MENTAL HEALTH (OF THE ENTIRE WORLD etc)

Hello peeps of the world.

Today is October 10th- WORLD mental health day.

The world is a BIG place with many humans in it, and many of those humans (probably far more I’d suspect than the usually cited 1 in 4) will have lived experience of mental ill health, ergo, they have experience, because they have lived out those illnesses in their life.

I have lived experience of mental ill health, but not the usual story of depression and anxiety.

I have a diagnosed personality disorder GASP

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I also have post-traumatic stress disorder

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And I am currently being evaluated by a new psychiatrist (the only mental health professionals permitted to make diagnostic decisions,) for a possible dissociative disorder.

Dissociative disorder….wait, what. What is that? I hear you say.

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A personality disorder? what does that mean?

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PTSD? But how can you have that, you haven’t been in a war have you??

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Those are the questions I would imagine you might be thinking, and I know this well, as this is how people usually react; with confused faces, puzzled faces, or quiet silences, indicating people are unsure what to say so are taking the (understandably) safest option and saying nothing.

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If you don’t have lived experience, or if you don’t know a close family member of friend who you have closely observed and tried to support during their illness, I guess it is absolutely understandable that you might be uncertain as to how to react.

People like me (the ones who are living with the mental illness) do understand that, and make allowances. I think in time we begin to assess (based on people’s reactions) whether we are disclosing and you are genuinely unsure as to how to respond sensitively and kindly and supportively, and those who genuinely act and think from a position and attitude of prejudice and stigma.

Both types of people exist, and people like me (the mental health illness sufferers) will inevitably bump into both types as we go about our daily lives.

It is sad that prejudice, stigma and negative attitudes towards mental ill health still exist, despite the efforts of many brave mentally unwell people to boldly speak out and attempt to overturn this societal bollocks.

I am not a fan of stigma, associated with many things. I have no issues with many ‘apparently controversial’ issues such as being openly transgender, same sex marriage, abortion, euthanasia…the list goes on. I would say I am fairly open minded, but not everyone is, and mental illness is a sticky issue that still is responded to differently (by some), in comparison with their physical illness equivalents, which are usually viewed without stigma or blame or judgement. There is a widespread acceptance of physical illness, that just doesn’t apply (seemingly) with mental illness.

Maybe there is some stigma associated with physical illness, but it relates to things such as lifestyle choices. ie. smokers costing the national health service in the UK far more than non-smokers, because of smoking-related illnesses and deaths. It is the same with blaming people for being alcohol dependant, or obese, or wanting cosmetic surgery on the NHS. But all that aside, people are not usually blamed in any way for becoming physically unwell, and are usually granted sympathy and compassionate attention.

Take how illness in the workplace is responded to. A friend of mine observed a HUGE difference in how her boss reacted when she cited mental health reasons for why she needed to take a day off, as opposed to when she was physically poorly.

If someone is physically poorly we might send them a get well card or even flowers or fruit. But if we are in the midst of a depressive episode, or having panic attacks, or even worse, psychotic, it would be very unusual to get a card or gift or offer of help, (unless they are very close friends and extremely fabulous, in which case you would reward them with plentiful hugs!).

If people are supportive when we explain that we are psychologically poorly, cynical bystanders might well think that we are putting on mental health symptoms to get attention, but people don’t usually judge people who are physically unwell as doing it, on purpose, to get attention.

We all know about the poorly voice people learn to put on during telephone conversations, when we are faking physical illness. School kids learn the poorly voice! It starts young, but even though we know that many days taken off work poorly are sickies, rather than cases of genuine illness, but that is the way of the world, so no one bats an eyelid at your skiving.

People make the assumption that if you are complaining of mental health symptoms, that you must inevitably be making them up, as an excuse, for attention, or to get out of doing things you don’t want to do (such as going to work), but this is NOT TRUE.

People who cite mental health symptoms as reasons for non-attendance at work, or avoidance of social or childcare or other responsibilities are viewed as skivers and attention seekers. REALITY CHECK> Anyone who cites mental health as the reason they cannot do something is very fucking BRAVE to do that, because, whether conscious or unintended, we are actively opposing stigma, and doing our bit to make attitudes in society more open minded, by choosing to be honest with people that we are very much NOT OKAY, and that is ok!!

People do not FAKE mental illness. Mental illness is hard to admit to. Yes, sure, things are improving, and mental health charities and the work they do play a large role in improving things for current and future generations, but it is still VERY DIFFICULT to openly express that our mental health is bad, and that we are emotionally struggling to cope. Mental illness is not a socially acceptable excuse, therefore why would anyone pretend they are mentally unwell, when they are not? It would make no sense. All you would be doing is making things potentially very socially awkward for yourself, so if I could get one message out there to society it would be:-

WHEN WE SAY WE ARE STRUGGLING WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS, PLEASE BELIEVE US!

