing yourself even further out of your comfort zone is a struggle..I really feel like I have done the best I could do under the circumstances..

To end this long, babbling blog post, I wanted to say that hubby is much closer to accepting that we will be moving back to the UK next year. We have made plans to save as much money as we can so we are comfortable when we move back and we have decided that we will really try to downsize from a 2 bedroom flat to a 1 bedroom in the UK, so we can save even more money for a future deposit on a forever home. I will have to give away or sell most of my unneccesary possessions (dvd collections/art/home decor etc), to make room for a sensible future life in the UK again.

In all honesty, I cannot wait! 🙂

Thanks for reading! ❤

The time of year when everyone is tired..

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It feels like ages since I have posted a proper blog post..I am feeling so so tired and there are 6 days left of my German course before Christmas and I really can’t wait..

It is not Christmas in itself I am looking forward to. It is the week off I can’t wait for.I want to sleep in, be lazy, relax, watch films and enjoy home with my hubby.

For someone who hasn’t worked a full time job in ages, I shouldn’t really complain..

Most of you have to get up every morning and work really hard..A lot of you don’t even like your job anymore..A lot of you have health problems, stress and kids to bring up..

I don’t have kids and don’t have a full time job but I live with CPTSD every day..I am also an introvert and highly sensitive person, so being around people as much as I have recently has worn me out..

There have been times throughout my intensive course where I have just wanted to cry and give up..where I just come home and don’t want to even think about German let alone do the daily homework given to us… Then there is the extra studying of the vocabulary…the memorising of words (which is challenging as my short term memory is awful due to the meds I am on)…where my feeling of being overwhelmed makes me extremely irritable and I just want to hide away in my bed..I also had 3 incidents so far where I would arrive in class and it felt like my heart was beating irregularly, completely out of the blue..This would then make me feel sick or dizzy.. Nevertheless, I have been on time, every day and haven’t missed any days at all..So many of my classmates have had at least 1 or two days off for whatever reason and I am still pushing on..

My teacher told me that I am in the top 3 of the class, so I guess that is a good thing..With only 11 of us in total though, i guess it really isn’t such a big accomplishment..At least I know I am trying my hardest.

..For the last 2 weeks we have had an extra hour added onto each day which has literally made it exhausting..25 hours of German is a lot! Tomorrow is the last 5 hour day however, so I am feeling a little happier about next week being back to only 20 hours.

I am not sure how worth it the course has been, due to the fact that I am still unable to understand people talking German, apart from when it is veeeeeeeeery slow and simple German..My vocabulary has at least increased a lot and I have learnt a lot of the grammar, which will be useful when trying to speak more.There are 3 weeks left before our final exam so I guess until then I will just have to wait and see if this A1 class of German was enough to enable me to get a small part time job. If not, then would it be worth me doing the A2 course next with the same teacher?! Who knows! I like my teacher but has she been good? I have no idea!!

Anyhow…. I hope this post wasn’t too rambly..If it was, I apologise..I am literally falling asleep as I write and I still have 4 pages of homework to do! It might just be power nap time…20 Minutes should hopefully refresh me, although to be completely honest, afternoon naps for me usually turn into 1 hour naps or more!!

Much love to you all ♥

Intensive language courses can be exhausting

Dear friends and fellow bloggers,

I apologise for being away from the blogging world recently. I am struggling to keep up with my new routine at the moment, so my YouTube videos on my channel have had priority, as well as the important decision to finally start German lessons.

Yes, I finally gave in!! I have signed up to an intensive 7 week course!

Hubby and I were discussing our future in Germany a few weeks ago and I was talking about whether moving back to the UK would be a good idea or not after all.

I still want to do my Art Therapy MA in the future, which I will now have to re-apply for, (as I have lost my unconditional offer after 2,5 years of not starting) however our life here in Germany has been good due to my husband’s job. It has provided security, health insurance & a cosy home. Germany has been extremely kind to me over the last 2,5 years.

Looking back on that time, I have come to realise that I needed these years away from full time work, in order to fully grieve the loss of my parents and in order to continue my healing journey. Grieving the loss of the healthy parents I never had was extremely painful, time consuming but absolutely necessary..Germany gave me that time..My husband’s work gave me that time..

In these 2,5 years I have:

1.grieved extensively

2.dealt with 1 last family drama when my father attempted suicide

3.gone no contact with my father

4.married my husband

5.started the gym

6.studied Cognitive Behavioural Coaching & completed my qualification as seen below 🙂

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7. continued my healing in therapy & achieved a new sense of freedom from this healing

8.grown in confidence

9.met some amazing bloggers which I am lucky enough to also call friends.

