Social Media

When it comes to campaigning about fair treatment for people with a mental illness, it’s essential that you remain non-judgemental. Allowing your emotions to takeover is only going to be to your detriment, and therefore as silly as it may sound it is best to write when you are in an appropriate state of mind. What is considered appropriate is up to you, but for me it is not allowing my emotions to get the better of me. In my moments of anger and upset it is quite possible that I would want to moan about someone or something that has happened, but what is that going to achieve? Sure, I feel satisfied that my blog has a record of my feelings, but why is that necessary?

For me on a personal level, this blog is not about social media, like Facebook. Clearly it is a form of social media, but the aim of this is not to ‘get revenge’ but to educate and help family, friends, acquaintances and strangers alike to understand things from my point of view. There is no right and wrong when it comes to a blog, but this is the choice I have decided upon, and there are boundaries I will not cross. I’ll say if I feel like rubbish, I’ll tell you that it is wrong to single someone out because they sink to the floor in a meeting during the midst of a panic attack, but I will not use a real-life example of mine unless it is to constructively show or demonstrate something.

Social media is a wonderful tool when it comes to heightening awareness of a subject, and it can lead to wonderful results when used correctly. Of course it can also backfire dramatically, and that is why I am so conscientious of this, because I want it to be a space where someone can feel like they can relate to my thoughts. This is why I have not spent much time promoting myself or trying to gain followers, because I am happy enough knowing that the odd person or two have benefited from my writing. At present I don’t know how to market myself, and so linking here and there is enough for me.

It’s obvious from my statistics (I monitor purely out of curiosity) that there are far more readers than commenters, and I am totally ok with that! I don’t require praise to write; I write about mental health because I want to have a positive influence on people and help raise understanding and awareness of it. Too many out there want likes and followers and that isn’t a just reason to fight a cause. Don’t get me wrong, the more people that you reach out to the better because you are having more of an impact, but that should not be why you are doing it in the first place. Playing the fame game puts you in a precarious position, and you could easily lose sight of why you are doing what you do in the first place.

With that in mind, I still want to encourage people to talk. It’s ok to admit that you feel anxious to a co-worker, or to tell your best friend that you are struggling to eat breakfast because of your eating disorder. It’s not ok to feel like you should hide such things because you are afraid of what others may think, and that is important when it comes to social media. You don’t have to share your battles on Facebook, but if you want to then go ahead and do it because the more support you have around you, the better.

Be strong. Be brave.  Always.

Devil

With a lot happening  for me at the moment it has been a while since I have had a chance to write a blog post, but I have had the chance to write this poem relating mainly to my recovery from anorexia. However, it is also relevant to other challenges I’ve faced hence the diversity of the wording. Also, I tried to end it on a positive note because let’s be honest, we all need hope in our lives!

 

Devil

 

You took away my freedom

You took away my pride

You made me feel great fear

Changed who I was inside

 

You took away my strength

You took away the pounds

You made me scream inside

Though I didn’t make a sound

 

You took away my happiness

You took my face that wore a smile

You made me into someone else

Changed me for a long long while

 

You tried to take my life

You tried to take my home

You did me so much damage

Yet now I know I’m not alone

 

I have my family and friends

I have them standing right here for me

You might have won a battle

Though I’m winning the war, you see

 

You are filled with nasty lies and hurt

A mere Devil in disguise

So I’ll tear you down forevermore

And once again I’ll rise!

 

Feedback is welcome.

 

Em x

Mental Health Awareness Week 2017

From 8th May until 14th May it is Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 aka #MHAW17. Campaigning for better awareness of mental health illnesses and for there to be less (preferably none- but we have to remain realistic) stigma attached to the subject is a huge deal to me, so I thought I’d use it as the topic for this latest post.

It’s understandable that people don’t know what to say sometimes, or they are afraid of offending you. It may even be the case that they say something inappropriate without malice behind their words because mental health is such a complex issue. I’ve learnt to cope with a lot of standard phrases that are said to me and not to react angrily (although I will admit to crying on more than one occasion!) but to try and see that people usually have good intentions.

From the perspective of someone who is in recovery from anorexia and is a healthy weight, hearing the phrase ‘You look well’ is something I have grown accustomed to. That nasty little creep on my shoulder tells me that this means ‘I AM FAT’ when in reality this is not the case and needs to be ignored. I don’t know my current weight because I no longer trust myself to own scales without obsessively weighing ten times a day. However, my Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) tells me that I don’t have to be aware of the number and also that I am within the healthy range. Healthy is good. Healthy means happiness for my family and also for myself, which is what keeps me eating meal after meal and not giving a damn if I eat chocolate or ice cream or cake or cookies! Before I digress, however, the point I am trying to make is that we should try and educate people on what is appropriate to say and what is not.

You also need to remember that there is no need to be ashamed of your experiences. I’ve lost count of the number of individuals who have told me either in person or in a message that they have experience of life with a mental illness or know somebody who has. All have and always will remain anonymous because it is their choice to tell their own story, not mine, but you can approach me whenever you wish to and I will always reply. None of us are immune to difficulties and to think otherwise, to think you are strong enough to tackle anything thrown at you and never develop a problem is extremely naïve. We are as vulnerable to developing a mental illness as we are to developing a physical illness.

Very often there is a reason for what feels like a break in our sanity; violence, sexual abuse, grief, debt or any kind of trauma that will weigh down upon you. Overcoming something that has had such a profound effect upon you is difficult and to therefore struggle to cope is completely fathomable. Just remember that it is ok to ask for help and to feel like you deserve support. Every life is sacred, no matter who you are. You deserve to be free of pain and to enjoy life just as much as anybody else!

