World Suicide Prevention Day- 10th September 2017

I apologise that this post is a little late but with so much going on in my life at the moment it has been impossible to post before now. As it is such an important day in the year, however, I didn’t want the subject to be left totally behind, especially as suicide is such a taboo subject. Talking about death in general is not the easiest, and so the subject of suicide is even harder. You know what though? #itsoktotalk

Even as somebody who openly discusses mental health issues, I find suicide difficult to talk about. I’m not going to refer to myself much in this post so if that’s why you’re here then I’d stop reading now, because it just isn’t something that I’m willing to post about yet. However, this year’s theme is that it is ok to talk about suicide, so I’m going to do my best to talk about it as much as I can!

To quote the Samaritans website,

“More than 800,000 people take their lives each year across the world. In the UK and ROI, more than 6,000 people die by suicide a year – an average of 18 a day.”

Perhaps that doesn’t seem like a high number to you, but that is eighteen people who die, and many more who are affected as a result of their deaths. You see as wrong as it is to say suicide is selfish, it is right to say that the families and friends of those who commit suicide, those who successfully commit suicide and even those who attempt it, suffer to the greatest of magnitudes.

Also stated on the Samaritans website is that you don’t need to be an expert, you just need to be willing to listen. I’ve been fortunate enough to have many people in my life in addition to professionals who will just sit and let me talk with them, and I only wish that everyone could have the same. Picking up the phone and talking to a stranger can be so difficult and so that is why it is important for friends, family and acquaintances to be willing to check up on someone. That’s why it is important for mental health awareness in the workplace. That’s why it’s important for people to tell the truth when they are having a bad day and not just say, “I’m fine.” Easier said than done, I know.

It can be really difficult to tell people how awful you feel, and that’s the intrinsic root of the problem. Somehow it isn’t socially acceptable to talk about how rubbish we might feel, and so many find it easier or better to just lie and say they are ok, or maybe only give a half-truth. Even if someone is willing to say they feel depressed, perhaps they aren’t telling you the true extent to how terrible and atrocious they feel inside. They might not be planning to immediately harm themselves in your presence, but later on out of your company, who knows?

The point I am trying to make is that by taking away some of the stigma of conversing about mental health, maybe some lives could be saved. Maybe before it gets to the point where someone is standing on the edge of a building or ready to throw themselves off a bridge then something can be done to change that. Early intervention and prevention are better than facing the aftermath. There are people who can help, truly amazing Doctors, Social Workers, Nurses and all manners of people who will do their utmost best to try and get you back on track.

Compassion and warmth go a long long way to somebody in a fragile state, and they are far more welcome to someone in need than judgement and just general coldness. There is nothing wrong with putting others first once in a while in addition to thinking of our own mental well-being. Help out if you suspect something is wrong before it is too late.

Please, please PLEASE check out this link-

https://www.samaritans.org/media-centre/our-campaigns/world-suicide-prevention-day

It explains so well exactly what I am trying to but might be failing abysmally at!

As always, I’m always here.

 

Em x

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Anxiety

It’s been a while since my last post, and in all honesty I’d say that is likely down to my ever increasing anxiety. I’m anxious of how my writing is perceived, what people think when they look at me, the way that people interpret what I say and pretty much anything and everything. Anxiety is something that everyone will likely have experienced at some point in their life, but for somebody who suffers with it on a chronic basis, it can be so debilitating.

When you google the definition of anxiety, this is what is given:

‘A feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease about something with an uncertain outcome.’

Somehow, it feels like so much more than that though. It sounds too cold and clinical to truly describe how bad the feeling and thoughts can be. Anxiety is like being drowned in a fishbowl, or trapped in a lion’s cage, or stuck in a lift that just will not budge no matter how many times you frantically press the button. It’s frightening and every second feels like ten times longer than it should.

For me, my legs shake (and body in general), I bite my fingernails, I scratch my skin and I pull my hair out. My heart races. Many a time I have been in public and a friend or family member has tried to calm me down from such behaviours because they are so concerned. Even just writing this now makes me feel like I’m abnormal, when really this is such a common issue that should be discussed more widely because maybe then people wouldn’t feel so embarrassed. I both consciously and unconsciously act out these ways, and it’s one of the most frustrating feelings in the world. On a daily basis it can be so exhausting to have to try to control yourself.

Oh and what else? Panic attacks. They are so very common for so many individuals, and my heart goes out to you if you are one of them. I haven’t experienced one in nearly four months (I have the biggest cheesy smile on my face as I type this!) and quite frankly I am so grateful to the skills I have been taught in hospital that have helped prevent this. I no longer need to carry a paper bag with me everywhere that I go, and that is a relief in so many ways. By the way, a tip from my ex-psychologist, Catherine, is that the paper sweet bags you find in Tesco (if you live in the UK) can be great to use, and right now I can still see one on my bookshelf just in case I ever need one again!

My medication for my Generalised Anxiety Disorder (GAD) has been lowered very slightly recently, and at the moment I’m seeing how that goes. It can be tough to get medication right for each individual, and for me my overwhelming tiredness means I have to face the prospect of greater anxiety that I manage with skills rather than pills if I want to lead a normal, relatively stable life. I used to think that I had GAD as a result of anorexia, but now I think it is likely the two go hand-in-hand with one another, especially considering the fact that I still have such tremendous GAD symptoms at a healthy weight.

There is nothing I can say to take away that horrible feeling in your chest, throat, stomach or anywhere else in your body that your anxiety takes hold, but I can tell you this. Mindfulness is a fantastic tool in helping to overcome anxiety, as is just talking to somebody and seeking help in the first place, which can be a scary step to take. Even just having a look online and finding one of the tons of forums out there to speak to others, or reading articles. Not to mention that I’m always here too. It can be draining and unbearable, but there is always somewhere to turn if you need to seek help.

As usual, keep going forward with strength and perseverance towards recovery, because you all deserve happiness, you really honestly do!

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.