10.had EMDR therapy to minimise my emotional flashbacks & nightmares

11.learnt how to make homemade bread, homemade pizza & other vegetarian dishes for my hubby

12.learnt new creative hobbies

13.started blogging & vlogging

and finally 14. started learning German

Now it may seem VERY strange that learning German is the last thing on my list but there were many reasons for this. Firstly, it isn’t a language I particularly like and secondly it is a difficult language to learn.

The main reason for not learning straight away however, is because I was originally only going to stay in Germany for 6 months, whilst hubby settled in to his new job. I was then going to head back to Sheffield to start my Art Therapy MA.

When we realised that this would be a little too costly, whilst we were also preparing to get married, I then ended up defering my course and just stayed on in Germany for the full year. After I got married, I was thrown in the deep end in regards to family dramas with my parents, so ended up spending the next year grieving and suffering greatly with my CPTSD & depression. It’s incredible how big a part mental illness can take up in your life sometimes!

Germany has been very kind to me and for this I am grateful…My husband’s insurance covered all my therapy sessions over the last 2 years, which would have otherwise been very expensive or almost non existent if I was in the UK. I have taken baby steps in achieving goals I never thought I could achieve and I am currently in a very good place in regards to my mental health. Although I am still on anti-depressants and fortnightly therapy, I am feeling more at peace with myself as a person and have developed a new sense of self-compassion and confidence I never had before.

My decision to FINALLY start German lessons was because of the discussion of leaving Germany or staying. I thought that the only way to truly know if I could stay in Germany more long term, would be to give the language a try and hopefully get a part-time job.Having a part-time job would enable me to save money for a pension when I am old and wrinkly. At the moment I am not able to do this on a few hours of coaching with my new business.

I promised myself that I would give learning Germany my best try and if after completing the course I still didn’t feel confident in getting a job, then we would move back to the UK and start over.

These 2,5 years have been the longest time hubby and I have lived in one place without moving. Since we met almost 5 years ago, we have lived in many different towns and places. Now that we are nearly in our mid 30’s we would like to settle somewhere for longer and get a dog.

At the moment, Germany and specifically Bonn still feels like home.

I have completed 4 days of my intensive German course and I must admit it is incredibly tiring as there is so much to learn in a short space of time. Unfortunately with my CPTSD, I have problems with my memory so I have to repeat stuff over and over again until I can properly learn it..Although I attend classes every day for 4 hours, I still have to spend 3 hours just doing the homework at the end of each day.Today I have given myself the afternoon off to blog and just relax!

I am so glad it is Friday 🙂

So once again, I am sorry if I have been a bit distant dear friends..This will continue for the next 7 weeks but I will try and catch up each weekend with writing, as well as reading your posts!

Love Athina ♥

Illustrations of mental illness

Although this artist doesn’t depict all types of mental illness, some of these are very accurate and some illnesses I must admit I had never heard of.

I always admire truly talented artists, so had to share this link for all of you to see.

Some are very dark so they might be a little ***triggering*** for some of you, whilst some ilnesses are not included.

I’d love to hear your thoughts!

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Shawn Coss

 

This is the full list of illustrations in the link below:

http://www.boredpanda.com/for-inktober-i-focued-on-mental-illness-and-disorders/

Love Athina ♥

Mental health-Lets keep talking about it

Until I wait for the arrival of my new webcam, I am continuing to create text videos for my youtube subscibers. After having problems with the sound quality on my youtube videos, I wanted to invest in something that would offer my viewers something much better.

As today is World Mental Health Day, I created a video in honour of this day.

I live with mental illness every day and have done for most of my life, so it is important to keep talking about the importance of our mental health..

Much love

Athina ♥

 

What is LBD?

Happy Wednesday lovely readers & friends,

Just been feeling a little uninspired as of lately with writing posts here, so please forgive me for my absence.

Today’s post is about something that caught my attention and I felt the need to share it.

It is about a condition known as Lewy Body Dementia, which I wanted to raise awareness of after reading a post by Robin Williams’s widow.

This condition is apparently what led Robin Williams to take his own life, after suffering severely in the last months before his death.

So what is Lewy Body Dementia?

LBD is not a rare disease. It affects an estimated 1.4 million individuals and their families in the United States. Because LBD symptoms can closely resemble other more commonly known diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s, it is currently widely underdiagnosed. Many doctors or other medical professionals still are not familiar with LBD.

LBD is an umbrella term for two related diagnoses. LBD refers to both Parkinson’s disease dementia and dementia with Lewy bodies. The earliest symptoms of these two diseases differ, but reflect the same underlying biological changes in the brain. Over time, people with both diagnoses will develop very similar cognitive, physical, sleep, and behavioral symptoms.

What are the symptoms of this disease?