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I talk about mental illness on my blog, and have written quite a bit for mental health charities in the UK (Mind and Time to Change). You can find links to their websites here, as well as Heads Together, (which is another charity affiliated with Mind, led by our British royals, William, Kate and Harry).

MIND WEBSITE

TIME TO CHANGE WEBSITE

HEADS TOGETHER WEBSITE

All are great sources of information, written in plain English by people who live with mental illness, in our own words.

These charities also have YouTube channels too, where you can watch clips of real people taking about their personal experiences of mental illness (and not just the usual ones such as anxiety and depression- I mean the whole spectrum of different disorders out there that dominate the lives of people who suffer with these emotional challenges.)  I would thoroughly recommend you take a look at these as there are so many interesting clips to watch….. (links below)

MIND YOUTUBE CHANNEL

TIME TO CHANGE YOUTUBE CHANNEL

HEADS TOGETHER YOUTUBE CHANNEL

In terms of my volunteering plans, I got a very exciting email yesterday asking me to speak at some mental health awareness talks in my area next month. I am delighted to be asked (!) particularly as I would like to challenge attitudes and widen people’s understanding of personality disorders and PTSD, and what those labels mean for the people who live with them. This is a fab opportunity and I will do what I can, but I am not the only person striving to improve things. I know there are MANY mental health bloggers and mental health charity media volunteers out there, who are doing an amazing job of fighting stigma by talking honestly and openly about their mental health challenges. WELL DONE! You are growing flowers as you tap the keys….

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I am about to sit down and watch a short film of a close blogger friend being interviewed about her mental health. This is something which aired on regional news in the morning bulletin (and I recorded), so I am very much looking forward to watching that, and feeling the positivity of being part of a movement who are paving the way for greater acceptance and compassion, so that no one with a mental health problem has to live it alone.

Happy mental health day to you all! and if you are not happy today because of your mental health, I feel your pain, as I’m feeling it too.

It is ok to be not ok X

[And not just on world mental health day].

summerSHINES©

 

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UNSTABLE FOR A REASON

I feel hungover today, but it has nothing at all with the consumption of alcohol. It’s a hungover type feeling generated by a lot of post-mental health relapse analysis going on. **TW

I haven’t hidden how much my illness has taken hold lately. I have honestly described it all, day by day, week by week; but today I am re-evaluating the past weeks/months in light of some new information.

Had I realised this info sooner, lots could be different. An important speech could have been delivered for one….that is the biggie. That is what I feel most sad and regretful about. But many other things could have worked out better, and gone smoother. I would have suffered less, and not felt so terrible in my own skin (to the extent I wanted to climb out of it via humanities last tragedy- suicide.)

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I did not attempt to take my own life…but I seriously thought about it. That’s me being honest. I thought about attempting lots and lots actually-such was the visceral intensity at times of that impulse to get away from what was bothering me, namely life.

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But today I know better. Today I know my relapse had a great deal to do with the meds mix-up- a mistake which could have had very dangerous consequences. If you read my previous post (The meds do work), you’ll know that last night I realised that the tablets I’ve been taking for three weeks (since I last collected my prescription) were at half the usual dose.

Last night I assumed it was the human error of a tired and overworked medical receptionist, so felt annoyed, but forgiving, but today as new information has come to light I know it has a lot to do everything to do with my last appointment where I saw my ex-psychiatrist.

Followers and friends will know that the last appointment with that doctor did NOT go well, and resulted in a formal complaint being logged against her by me. So she was not my favourite person, but despite time moving on and on Friday last week me meeting a new psychiatrist, (who knew nothing about me and treated me like a fresh patient, which was refreshing), I still cannot move on from those difficult memories associated with that particular doc, as it is due to her that the dosage was changed on my repeat prescriptions. This is what I want to do to her….

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I was informed by the medical receptionist, in a very confusing conversation, that the letter from my psychiatrist said 50mg on it, NOT 100mg, as it has been for some time. So the receptionists were just dispensing what it said on the letter.

I have no memory of telling her I wanted to reduce my dose, so the 50mg is a grave mistake (pun most def. intended).

Me being me, a bit dizzy and spaced out at the best of times, I didn’t check the tablets or packaging so only just realised they were the wrong ones last night. I will always ensure I check again in future, obvs!