Demi Lovato. Catherine Zeta Jones. Ruby Rose. Zosia Mamet. Amanda Seyfried. Ryan Reynolds. Wentworth Miller. Colin Farrell.

All they have in common is that they are all famous, right? Successful? Living the dream and always happy? Just simply put- perfect.

No.

In fact, every single one of those celebrities above have battled some form of mental health illness. I had a hard job picking out what names to write because there were so many (there is a link at the end of the post naming more) who had opened up about their battles and the list of names I stumbled upon was astounding. There is no such thing as the ‘perfect’ person, no matter what they look like, how much money they have, or how ‘loved’ they appear to be. At the end of the day we are all human and although we do not all exist and live in the same way we must remember that important fact.

Whether your illness is anxiety, depression, anorexia, bulimia, OCD, schizophrenia or any other affliction you need to know that you are not alone. Maybe you are surrounded by friends and family who appear to be achieving so much more than you are, but try your best not to compare. Maybe your achievements may seem small- getting out of bed and showered and dressed whereas your best friend holds down a full-time job and is getting married or having a baby, but so what? You may have faced demons that they haven’t and overcoming that is so much to be proud of!

I don’t want to end this post on a negative note because that isn’t useful for anyone, so my message is going to be one of hope. I’ve addressed quite a few subjects and I don’t want to leave anyone feeling like there is nowhere to turn, so here are some links for you. Some provide general information, some I have found helpful myself, and some I have looked into and researched for the sake of this blog and well-being of other individuals that I don’t necessarily know, but still care about. I’ll add to the list if requested.

Links

For someone who is struggling without help, please watch this video. Everyone deserves to get support- http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/news/north-east-news/mental-health-awareness-week-help-13006860

https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/helplines/

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/

http://www.newpathways.org.uk/sexual-assault-referral-centre/

http://thesurvivorstrust.org/

https://www.womensaid.org.uk/

http://www.cruse.org.uk/

http://www.glamourmagazine.co.uk/gallery/celebrities-talking-about-depression-anxiety-and-mental-health

Mental Health and Addiction

Originally this was a subject matter that I planned to tackle later on in my blog posts, but an email received from Marissa at www.drugrehab.com has led me to the decision to tackle it much earlier on. To quote the website based in America,

 

“Of the 23 million Americans struggling with addiction, nearly 14 million also suffer from some form of mental illness, either stemming from or leading to substance abuse.”

 

Whilst I am based in the UK, as an individual that works with statistics I can tell you that in other words that is essentially 61%. I’m sure you will agree this is a phenomenally large percentage considering that it is well over half. Whilst I am not stating this is an exact, accurate number, the fact is that there is overwhelming evidence to suggest that there is a link, at the very least, within a Westernized society.

Now, I am not telling everyone to go and throw out their prescribed medication. Mine helps me to function on a daily basis, and as someone who once had to take seventeen tablets a day, I totally advocate the use when advised by a medical professional. It should be noted that medication prescribed by a clinician can be fantastic and help to rapidly speed up recovery, but when abused, that is when the real problems begin.

With regards to prescribed medication, the need to take it can be hard to fathom if one holds the belief that recovery can be achieved through a simple change of mind-set. In fact, it can be almost impossible to explain. Moreover, if that person is too stubborn to even want to attempt to understand then it is a case of ‘radical acceptance’ (a DBT skill that teaches you to accept there are events and people which cannot be controlled or changed) and you should instead move on and do what is best for yourself with the right medical advice.

DBT, aka Dialectical Behavioural Therapy is something that I will address fully in other posts, because it cannot possibly be described with the recognition it deserves in a few words. Dr. Marsha Linehan, the founder of this relatively new branch of therapy is an idol of mine, for the obvious reason that her concept helps me on a day-to-day basis. However, for now I shall move on and continue with the subject matter in question.

We can be addicted to anything whether it is drugs, alcohol, food, sex or gambling to name just a few of the more widely known. I don’t want to bore you with facts but addiction is a craving, an obsession, a dependency upon something that very often can lead to destruction of our health, wealth, relationships or careers. They may seem like the answer to our prayers in the beginning, but are actually the devil in disguise, so to speak. There is no let up or break, and it is an all-consuming parasite that threatens one to their very core.

Denial usually plays a major part, often during the very early stages. Before you know it you can be relying on a behaviour to get you through the day, hiding your reliance from others, or if in the open them brushing it off as though it is a non-issue. Moreover, the point I am trying to make with my words today are that addiction is associated with the aforementioned subjects, but can also be an addiction to a coping mechanism. This is therefore when mental health can begin to play an important part either because of the addiction or a reason for it.

Unfortunately, tackling addiction alone is complex and often (although not always) impossible. As I stated in my last post, my first piece of advice would again be to talk to somebody. You don’t have to jump straight into approaching a professional, but a trusted family member or loved one if they are available. There are so many blogs and websites out there too where trained individuals will be able to point you in the right direction. If you don’t want to google it yourself because you are using a shared computer then send me an email with what you are looking for and I will do it for you with no problem at all. I can only lend an ear with regards to this, but looking up support meetings or phone numbers is something I can easily help with.

Some useful links once again are:

Talk to Frank- http://www.talktofrank.com/

Drug Rehab (as provided at the beginning of this post) www.drugrehab.com

and a list of withdrawl symptoms at https://www.drugrehab.com/addiction/withdrawal-symptoms/ for more information

 

Addiction and mental health section of Mind which provides many further useful links that you can access (I strongly recommend this list)-

http://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/guides-to-support-and-services/addiction-and-dependency/

Finally, I would like to leave you with a quote. Quotes are something that have given me strength to carry on after much trauma, and so I offer you this simple one that a very strong, inspirational and beautiful psychologist named Karen once said to me:

‘Be kind to yourself. You deserve it.’