A Journey For Mind: A Challenge Complete.

On the 17th of June I began an optimistic journey. I’d set myself a challenge to walk one and a half million steps in ninety days for a charity close to my heart – Mind. I’d been used to walking, often setting upon long hikes to spend time in nature, but this was different. To do my once-a-week hike almost every day for ninety days was quite the challenge I had set myself… and after my first week of doing it, I was feeling it.

There’s a mental barrier we have to break through when setting upon any physical challenge. The body can only comfortably do what it’s used to, but pushing through this barrier is how we improve endurance and strength. It takes willpower to push through, and that I have in abundance. I remember likening this barrier to how I was feeling while recovering from PTSD. There was a barrier there that took me a while to break through.

“I can’t do this.”

“There’s no hope”  

“If I feel like I can’t do it, I should give up, right?”

Thoughts the majority of us have had while doing something challenging. The mind leans to the negative, often to protect us from the feeling of failure. Quit while you’re ahead – I believe the saying is. But what happens when you ignore these thoughts? What happens when you realise that you are capable? Greatness truly is on the other side of that barrier – it’s in the challenge and in those things that we’re afraid to do.

I broke through that barrier the same way that I did with PTSD – I focused and charged at it headfirst. I leant into the pain and pushed myself further. These things are easy to do when the cause is great enough. I had to recover from my mental illness, because it got to a point where there was no other option. I had to do it for those that loved me. As such, that’s how I carried on walking. The cause was greater than the strain on my body, which I would only endure and become stronger. The money I would raise would help those that once felt like me, and that was a cause greater than any.

I got off to a strong start with one of my favourite walks, Greenham Common. The bunker scene of Star Wars: The Force Awakens was actually filmed there, Millennium Falcon and everything!

Day two, I met a knight, just on his morning stroll in chainmail armour. Of course, I had to spark up a conversion and try on his gauntlet.

I spent much time at the local castle ruins and writing poetry while wandering the forests. 

I saw many a sunset on evening walks, releasing how serene and beautiful this world truly is.

And to finish my epic journey, I completed the challenge on the cliffs of Cornwall, while also visiting Tintagel castle, the birthplace of King Arthur.

My final result of the challenge-

Total steps walked: 1,501,172 / 1,500,000.

Total raised for Mind: £282 / my target of £200.

And that concludes my journey for Mind, and it certainly was a journey. I’m proud of myself for what I achieved. I know the money that I raised will go toward helping people that are struggling in the way I once did, and for that, I am grateful. Mind also helped me in a time that I was in need of guidance. If it wasn’t for them, I may have never got the help that I needed to recover. It’s in those moments that we’re at our lowest that we need someone to reach out to. It’s in those moments that sometimes it’s difficult to talk to those we know, and so we don’t receive the support we need – that’s why organisations like Mind are so important. They provide that first step to recovery and raise awareness to make these services more accessible.

For more information on Mind, check out their website: https://www.mind.org.uk

And you can see more about the challenge here: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/mychaoticmind

Walking for Mind – Day 0

Walking 1.5m steps in 90 days for Mind

I decided to start my challenge early, because I was both very eager and wanted to get some extra steps in. Being me, I went big for my first walk, achieving 25.13km and the first 30049 steps of the challenge… only 1,469,951 to go. 😆

I’ll be doing an update on my progress every Thursday. Thank you so much Nicola Lowe Author for your very kind donation. 😊

All donations go directly to a cause that’s very close to my heart, so if you would consider sponsoring, I will be forever grateful.


And I found these flowers! So glad I took my camera with me.

#mind #charity #mentalhealth #mentalhealthawareness

Poetry: Not Broken.

The war

in my mind

is just a reminder of why I fight

My enemies barely

brought me to my knees

Although bleeding

I was never broken

They couldn’t break me

They only shattered the fragile

shell of this

towering titan

On the cold ground I was reborn

a man


from his lonely reality

Although bleeding

I was only awoken.