What concerns me today, is that the letter was dated June, which is a long time ago….so how bloody long, I ask myself, have I been taking half of what I thought I was taking??!

It is probably even more than 3 weeks, and potentially a couple of months, or three even. NO WONDER I’VE BECOME EMOTIONALLY UNSTABLE!!

I am so bloody upset to find this out. I am reviewing my deterioration and how I’ve struggled, and I feel such resentment knowing this was partly avoidable, had my meds not been reduced like this (without my knowledge).

I didn’t get a copy of the letter sent in June, so had no way of knowing the dosage had been changed on the official clinical notes. UGH. This is crap!

I have felt a mix of relief, and horrible frustration. I know I can’t change the past, and the important thing is I now realise the mistake and can return to my previous dose, but I think I’m allowed to feel a bit pissed off for a day or two, especially as it will take me a good while to readjust to 100mg, and then go up to 150mg, which was what I’d agreed with the new psychiatrist on Friday.

I feel like my suffering might not have happened, and my suicidality would not have been this bad, and I wouldn’t have self-harmed (I have self-harmed three times lately). :(

Medication is so important to the lives of people with mental health conditions. It may not work for everyone, and some opt not to take the chemical cure, seeing it as a quick fix, but this experience shows me that I personally definitely need medication in my system, as I become very unwell on less, as evidenced by how much I have become depressed and anxious.

Tonight I’m just offloading. I don’t have anything clever to say. I just feel subdued and sad and fed up.

It would be great if I could manage without meds, but that just isn’t possible for me. It is dangerous to reduce or to cut out in my case. I honestly believe if I didn’t take my meds I wouldn’t survive, literally. I need these life savers, at a dose that suits me, and if that is unbalanced, I become unbalanced, evidently.

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The rebuild mission starts now. It will be gradual, but at least now I have hope, as I have a tangible explanation for what went so wrong lately, so I am no longer blaming myself and my illness and my trauma. I know it was the mucked up meds dose, all this time.

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Tonight I will enjoy the fact I’m back on my proper dose now, so I know I will sleep well, unlike the insomnia of the withdrawal effects of late. And I might cut myself a huge slab of cake too. I need cheering up!

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summerSHINES©

You can join in too, if you want a slice!

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THE MEDS *DO* WORK!

Think I have a potential idea as to why I’ve felt suicidal and so unbalanced lately.

It could have A LOT to do with the doctors only giving me HALF my usual dose of psych meds that I have unknowingly been taking for THREE WEEKS!!!!!

To anyone who says mental health drugs have no effect, do not cross me today!

Arrrrgh!!!!

SummerSHINES

Hopefully happiness is soon mine again! And for me, it comes in the form of three daily pills.

PATHOLOGICAL PUSHING

I have done a lot of pondering lately. Being an introvert, I favour reflection just as much as action. I have been an introvert (so far this year) who has actioned far too many things than my comfort zone would usually allow. There just hasn’t been enough time to reflect. I’ve just been doing, and never stopping, instead of being. And after so long of this life strategy I realise that this wandering away from my natural personality orientation is not emotionally healthy. Pushing ourselves is good, in small doses, but if that pushing becomes pathological, and merely the best attempt we can muster at an escape from our inner demons, it is nothing short of a harmful addiction.

I am all in favour of striving, and it sure beats languishing in our limited comfort zones forever, festering in our own [bored as a corpse] juices. Striving is what allows the confines of our personality to stretch. New thinking patterns and helpful positive habits can develop. Outdated shit coping strategies can be pruned away, making way for newer better ones, but there is a danger to this strategy, and the danger is psychological BURNOUT.

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Burnout is not a phenomena exclusive to CEOs and city bankers. In fact, I’d say burnout is a very normal reaction that many types of people can have, if you repeatedly exhaust your capabilities as well as paying scant attention to your personal boundaries; crossing and re-crossing those invisible inner lines that should just not be crossed.

I see people in danger of burnout, and people have seen that possibility in me. But the problem is, when people point out that you are placing yourself under lots of pressure and might want to consider possibly slowing down, our natural reaction is ‘SHUT UP. WHAT DO YOU KNOW?! I KNOW ME BETTER THAN ANYONE DOES, SO WIND YOUR NECK IN!!’

The thing with burnout, is that it is not up to us to point out if we think someone is perhaps heading in that direction, because that will provoke defensiveness. Burnout is therefore only realised when we are actually in it, and suffering from it- in other words, we can only see the risk of burnout, when we are already well into burning out! Anything before that point, and we can just say, ‘it’s ok, nothing to worry about, we’re just a bit tired, this is nothing that a good night’s sleep won’t fix.’

