Recently I have been struggling and I know it’s important to reflect on this as I come out of it and pick myself up. There has been a significant reason for my drop in mental health, because along with the biological adjustments that are going on as I come off my medication I’ve been on for years, I’ve been under a lot of stress. It’s landed me with really low mood a lot of the time, high urges, anxiety and flashbacks.
I talked to my college support person, and she suggested I start writing again. The type of writing I keep to myself in my notebooks, not blogging or posting on social media, and my god has it helped a lot. I now know my thoughts. Often my dissociation from myself means I can’t think or have thoughts, it’s just white noise and silence in my head. By writing I’ve been able to acknowledge the things that are causing so much stress, and I don’t blame myself for struggling so much! There are a lot of big and dark things going on in my life right now that would tip any well person over the edge. I have done amazingly.
Writing has helped me scratch the surface of these big problems, and it seems there’s one common theme. I am taking on problems that aren’t even mine. I cannot control most of these environmental stresses, and there is no need to be worrying and spending so much time allowing them to trample all over me.
I’m now on a journey to focus on myself and the things that are going to help me. I’m getting my college work finished which enables my future, I’m planning my summer holidays and what jobs I will do. Keeping my physical health up is a good thing too, which is how my walks are benfitting me and giving me a good foundation to work from. My positive affirmation is I am worthy. You will be hearing from me again soon, see you next time.
I went to a mental health awareness walk on Saturday called Walking Out of Darkness run by the charity Clasp. There were several talkers including a several people suffering with mental illness themselves, the CEO of the Mental Health Foundation, and a woman who had lost her daughter to suicide 2 years ago. All amazing people with real stories. Then I recognised the people from Mind over Marathon come on which is the first mental health documentary shown on BBC 1.
Having seen one excerpt from the documentary, I knew I wanted to talk to Poppy. I didn’t even know what I wanted to say I just wanted to say something. I was scared though. Usually I’d be able to push that fear aside because I’m quite good with meeting new people but now looking back I know there must have been a reason I couldn’t or didn’t. I think it was that I knew what I was going to say and what we would inevitably talk about – mental illness – which is actually really hard. It’s reminded me that I still have a long way to go about speaking out. I may have this blog, and an Instagram account but they’re private to some extent and are mainly seem by people whose judgements can’t affect me in my day to day life. Admittedly, I do a lot less in real life. I fear judgement and rejection as a result of people finding out about my mental illness so I hide it. The thing is by doing that I perpetuate the stigma and reinforce it. There is still stigma within myself.
How do I go about breaking that? Well social media is a megaphone but I need to focus on those around me before I go screaming from the roof tops. I need to do more in real life and I think I know exactly how. Recently I have been deemed uncapable to look after children by a college teacher because they saw me wondering around very dissociated. I kept myself safe, did nothing wrong or dangerous yet still this is the second time they are questioning my abilities because of a mental illness they do not understand. I talked it through with Poppy and have now decided with the help of my mum what we will do. We are going to compare the accusations based on my mental illness with the equivalent accusation for a physical illness.
I will report back with what happens. I’ll be posting much more frequently from now onwards to the end of May. See you soon,
Ah CAMHS, reminiscing over CAMHS causes mild panic, disgust and some level gratitude for keeping me alive. Being new to CAMHS is like being sucked up by a whirlwind and waiting for them to plop you down somewhere whilst you get smashed in the face with new people and professionals and diagnoses. Many people detest it, however make up your own mind, don’t listen to everyone else. Whilst I was with CAMHS I found it very helpful and vital in my recovery. Looking back I can see the flaws and things I would have done differently if I was a professional, however I am not. And I am still thankful of them.
People get admitted to CAMHS for all different types of illnesses. And also for no illnesses at all. CAMHS help people who are: depressed, anxious, transgender, autistic, have ADHD, have a learning disability, have an eating disorder, have psychosis or schizophrenia, have bipolar disorder, have a personality disorder, have PTSD, dissociative disorders and more.
I was thinking of structuring this post addressing the new CAMHS go-er and some things you need to remember, and then some CAMHS vocab, because it’s a very strange world.
- Be honest. You need to be honest to get help, and they will listen.
- Trust them as much as you can, they do want to help
- They will not force you to tell them anything, however if you’re in danger please please speak out because they can help
- Do not stand for a bad therapist. If you feel victimised or discriminated against by any of the staff you need to speak out because you deserve better than that.