It’s been three years now since I finished therapy for PTSD. I always remember because it’s close to my birthday. I’m always easily overwhelmed with emotion around this time of year, and tend to retreat within my writing. And thus, this piece of poetry was born.

But I think I was meant to go through everything I did, just so I could be the person I am now. I was broken, only so I could rebuild myself. It wasn’t easy… it’s never easy… but I’m here, and I will always fight.

I’m here to guide others that are struggling. I want to show people that there is hope. No matter how dark the world seems right now, in this moment, there is always hope.

#warrior #PTSD #NotBroken

5 Things that You May Not Know About Me.

I’ve been here for a while now. There’s a fair few of you following my ramblings, so for that, I want to say a big thank you. When I began my journey here, I wasn’t sure how long it would last, but then I guess I didn’t have much confidence in my ability. You have all given me the confidence I need to write and ramble here.

That brings me to the point of today’s post. I like to be open here, and for you all to know who I am. I like to think that perhaps you’ll find something useful, or something to gain inspiration or motivation from. So, here are 5 things that you may not know about me:

  • Probably one of the main reasons that I started this blog was for a distraction. I used to struggle with my mind to a point of being unable to cope. This was mostly due to ten years of PTSD. I blogged my recovery progress, although compared to my writing ability today, it’s not very well written. This became a place for me to vent and grow comfortable with sharing my struggles. I have to say, it absolutely worked. I am free of all those things that stopped me from being me.
  • Adding to my struggles with mental health, I have OCD. It’s easy to manage these days, but one thing you may have noticed in my fiction is a theme of “four”. Four is the number of times that I compulsively check something. Locking doors and checking doorhandles is the worst. My mind doesn’t seem to believe something is done, until it’s checked four times. This can obviously make writing a long process… and somehow, those spelling mistakes still creep through.
  • I’m vegan. This is a fairly new journey for me, but I thought I’d add it here, for people that purely follow my blog. I became vegan around six months ago, mainly because of personal beliefs, but am also amazed at how different I am feeling physically and mentally. I also love cooking, so that added challenge of making my favourite meals vegan has been an enjoyable process. I’ve also developed a better eating routine and a meal plan that free’s up a load of my time. It’s really been a huge and positive change for me. My weight stays optimal. I have loads of energy. I can think clearly. I’m calmer, and as a result, I can handle anxiety more easily. Good nutrition is a powerful thing.  
  • Whilst growing up, I had always wanted to be a guitarist in a band (I had long black hair and everything). I got my first guitar when I was sixteen, and have played on and off ever since. I can play to a decent level. My idol was Matt Heafy from Trivium, and the first song I learned to play was Like Light to the Flies. I also wrote songs and lyrics. This is probably where my creativity started, and it was another distraction for my mental health issues. Playing guitar, especially an electric, is a great release for anger and frustration, and teaches focus. I even got a letter published in Total Guitar magazine, during my teens. That was certainly a highlight of my angsty youth.
  •  I had learning difficulties when I was young. I was very slow to read and developed my writing ability later in life than most. I had never been diagnosed with dyslexia, but I needed a lot of extra help. Even at thirteen, I was yet to read a book. I remember it being frustrating times, and of course, I was singled out because of it. Believe it or not, but breaking out of the struggle all came down to teaching myself. The first book I read was Troy by Adele Geras, then I went on to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R Tolkein. I skipped school to read these, and went to the library instead… I was also quite a rebellious and stubborn teen, but it worked out for me… and trust me, I haven’t changed much.

Hope you found this post somewhat interesting. It’s still crazy to me that people follow my work and read my craziness. I love and appreciate you all.

(Also, if you haven’t had a look at my other project site yet, it’s right here: http://www.redefined-media.com.)