But we only realise we are maybe burned out, when we are pretty fucking far into that process of being burned out. We only realise we are burned out, if all the sleep in the world won’t cure our tiredness. We only realise we are burned out, when things that would usually be enjoyable for us, cease to be enjoyable. We only realise we are burned out, when we notice we are consistently using avoidance as a coping strategy to get us through our day. We only realise we are burned out, when anxiety about our day tomorrow, keeps us awake at night, tonight and most nights. We only realise we are burned out, when we realise we are socially retreating and getting easily pissed off and provoked by others. We only realise we are burned out, when it is impossible to be patient, with anyone, or with any task, for any reason, at any time.

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I know I am burned out, and also very depressed with it. People don’t understand that when we are depressed, that term stands for DEEP REST. We become depressed, when our minds, bodies and souls require DEEP REST. Depression is a mechanism by which we retreat from everything except our own pain, and we just lose any ability to be active. Depression is caused by burnout, but depression is also nature’s cure for burnout. Because to be depressed gives us that DEEP REST that we NEED.

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Depression is shit. It hurts. But it is evolutionary in basis, and a universal reaction to burnout and pathological pushing.

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I know people who push to pathological levels, fuelled on by invisible and usually unacknowledged addiction. I very much include myself in that category, therefore there is no judgement intended, only a worry that those people will be ok, as well as a worry I will be ok.

I am a pathological pusher. That is why I went to a job interview last week and attended an important meeting, pushing my current suicidality aside as though it wasn’t even there in the first place. My pathological pushing has led to me having more blogs and pieces of writing published this year than I can count on two hands. My pathological pushing meant that this year I have raised an unknown and very credible/heathy amount of money for mental health charities. I have been to Westminster, written two cracking speeches, organised a 3 day charity event involving lots of people, made contributions to reports and important policies, been interviewed on telly, and by someone very important (nationally). I also ran a 5k then a 10k, have progressed with my healing from PTSD/BPD, and then had lots of fab ideas for my future too.

But I am depressed today, and stuck in a state of requiring DEE—P—REST.

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The burnout can only be remedied now by the restorativeness of a depressive episode, but you know what, this is nice pleasant restoration. This is clinical bloody depression! This is life spent, feeling shit, most of the time- and nothing at all budging the epic shitiness. This is my punishment, and the pay off, for all my pathological pushing this year.

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So the depression means that I just cannot keep pace with my prior schedule of pushing, and instead, I become reacquainted with the joy misery of doing virtually nothing, and still feeling EXHAUSTED.

I cannot tell you how tired I actually am. Because that would be a very tedious blog post, but trust me, I’m tired!

Nothing will seemingly cure my tiredness, but I know this is only a reaction to my pathological pushing.

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Where does that tendency to pathologically push originate from?

These are my reasons……(identified during periods of very clever previous psychological introspection.)

I was born to three significant type A role models (my dad and my two big brothers). they were CONSTANTLY busy OR ill because of their previous busyness, so they were what made me think that this kind of self-pushing and striving was important and desirable.

I was born to a dad with a perfectionistic/narcissistic personality, who was affectionate conditionally, rather than unconditionally. His message to me and all his kids was…. ‘you only matter if you are impressing people, and if you don’t impress, you may as well accept you are an utterly USELESS human being who should possibly probably be shot for your ineffectiveness’.

I was born to a dad who…….yada yada.

I got all this from my abusive dad (and my repressed mum who just did what he wanted to keep the peace).

So if I know this unhelpful behaviour is all down to him and his influence, (as well as the influence of other key family members), why on earth can’t I just restore myself to factory settings, and delete my previous unhelpful conditioning?

Why can’t I just realise that pathological pushing leads to burnout?? ….and burnout leads to depression….and depression is SHIT.

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Why is that tremendously insightful insight, generated by perceptive self-analysis [due to tons of therapy] not enough?!

Feel free to tell me in the comments section, as I have no idea myself!

summerSHINES©

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MUTE THE NOISE

Tears are flowing as I type.

They have flowed all day.

Excessive tearfulness is one symptom of depression. I demonstrate many others.

I scare so easily too, and right now I am scared ALL THE TIME.

I admit it. This shit hole of a current existance is depression.

I am used to low mood, but the low mood usually lifts and my moods are variable and mercurial and I enjoy the ups and well as the downs. Lately my mood has not been variable. My mood has been stuck, in a bad place.

Someone please hold me hand until this passes. I need to make my way out of this alive.

Today I spent a considerable time contemplating an overdose, to the extent I told my husband of my (sketchy) plan.