- It doesn’t matter that there’s trying to help you if you don’t help yourself.
- Your parents don’t need to know everything that goes on in sessions, except that when you are in danger they need to be involved in keeping you safe. However, if your parents are the ones struggling to come to terms with it, tell CAMHS. They are used to helping the parents as well as the child, they can explain things and are often listened to because they are professionals.
- Whatever illness, disorder, diagnosis or label you are given, that is not all there is to you.
- CAMHS – Child and adolescent mental health service
- Crisis – When you are high risk and need extra support to get through each day. Often someone will visit your house or call every day if you are on the crisis list and you can also access 24 hour phone support.
- Crisis team – The team of therapists who come and visit children and teens in crisis. They are involved temporarily during a time of high risk.
- Psychiatrist – A highly qualified professional in medicine who deals with the medical side of treatment. This involves prescribing medication and giving diagnoses.
- Psychologist – A highly qualified professional in psychology who help treat different mental illnesses or emotional difficulties with therapy.
- Section – When you are forced by the mental health act to be in hospital for a certain amount of time
- Therapist – Someone who specialises in helping people with certain conditions, illnesses and difficulties. Specific types include occupational therapists, play therapists and psychotherapists.
I hope that is helpful and informative as well as interesting.
See you next time,
Technology (specifically social media) has a lot of positive and negative effects on mental illness recovery; on one hand it offers a great way to find others going through similar things so coping strategies can be shared, however it is also very public and can impact others including young children as boundaries on the internet are not rigid.
I think I have worked out a good balance between technology and real life for myself. There are some apps that I use and find helpful, as well as real life hobbies and friends that create a good support system around me. I’m going to share 9 apps that help me in my recovery. I originally rambled about all of these but have now given the post some structure.
- Instagram – This is a social media platform you are likely to have heard of if not be on. I have had a recovery account on there for a year now and it helps me document my recovery and communicate with friends and other people also struggling with mental illness. I would recommend this if you’d like to be part of a community. It’d be worth reading my post about things I’ve learnt here if you are considering joining as there are lots of pros and cons.
- Pacifica – This is an app where you can track your mood, health habits, analyse thought patterns and set goals. There are also meditations to do and a small community where you can join chats. I use it as a diary card to keep track of things like my sleep, taking medication, social time etc. I also find working through the negative thought patterns really useful and has helped calm me down and rationalise in difficult moments.
- The Mighty – A website that shares blog posts written by people dealing with mental illness, chronic illness, rare illness, autism and other things in one way or another. I have found it a very accessible website and have seen some amazing writing. The way that the Mighty seeks to give these people a voice is amazing and something I love.
- Booster buddy – This is the first app I used to help me with my mental health. I’m not currently using it but you should definitely have a go with this app. The concept is you have a buddy who you have to help wake up each day by completing 3 tasks. It asks you questions at the beginning about what you struggle with so the tasks can be relevant. It’s really child friendly and also a lot of fun which is especially nice to start your day with. What I loved about this app was the reminders for medication you could add and also the collection of coping strategies that involved psychosis help and used lots of DBT methods!
- Breathe – This is a mediation app and the best one I have found so far. There’s a wide range of meditations to choose from and when you check in the most relevant ones are suggested. There is also a sticker and streak system which encourages you to meditate frequently, no matter how short a time. The length ranges from 3-20mins and you can by sets of extra meditations if you like.
- Flowy – This is a really clever app that is a game to help you slow your breathing. It’s helped me with panic attacks before and I would definitely recommend it to anyone struggling with anxiety.
- Fluidity – This is a visual app that has liquid you interact with when you touch it. I find this helps me with grounding and also when I get overwhelmed with sensory overload, this will help me calm down.
- What’s up? – This is an app who’s functions I haven’t been able to fully explore but it’s already clear it’s very helpful and good to use. There’s a selection of ‘in the moment’ activities which I find incredibly helpful with grounding myself.
- Relax melodies
I’ll talk again tomorrow, I hope you are inspired to look at your balance between technology and real life and maybe check out a few of these apps.
For several years I’ve struggled with insomnia quite badly. Fortunately, now with medication and a better understanding of myself, (like how I can cope with agitation, anxiety, hearing voices etc…) I get 8 hours sleep most nights.
Something I’ve been using a lot more recently is writing. Specifically things on my mind that are overwhelming me and maybe have been all day or for a long time. I find having it on one page helps me start to process it. I call it a worry page and it helps me calm down and get things out of my head so I can sleep better and have less disturbances each night.
