Medisafe app review

When you have a long term or a chronic illness and need to take a variety of medications at different times of the day, it can be hard to keep track of it. You might even forget to take them, which isn’t ideal.

I’m on long term medication for mental health issues and joint pain and the amount of medication I need to take, at a specific time with a specific dose can overwhelm me. But, I’ve come across an app called Medisafe and I don’t think I can live without it now.

Medisafe is an app (on iOS and Android) that reminds you to take your medications at the correct time. It has a simple design with daily pill schedules which is divided into four sections – morning, afternoon, evening and night. It also has reminders to refill your medication too.

The app allows you to manually enter all your medications and the dose/frequency into the app and set up reminders for times that is required.

Getting a rather friendly notification on my phone from Medisafe really helps me to take my medication on time. It also has a feature to “Take all” so when you’ve clicked it, it confirms that you’ve taken the medication. If you haven’t taken it after the first reminder, it will remind you a few more times – which I find helps me even more if I don’t act the first time round. It’s nice to have another nudge.

I’ve used other reminder apps in the past, but they weren’t as simple and easy to use as Medisafe. The app keeps me organised and up to date on all my medications. I would highly recommend it, especially to those who are on medication long term.

‘Ana’ is not my friend

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Many of us with eating disorders, like to personify the illness as a separate person or voice. ‘Ana’ for Anorexia and ‘Mia’ for Bulimia. Don’t get me wrong; Ana is definitely not a ‘friend’ even though the internal voice I hear says otherwise. Personifying my eating disorder is definitely something that I found rather useful in my road to recovery.

When I was in the depths of my illness, I thought anorexia was ‘me’. I thought (and still think at times) that I was worthless and did not deserve to eat. Yes, there was a voice, but I did not know how to separate myself from this voice and so this was one of the reasons why I found it so hard to get better. I blamed myself. It was my fault.

By separating the illness from myself, did take that power away from the disorder. Talking back to ‘Ana’ gives us back the control we thought we needed; the right kind of control. Anorexia, for me, is a coping mechanism. It keeps me inside the comfort zone of my eating disorder. Therefore, the internal voice can easily become strong, loud and controlling and it can isolate you, in a very dangerous way. Listening to ‘Ana’ gave me a false sense of security when my treatment team wanted to help me. Ana did not want to get better. I wanted to get better, but Ana didn’t. So, everything my treatment team told me to do, I did the opposite. I became sicker.

I now know when Ana is prevalent. I learnt to become more aware of when she strikes and then talk back to it. Separating it from myself. For example, my dietician wants me to have full fat milk with my latte instead of ‘skinny’ skimmed milk. I wait in the queue for my turn in a coffee shop – there’s Ana in my head saying: “Habiba, you can’t have full fat milk with your latte. It’s FAT. You’re going to get fat. Don’t even go near it. A skinny latte is safe. Or, a black coffee. You don’t need the calories. You don’t need the fat.” Then, there is a more rational voice in my head, which I guess is the real me, saying: “Listen to your dietician. You need to get better. Have the full fat latte. You won’t get fat at all. You need the calories. You need to nourish your body. You deserve it.”

I talk back to ‘Ana’ saying I won’t listen to her and that she is wrong. I won’t get fat and I do need the calories. When I go against Ana, somehow the voice, the disorder, the power becomes small. It feels like I got one over the disorder. I feel powerful. I feel in control. Also, letting people know about Ana, can help too. That way, when the eating disorder is prevalent in your head, they would know and they can even help you separate yourself from the voice.

Personifying your eating disorder may not be for everyone. It is rather controversial in the eating disorder community – but it does help a lot of sufferers. It reminds me that, I am not my eating disorder. It is separate from me. An eating disorder is a mental illness. Not an identity. Ana is a liar and you now have a choice whether to listen to her or not.

This post was published in The Huffington Post.

#Take5ToBlog

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On 5th February, it is Time To Talk Day – a campaign by Time To Change to encourage people to talk about mental illness for five just minutes. As part of the campaign, Time to Change want people to share why they are taking part in the movement with just five sentences (above) and here are mine…

  1. My name is Habiba and I struggle with an eating disorder (anorexia), depression and anxiety.
  2. My mental illness has affected my life by making it rather difficult for me to do normal day to day activities because a voice in my head seems to control everything I say or do.
  3. My greatest source of support has been family (the ones who understand) and my friends who have always been there for me. Another strong support has been God and Music. Music has definitely helped me through some rough times. And believing in a higher power? Well, it is amazing what that can do.
  4. My hope for the future, in terms of talking about mental illness is that I would like to see more empathy, support and understanding for people with mental health problems.
  5. I am taking 5 on Time To Talk day because I am passionate about breaking the stigma of mental illness, especially in my culture where mental illness is not often talked about without bringing shame into the equation. Through my journey with mental illness, I want to inspire people and make them believe that it does get better.

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My experience with anorexia at university

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Having an eating disorder whilst being at university is not pleasant at all. It may seem like you need your eating disorder and therefore it is harder to let go but at the same time, you are destroying yourself.

Many anorexics and bulimics are perfectionists. I can vouch for that. Battling an eating disorder for many years has not stopped me from trying to achieve and be the best I can at everything, despite hearing a voice in my head telling me that I will fail at everything and that I must try harder. Every good grade I received at university was an achievement along with every pound I lost was an achievement and when they both happened together, I was on top of the world. Calories, weight and scales ruled my student life.

In lectures, the voice of anorexia frequently would appear out of no where telling me I need to listen more attentively or I look horrible and fat today and I should just go home now and exercise because I do not deserve to be out in public looking this awful. The voice is so overpowering that not listening to it rather impossible because it is so strong.