To anyone who has not lived with serious mental illness, and BPD/PTSD, you will not understand me for saying I was considering this, and there is a likelihood you will negatively judge me for this. But it is not my job as a blogger to explain every damn detail of my symptomology and cope with the added prejudice of society.

So suspend your judgement, please.

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Stay positive? I am clinically depressed. Depression is an illness. I am currently very poorly with this add-on illness to my usual illnesses.

I have traits of BPD, the memory intrusions of PTSD, and right now, I am also majorly depressed.

I sat in the psychiatrist re-assessment appointment yesterday and I wondered how he couldn’t tell how depressed I was. Sure I was there, sporting a face full of makeup and smart clothing. I was smiling and laughing when it was appropriate to do so. I was highly intelligent, so he told me, and very finely tuned, aware of others and also my own internal states. The veneer was polished, my introspective abilities and ability to articulate myself emotionally was well developed, and I suspect he was very much taken in by that.

I am going to increase my dosage of my meds and he agreed that, but despite my ability to articulate myself fairly clearly I don’t know if I fully got across to him just how desperate I currently feel- in fact, I know I didn’t. Too concentrated I was on explaining my whole psychiatric history and ticking all the ‘good patient’ boxes, that I neglected to tell him about the extent of my current suicidality and hopelessness.

There was no time for me to explain my pain. My pain was put on the shelf, while he did his psychiatric thing.

I pressed my body as far back in the chair as it would go as time went on, to escape the incessant questioning and probing onslaught from him.

I said to him, “You must stop talking. Every single word you are saying is hurting my mind!”

So he shut up.

I silenced him, because the noise in my mind was deafening. But I couldn’t tell him that, as I was just trying to find some silence so I could become grounded once again.

The voices in my head were competing with his voice, as well as the inner commentary going on that originated from me and only me. His extra added noise was too noisy.

It is LOUD inside my mind, so to have questions repeatedly fired at me felt like someone throwing fireworks straight at my face, over and over.

My psychologist sat in the room to relax me. My difficulty with psychiatrists is well documented, as if my ability to make complaints. I need comforting presences there to soothe me. I also need people who are semi-objective and detached to provide some perspective when my emotional reasoning threatens to cloud my judgement and perceptions.

I got a doctor to shut up. Go me! I got a doctor to accept they are not perfect and sometime make mistakes. Go me! He even went and made me a coffee, just the way I like it, so I could sip it for the remainder of the mental health encounter to calm down so I could leave the appointment in a reasonably ok state. Go me.

That was good service from a NHS psychiatrist. I was impressed.

But I let him down I guess because I held a lot back. I held it all back, because of the pressure of being psychiatrically evaluated. We were unable to complete the full assessment due to me becoming overloaded and mentally shut down, so I will see him once more.

What I’ve done today is let it all out, every last drop of repressed emotion I have been harbouring yesterday and every other day.

It was released in my plentiful tears.

I have cried and cried and cried, and then cried some more.

I have cried alone. I have cried with my husband. I have cried in the arms of my children.

I had to tell them all that I have become poorly again with depression and that hopefully the increased tablets will help me to feel more like myself again soon and that I will get all the help I need from the doctor and my therapist.

The gorgeous creatures, (otherwise known as my children) know I had a disappointment yesterday. [I was knocked back for an important charity role I’d been interviewed for and really wanted to get.] Knock backs hurt. Knock backs make you question everything about yourself, or at least that’s the effect they have on me. Knock backs make me feel inferior, like I’ve missed the mark. Knock backs threaten my psyche and self esteem and muddy my shine.

I was born with a thin emotional skin. The personality factory had evidently run out of thick skins whenever it was that I was allocated mine.

I was maybe born during a national thick skin shortage?

The emotional skin I have is CRAP. I am highly sensitive.

Having skin as translucent and fragile as mine means knocks feel like dramatic body blows.

I’m out for the count. 1-2-3-4-5-6-7-8-9-10.

Stuck in my mind.

Deafened by the din that only I can hear.

The only clarity I have is that I have realised how depressed I truly am.

It is getting to the point where I have two choices. Hurt myself, as an outer expression of my inner pain, or fight for my life and my future.

I am still deciding.

Just let me lie here a while. I need to seek some silence to calm me.

There is no shame in tears as they are only washing me clean.

I want to find clean.

I need quiet.

In silence I hope I will find the answers I will seek.

Please someone- just mute the noise.

summerSHINES©

This song is what I’ve listened to on repeat over and over. I’ve lost myself in it…a beautiful song. X