Tag Archives: depression

Visible mental health

I know, what am I even talking about! Mental health isn’t visible… isn’t that the problem? Or when it is something you notice… do you understand what the symptoms are, what the ticks, clues are. How to help or react? Is is something you worry about in yourself or a family member.

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I was tasked with looking at whether social media is good for mental health as my feature in this weeks radio show. I normally do a shout out for people’s comments or stories for the show amongst my friends .. but I stopped. This was one subject I just didn’t feel comfortable asking of people. And yet I am a campaigner for visibility in mental health. Why then would I not want to offer people a platform to discuss their own experiences.

Because often the reason I know that someone else even has a mental health condition who isn’t already pretty close to me, is because it is being discussed in a closed group, in a safe environment. I want to normalise mental health discussions and I want to help people talk about it. And being able to discuss it in a safe group is the first step. I have writen a blog with my own struggles, but I am also secure in the knowledge that many of you don’t know me. And that you won’t bring it up with me. Because frankly when someone tells you they suffer with a mental health condition you want to know how to treat them. Are they telling you because they need to share it with someone or because you have been treating them in a way that isn’t cohesive with their condition and they want to help you understand so you can change how your interact with them ? Do you know anything about the condition, are you going to research it. Do you ask questions?

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One thing I do continuously find myself battling with personally, is what do you share with people, I mean at what point to you stop being a little ‘weird’ or ‘quirky’ and start becoming a liability. When do people start looking at you with other eyes, when do they stop mentioning things, inviting you to things, at what point to you drop to the bottom of the list because you have ‘issues’.

Social media is a wonderful thing in this respect, because it stops you feeling so isolated, you can join groups, you can find people who understand, who have been on similar paths, who have words of wisdom or advice, somewhere free of judgement, or at least if there is, it isn’t from someone you need to interact with again. It can even just be a place to vent away from prying ears. Social media is fantastic as it has broken barriers, it has opened doors, it has meant that geography is just numbers on a map, that you don’t have to go out to talk to someone, that you have potentially people to talk to at a moments notice, if needed.

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I love social media for these reasons, but on the other hand, it is incredibly isolating, not only for you, but for those around you. While you are emotionally investing in your new friends, who may live thousands of miles away, you are increasing the distance with your friends and family, co workers, peers, who are in close proximity but feel as if they are in a different galaxy. And conversely, may be able to share some of those same fears, and hopes that you are pouring into your virtual friendships.

Now, I am the first to say that the internet is not evil, it is a great tool, and does good things, but it can’t and won’t replace being able to pick up a phone, and invite someone out for a coffee. There is nothing really that will replace that social interaction and sometimes you genuinely need that human contact. If you are feeling isolated, or have moved to a new area, friends have moved into different phases of their life and don’t have time to meet, social media can be a great tool to meet new people. There has long been jokes about it being a dating site. Have a search on local groups, activities, see if there is anything you can join, be it a hobby you already have, an exercise class, or new skills. Being on social media often means people involved can start communicating and then it feels a little less daunting when you actually go to the group. You make new friends and learn new skills, or pick something up you didn’t do before. 

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So what I am trying to say, is that talking about mental illness is great, the only way to ‘normalise’ it in our society is to ensure that talking about it no no longer something we avoid, or find odd, difficult, or other. When we don’t talk about it, we never learn about it. Shutting it away makes it seem like a bad thing, something that should be covered up. And the internet is not only a powerful tool allowing you to seek advice, and find people who are empathise with you, to make connections. It is also a tool for people to educate themselves on mental health. We literally have all the information at our finger tips. We can and should educate ourselves. Be positive in all things.

Peace.

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This shit got serious

ooO get me being all sweary from the outset! Well this blog post is personal. I just really want to put this out there.

Mental health. We are all encouraged to talk about it, but many of us don’t know how much about it, be it our own or a friend/relatives. And no one wants to be the one to ask a question.

I was writing this blog in my head on the way home this evening, bought on by things that have happened recently, and I guess I just want to put it all down. To try and help people, as a cathartic exercise, and well, you know what it is my blog and if I want to write about me, I will 🙂

So many of my friends suffer from mental illness in one form or another, stress, anxiety, panic attacks, personality disorders, manic episodes, depression, PTSD – I could, but won’t go on. You get the picture, and because one of my stronger personality traits is laziness, you can do your own research on the matter – and draw your own conclusions.

You know the Robin William’s quote, those saddest on the inside try hardest to stay positive on the outside.. it is true for me. I have recently started a new job, which an insane workload, and a massive about of pressure. It has been commented on that I manage to stay upbeat and am not showing signs of stress. Yeah, you guessed it. I am one of those people who internalise. Everything. I don’t like to let the side down, or appear unable, or give people an extra problems. There is often a maelstrom of conflicting emotions rushing around, be it stress, a manic episode, sadness – the emotions are always extreme but  i try and project a positive vibe. Of course I can do that, yes that is amazing, no I don’t mind doing that for you, no, of course you pushing me out of the way isn’t a problem. Smile, and the world smiles with you.

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Like many people, I suffer from social anxiety, but am a people pleaser, I want to say yes to everything. I want to remain positive. I don’t want to let people down. But 2015 was an odd year, where there were plenty of good things, toward the end of the year, I found myself floundering, and had a massive anxiety attack and had to take some time out – my partner was away, and I pretty much locked myself away for 4 days. I didn’t mention it to anyone, I frankly lied about what had happened to everyone. I didn’t actually seek any help, I am sliding along a tightrope hoping that I can stay on top of it.

I haven’t admitted what happened really, to more that 3 people. Even my partner isn’t really aware of how bad it has got. Because, I don’t like admitting to weakness, and certainly when I am not sure how to deal with it. I am a logical person, and a problem solver. But where i can’t really see an end to the situation, and don’t feel talking will really help…. I have never in my life wanted to stay at home so badly. I even admitted nothing would make me happier than staying at home and looking after the cat. A stay at home cat mother is a thing, isn’t it? I sound glib, I don’t mean to be, something in side me was telling me to remove myself from a situation and someone in the grey matter, this was the solution.

I told 3 friends, together in an email – we are all close and it just … popped out in an email conversation. We don’t see each other as much as we used to – and it had gone from my constant organising and pulling together, planning to retreating a little and being unwilling – I don’t know if they noticed and I won’t ask. Cans of worms are not always made to be opened. I felt really bad when I blurted out my problems to the girls, because it is my burden, why should others have to deal with it. I ended up with private emails from all three, and I was crying – or trying not to cry because they are so supportive.

2015 was not a good year for my group of aforementioned friends, all 4 of us have gone through something. This isn’t my legitimising MH. Your mental health is important – it is important to realise when your are being stretched, when you need to take a break. Listen to your body, to your mind. Talk to people, you will find that people will be able to offer more support, advice, and experience.

I do think that we need to talk about it more. Not so everyone gets more worried about what they can and can’t say to their friends and family. I think that being more honest is healthier – it means that we can all be more understanding of our extended family, of people we meet. We all go through shit, we don’t always know how to deal with it. But having people who we can vent to, talk to, who we can admit defeat to. And something else before I sign off as I have realised how long this blog has gotten – this does not make you a weaker person. That is what it comes down to with me. I am always the first to offer help and support and the last to ask/accept. But admitting you aren’t coping, or need help, or just a break. It doesn’t detract from you as a whole. It really doesn’t.

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