It’s pretty basic but it helps me a great deal.
A week after sometimes I’ll look back at what I’ve written on my worry page. A lot of the worries are actually solved by then, or aren’t worrying me so much and that’s really good for me to see on paper. It’s encouraging to see that however big and important a problem seems, that changes quicker than you’d think.
I figured out that this worked for me by myself and I’m really proud I’m able to create my own coping strategies. It’s a really good thing anyone can try.
Hello there lovely people!
I’m going to start off this post by telling you the funny story of today’s April fools prank on my dad…
So, this morning I messaged my dad telling him me and my brother wouldn’t be able to spend the week with him as we had got a last minute place at a residential camp with air cadets. We were expecting him to not fall for it as we do one on him every year without fail HOWEVER it turned out we fooled him… probably because it was so believable as the exact same thing but with a shooting day happened only last week. I consider the success as a good bonding experience 😉
Now, onto the main topic. I’ve been thinking a lot about support. What support I have, what support I can give to others and the support I can give to myself. Whilst contemplating all of this I’ve focused on the present answers and things like gratitude instead of worthiness.
I have an amazing family and caring friends who I know will stick by me, I am so lucky for the amount of support and love I receive from others. I also have a great care team behind me which is still growing. I couldn’t ever wish for more.
The support I can give currently is limited as I have found I damage myself sometimes when trying to help someone else. I know that I need to get myself a positive circle of friends at college in September and that helping someone in the depths of mental illness because I care about them a lot is actually not best for me, and sometimes I need to put myself first.
Thinking about the support I can give to myself is where it gets interesting as I have a lot of resources to help myself that I have built up over time, however recently I’ve found a few new things (mainly online) so I will list a few…
- Watching informative but not triggering videos about mental illness, the more I understand, the better I can support myself.
- Staying in control of social media accounts and keeping away from negative influences is a big positive in my life.
- Downloading kids games. Great to unwind and they also teach you things like being caring, something that reminds me to take care of myself.
- A mood diary app to have a space to vent that’s private and protected, AND can easily be accessed no matter where I am.
- The ‘7 cups’ app where I can get extra support in a calming place.
- Lastly, an app I was recommended today by a lovely girl from 7 cups – ‘Stop, breathe & think’ – a meditation app I’ve fallen in love with where you can customise mindfulness exercises to your mood and how much time you have.
I hope you have all got some things to think about, remember you are your own person and you are STRONG.
I will be seeing you all again soon with some news on my treatment plan and future, notice how I mentioned college in this post, things are getting exciting.
On March 1st, it was self harm awareness day. Although I don’t always participate in mental illness awareness days I do love how its a great reason to get talking about such taboo topics. I do tend to gravitate towards psychosis awareness especially, however, I have never felt able to contribute because I don’t feel comfortable sharing my story.
As if that’s the only way you can spread awareness?!
Clearly I’d made an assumption that the only way to spread awareness was an obvious in-your-face kind of way like posting on your facebook profile about it. When I actually thought about it I realised there’s actually a lot of different ways I can help with fighting the stigma and you can too.
**Quickly an important thing to note. The one rule when spreading mental illness awareness is to put yourself first, and by that I mean only do what you are comfortable and okay with. It fits well with my recent realisation that going into group for the next module I need to walk in ready to focus on MY recovery, not helping everyone else. You always need to put yourself first when mental illness is in the equation.**
Things you can do to spread awareness…
•Share your own journey
•Show support to others who are sharing their journeys with a simple like, comment or share
•Share links or like pages that are for people affected by mental illnesses. Mind, b-eat and the voice collective are ones I’ve put out there for others to explore
•Post on awareness days (find out WHEN there are awareness days)
•Talk about mental illness with people, start conversations about it
•Stand up for people being discriminated against
•Raise money for charities supporting people affected by mental illnesses
Those are some things from big to small, never think you cant make a difference. Something I will be doing soon is sharing a part of my journey on tumblr anonymously. I want to reassure other people suffering from psychosis or schizophrenia that it is okay to fit the negative stereotype and we are not bad people because of what our illnesses have caused us to do.
Tomorrow I hope to post again as it will be the 6th March, a very special date that I would like to write about and reflect on some things (with it also being mothers day so do excuse me if I don’t manage to find time!)
Hope you are all well and enjoying yourselves,