My Experience With PTSD Therapy. (Mental Health Awareness part- 3)

(Trigger warning and disclaimer: In the following blog post I will be discussing mental health in a variety of forms. If you feel like you may be triggered in any way, please do not read the article below. I understand completely. If you don’t wish to read on, but would like to talk to me about my experience with therapy or mental health in general, please do not hesitate to contact me at: Authorleea@outlook.com

Now for the disclaimer part. I am in no way a professional on the subject of mental health. The views expressed here are entirely from my own experience and my opinions based on those experiences. Mental illness manifests itself in many ways that can be different based on the individual. Do not take my experience as fact. If you are struggling, please seek help from a professional.)


Previous: (Part-1) (Part-2)

With the cognitive behavioural therapy finished, I was in a good place. I felt that my mood was better than it had been in a very long time. And with this, my anxieties dropped to almost none existent. (Which reminds me of something. When I first began therapy, I asked my therapist to make my anxiety go away. I now know that anxiety is a very natural and human thing. Anxiety is always there, in some shape or form. It’s something that is embedded into our system. What matters about anxiety is the level of it, and our ability to manage it.) From my CBT, I had learned many things and felt equipped to deal with my thoughts in a positive way. I felt different. I was me, but a different me. I felt confident in myself and my abilities. I felt happy. But despite this, something still lingered. There were still moments where my mood changed instantly. These moments wouldn’t last long, but they were intense and would often leave me feeling physically exhausted.

By this point, I was very comfortable talking with my therapist. The room in which we spoke had become somewhat of a sanctuary for me. It had become a place for me to vent and express concerns that I had with my own mind. I could never have imagined such a place at the beginning of my struggles. Such a place was out of my reach. But I got there in the end, and that’s what matters. In one of my final CBT sessions, I was asked if there was anything else bothering me. That was when my anxieties kicked in, for the first time in a little while. I realised, deep down, in the far corners of my mind, that something still lurked. I remained silent for a while, searching my mind for what was wrong. Through my CBT therapy, I had learned how to take my time with my thoughts and see them rationally, through questioning the negative. When I found the thought and the words to describe it, I explained what was bothering me.

After some positive analysis and discussion, we came to a conclusion. (I feel the need to note something here. One of my biggest fears about returning to therapy was that ideas and information were going to be forced on me. I was worried that my therapist would dictate what was wrong with me and how I should be feeling. Not once was this the case. Every conclusion that we reached was reached by me. Yes, my therapist would guide me through questions and agreed upon experiments, but every thought was my own, as was every conclusion.) We discovered that I was still having flash backs from a trauma that happened a while ago. These flash backs were triggered by a number of things. Perhaps I should tell you of the trauma, before anything else, so what follows makes sense. But I will make this brief and quite vague, for obvious reasons.

I was attacked by a large group of guys, on my way home from work one evening. I suffered multiple injuries to my face, arms and ribs. The attack was the result of mistaken identity. I tried to run but failed. I didn’t fight back.

(There was a time when that would have been impossible for me to write, or even think about writing. It is because of therapy that I received that I can access these thoughts without a negative emotional response. I will explain how this was achieved, I just needed to note this beforehand.)

After the conclusion was agreed upon, my therapist gave me the option of immediate PTSD therapy. I of course I accepted, but there was a risk of doing such a therapy immediately. Reopening metaphorical scars of the mind could have brought back the depression and anxiety that I had fought so hard to control through CBT. But I decided that the risk was worth taking. I wanted to fight all of my demons at once. I wanted to rid myself of the things that were holding me back.

The PTSD therapy began with a core method. This method was called reliving. I had to put myself back into that trauma. I had to feel everything again. I had to feel what the ground was like beneath my feet. I had to feel the temperature of the air around me. I had to hear their voices. I had to feel every punch and every hit. To do this, I had to talk in first person and not acknowledge my therapist, despite her guiding questions. I had to focus on an empty space in the room and clear my mind. I had to focus on recalling the memories that I had tried to erase. You see, the thing with the brain is… it doesn’t forget. Not a single event that happens in a lifetime is forgotten, it’s just put into storage. We can reclaim those events through extreme concentration.