LBD is a an umbrella term for two related clinical diagnoses, dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinson’s disease dementia.

The latest clinical diagnostic criteria for dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) categorizes symptoms into three types, listed below.  A diagnosis of Parkinsons’ disease dementia (PDD) requires a well established diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease that later progresses into dementia, along with very similar features to DLB.  A rather arbirary time cutoff was established to differentiate between DLB and PDD.  People whose dementia occurs before or within 1 year of Parkinson’s symptoms are diagnosed with DLB.  People who have an existing diagnosis of Parkinson’s for more than a year and later develop dementia are diagnosed with PDD.

Central feature

  • Progressive dementia – deficits in attention and executive function are typical. Prominent memory impairment may not be evident in the early stages.

Core features

  • Fluctuating cognition with pronounced variations in attention and alertness.
  • Recurrent complex visual hallucinations, typically well formed and detailed.
  • Spontaneous features of parkinsonism.

Suggestive features

  • REM sleep behavior disorder (RBD), which can appear years before the onset of dementia and parkinsonism.
  • Severe sensitivity to neuroleptics occurs in up to 50% of LBD patients who take them.
  • Low dopamine transporter uptake in the brain’s basal ganglia as seen on SPECT and PET imaging scans.

Supportive features

  • Repeated falls and syncope (fainting).
  • Transient, unexplained loss of consciousness.
  • Autonomic dysfunction.
  • Hallucinations of other senses, like touch or hearing.
  • Visuospatial abnormalities.
  • Other psychiatric disturbances.

A clinical diagnosis of LBD can be probable or possible based on different symptom combinations.

A probable LBD diagnosis requires either:

  • Dementia plus two or more core features, or
  • Dementia plus one core feature and one or more suggestive features.

A possible LBD diagnosis requires:

  • Dementia plus one core feature, or
  • Dementia plus one or more suggestive features.

The above text has been directly sourced from: https://www.lbda.org/

Please check their website for more detailed information.

Love Athina ♥

 

Ritual abuse survivors are heroes

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Before starting this blog and my own journey of healing from child abuse, I had never come across Ritual abuse..I never knew there was such evil in this world..I knew about psychopaths and narcissists..I knew about some of the awful things that have happened to children who have suffered abuse.I know there are many paedophiles out there who live out their sick fantasies without any care for the long-lasting, life-altering effects on their victims.

The physical, emotional & sexual suffering that a lot of child abuse survivors have endured are known to many. Unfortunately, amongst those many people that have knowledge of this, nothing has been done..This is sad & unfair..

I actually felt guilty that I never knew about ritual abuse..This is something that people need to know about..It is despicable and incomprehensible to me that there are so many sick people out there that cause so much harm. No matter what someone feels or what perversions they may have, they are ultimately the ones that can stop their impulses to harm.

I have met many incredibly brave & awe inspiring survivors of this sort of abuse, who I have the privilege of calling my friends.I will soon be reading their memoirs and although it is very tough to read details of this sort of abuse, it is important to allow these brave survivors to tell their story. It is healing & it is necessary.

For those of you out there, who have experienced this sort of abuse, you are always welcome here. You an inspiration to me.

Much Love Athina ♥♥

 

The orphans of abuse

It took me such a long time through my journey of healing, to realise that I was always an orphan growing up..Yes, I had parents..Yes I was fed and clothed and had a roof over my head..Yes I went on holidays from the age of 3 until I was 16 with my family..Yes I had an education..It is more than most ‘genuine orphans’ had..Those who didn’t have their own home and were abandoned by their parents or lost their parents to death..who didn’t have their basic needs met due to poverty & illness..who were neglected severely..who changed foster homes time and time again..

I don’t claim to compare myself to those children and adult children..

When I talk about orphans of abuse, I mean the orphans who never felt loved by their parents..Who never felt supported or safe in their home..Who were never able to be true to themselves..Who were never able to grow up with confidence and inner stability..Who were never able to express their thoughts or feelings, due to fear of punishment or being ignored..

I talk about the emotional orphan..I am an emotional orphan..

This blog post is dedicated to all you emotional orphans out there, who never felt loved, who still feel that you can’t trust others or be loved..who still struggle with mental health problems..who never got the chance to choose your parents..who never had the opportunity to live without trauma..

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With the appropriate healing & support, you can find that love within yourself..Self-compassion is key to filling that emptiness..Grieving the lack of emotional comfort & love, is also crucial to healing..

Intolerance to vulnerability shows you that there are so many emotionally insensitive or incapable people out there, that refuse to talk about difficult emotions..

This isn’t healthy..It is dysfunctional..

Prevent emotional orphanhood…

Love Athina ♥♥

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