Being the perfectionist that I am or rather my eating disorder tells me to be, I did all my coursework weeks even months before it was due in. With no food, I thrived in the hunger and typed away at my laptop all day and night. If I received a grade I was not happy with, the voice would tell me that I am not good enough and I should just stop eating completely.

Socialising is another thing that my anorexia has prevented me from doing. Special events and course get‐togethers were terrifying because it usually involved food. Being around food scares me let alone eating it and therefore my chances of making friends has not been great at university but I have been lucky to have made a fair few supportive friends during my third year. The disorder was so strong that believe it or not, I did not eat anything inside campus for the three years I have been there. No one has seen me eat. Is that an achievement? My anorexia seems to think so – but it certainly isn’t.

All that seems pretty exhausting, does it not? To be honest, I have no idea how I am managed it. Being in and out of hospital and studying – it wasn’t easy. I don’t think anyone can comprehend how hard it is to have an eating disorder whilst also trying to juggle university at the same time. It has been a challenge. It is a very isolating thing to be dealing with.

My eating disorder did get me good grades in the past but not in a positive way. I would rather do it all again but without the voice of my eating disorder screaming at me. It demanded me to be the best at everything by doing things in an unhealthy, destructive way.

If you have an eating disorder and are at university this is not the way to live. It is such a waste of time and energy. You may feel like you are in control of your life but in actual fact, the disorder is controlling you. It keeps you from enjoying yourself and takes all your freedom of university life away.

Get help as soon as you can. Go to your mental health or counselling service at your university and let them know about your eating disorder so they can find the right tools to help you. If you have moved away for university, ask your GP to refer you somewhere near your university.

Get in touch with Student Minds (formally SRSH) who are a volunteer led charity for students. They work with hundreds of volunteers across the country to provide support to students with mental health problems. They run eating disorder support groups at different universities, which gives you the chance to talk to other students in similar situations. http://www.studentminds.org.uk/

Also, talk to someone at your university. A tutor, lecturer, a friend, flatmate – anyone who you can trust so they can know what is going on with you and can give you the support you need. Do not stay quiet or hide away because that would only just make your eating disorder stronger. Sometimes, you need someone else to tell you that everything is going to be okay and that you are not alone.

Childhood bullying affects adult life

ImageResearch has revealed that childhood bullying in school can still affect the individual in their 50’s. The study conducted by Kings College London found that children who were bullied in school are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts and poor physical health when they were 50 and over than those who were not bullied.

Professor Louise Arseneault, from the Institute of Psychiatry at King’s College, said: “We need to move away from any perception that bullying is just an inevitable part of growing up. Teachers, parents and policy-makers should be aware that what happens in the school playground can have long-term repercussions for children.”

That is where the problem lies. Schools claim to have a bullying policy but they are not aware of any bullying that happens and do not look into the long term effects. Bullying is a serious issue and something very close to my heart. It is such a traumatic and painful experience for any child who is being bullied and the long term effects of it is often overlooked. This study really rings true to me as from personal experience, I completely can relate.

Anyone of authority trying to tackle the issue of bullying must therefore take on board the impact of long-term psychological effects. If this was the case, then I do feel like the psychological long term effects of bullying would be minimised in adulthood, otherwise the consequences of bullying could be even more damaging for future generations. The way bullying and cyberbullying is tackled in this country should be thoroughly reviewed. We need to  ensure that children who are being bullied or have been bullied receive the psychological support they need.

5 Ways To Reduce Academic Stress

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Sometimes, I suddenly go through a writer’s block phase and I do not know what to write about. Usually, it is because I am stressed with university work. Academic stress is certainly something a lot of you are going through at the moment. A lot of people tell me they are surprised when I tell them I am stressed because apparently I am one of the most organised person they know. Well, I am stressed but I do cope with it pretty well I suppose. Here are my top tips on how to cope with stress…specifically academic stress.

1. Work-life/Social life/Study Balance – What I find that stresses out a lot of students is when they have other activities on their mind, such as a job or socialising along with their studies. For me, that would be such a stressful thing because not only do I have to worry about getting my assignments done on time but I also need to balance my work-life. I am lucky enough to not have to worry about that but I know a lot of people aren’t. If you can manage, I would say for now, reduce those commitments, so you have time to study. Of course, you need to socialise now and then. Please do, otherwise things will get on top of you. All work and no play is certainly not a great way to go about things.

2. Study Plan – I know a lot of people dread this but I find that keeping a study plan keeps me very organised and it actually satisfies me because I know exactly what I have completed and what I need to do and by when I need to do it. It keeps me grounded. A study plan is a very good way to reduce stress. List all your subjects and modules that you need to complete and by when. Then, give yourself a limited time to do it in. Do it one by one – going in order of deadline. This makes it more easier and clear for you to follow.

3. Keep Calm & Breath – Do some light exercises. Yoga and Pilates reduces stress and keeps you calm. Along with exercise, you must make sure you are eating well and getting enough sleep. Get at least 7 hours sleep a day. I would NOT suggest pulling all-nighters. I don’t know how people do it. Sleep is very important to reduce stress and prevent illnesses.

4. Ask For Help – This is something I find a lot of people struggle with. They don’t like to admit that they are stressed and actually need some professional help. Universities and colleges all have counselling services. A lot of people go to them during the exam period. It will be an extra way to reduce stress if you can talk to a professional about your worries because they are the ones who can help you manage your academic stress. Do not be afraid. Ask for help if you need it.

5. Lower Your Goals – It is easy for you to say you want the highest grade but make sure you are not setting yourself up for failure. The worst thing you can do is targeting yourself the highest grade, stressing yourself out to get that grade and in the end, failing to get it due to the pressure of it all. Be realistic. Set a goal that you will be satisfied with and is achievable for you. Look through your past grades and think about if the grade you want is achievable for your academic level.