The moments after reliving the trauma were… strange. I remembered parts of what I said, but only parts. It was like a dream, in a sense that the more I tried to remember about the recollection, the more I would forget. It felt like I had been talking for about fifteen minutes, but in reality, almost an hour and a half had passed. It was almost like I was in a trance. Which is interesting because I never thought that I would be susceptible to such a thing. (That’s not me be ignorant of hypnotherapy methods, I know they work… they just don’t work for everybody.) It took my eyes a while to adjust because the event happened in the dark. My body felt like it had been physically attacked once again. I felt dazed and confused. However, as part of the therapy, I had to bring an object to anchor me to reality. The object that I brought was a paperback version of my recently released book. This book was a reminder that I survived the attack and achieved something. It was a reminder of who I became after the attack. Holding my book in my hands brought me back to my reality.

Aside from letting my therapist know the details of the trauma, the main purpose of reliving was to record it (I used my phone, as that was the easiest option for me). As part of the therapy, I had to take that recording home and listen to it at least three times between sessions. Every time that I listened to it, I had to let my emotions flow naturally and try not to hold any back. Through doing this, I could highlight the key trigger points of the event. These trigger points were the moments that were stuck in my head. The parts that would force themselves forward during flashbacks.

When these trigger points were discovered, the following steps were to analyse them and break them down into the different emotions that I felt throughout. Through doing this, we could highlight the negative beliefs that I was clinging to. These were the things that were keeping the trauma active and making it surface in certain situations. For me, my negative beliefs were the following, and this is how I dealt with them.

  • I am weak- I believed that I was weak because I didn’t fight back. Through rationalising this with my therapist, I came to the conclusion that I wasn’t weak. I was strong. I was the better person for not wanting to harm them. Not only this but despite not fighting back, I survived and became the person that I am today. In many ways I was victorious.
  • I am a coward- I believed that I was a coward because I attempted to run. Through rationalising this with my therapist, I realised that this simply wasn’t true. I ran because my survival instinct kicked in. It was a fight or flight situation, and in that moment of fear, my instinct chose for me. It wasn’t a choice, it was my body and mind protecting itself. We all have this built in. It’s how we survived and evolved as humans many years ago.

PTSD happens because the logical sides of our brain, the hippocampus and the prefrontal cortex, aren’t communicating properly with our fear part of our brain, the amygdala. When we are reminded of the trauma, our amygdala activates, making us feel like we are back in that moment. And, because of the lack of communication from the other parts of the brain, there is no reasoning. For me, in these moments, I experienced a rush of adrenaline and anger. For example, upon seeing any group of guys that I would consider a threat, my body would automatically prepare itself for fight or flight. My muscles would tighten, and my heart would begin to pound in my chest, attempting to get blood to the most needed areas. This, of course, was quite exhausting for both my mind and body.

Through repetition of the trauma, I was able to become familiar with it, and through questioning it, I was able to understand it. And through this, my mind began to communicate more efficiently. By the fourth session of PTSD therapy, I had listened to that recording of myself reliving the trauma about ten times. Every time that I listened to it, the flashbacks lessened, and because of this, a lot of aches and pains stopped. I’m not going to pretend that this therapy was easy. It’s not. Just like CBT, it requires hard work and willing. But because I went through with it, I can now talk about the trauma without it affecting me. I can now walk past a reminder without my body tensing up. I feel like I have complete control once again. My mind feels clearer. In combination with the cognitive behaviour therapy, I was again feel like myself, but more than myself. I feel confident. I feel stronger. I feel capable. I feel like I can once again stand tall.


Hey everyone. Well, that turned out a lot longer than I expected, I just wanted to put in as much information as possible. I want to say a quick thank you for the support that I have received on this series. It means a lot to me that people are reading it. Not only am I writing this to inform people, but also as a kind of closure for myself. The next part will be the final piece on this subject, and I will be telling you all about the relapse prevention side of the therapy, as well as my final thoughts.

Lee A. Vockins.