A Star Is Born, Lady Gagas Grammy and Mental Health by Eleanor

 

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(image: Google/ Lady Gaga)

Last year, a remake of the film A Star is Born was released; starring Lady Gaga as aspiring singer Ally who falls in love with veteran rock musician Jackson Maine (Bradley Cooper). I won’t ruin the film but it explores Jacksons drug and alcohol addiction and depression / suicidal thoughts- which is often prevalent in the music industry. Its also a love story- with Ally trying to save Jackson from himself and failing, despite him going to rehab, his depression and feelings of inadequacy take over.

It is a film so beautifully acted with such stunning music, that it won a Grammy this week for the original song Shallow (I believe written by Gaga and sung with Bradley Cooper). In Lady Gagas acceptance speech yesterday, she said that she was happy the film highlighted mental health issues and that it effects many artists out there in the industry and beyond. She asked us to reach out to people who are hurting and for those who have mental illness to also reach for support as so many struggle. An incredible thing to do on such a platform- thank you Gaga.

I saw the film twice at the cinema and both times it moved me so much I cried my eyes out- it touched my heart. He wont mind me mentioning, but my Dad, like myself has bipolar disorder and has had very severe depression in the past. I am grateful that he recovered and is still here to tell the tale- and me too. In 2013, I had a depression where I too wanted to give up on life. But i found a treatment to help me and I recovered with good medicine, therapy and support.

So this is a thank you to Lady Gaga, Bradley Cooper and all who made  A Star is Born for challenging the stigma around mental health and using art to be a beacon of hope in a difficult world. The Grammy is so well deserved!

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(image: E News/ Grammys. Lady Gaga accepting her Grammy for Shallow)

‘Im off the deep end

Watch as I dive in

Ill never meet the ground.

Crash through the surface

Where they can’t hurt us

We’re far from the shallow now’

Shallow- Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Living with ‘Quiet’ BPD- Guest post by Cordelia Moor for Time to Talk Day

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Trigger warning: talks about BPD symptoms

 

There are many misconceptions about having Borderline Personality Disorder/Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder.

I do not say that lightly, and I am more than a little convinced that most people who have BPD would agree with me. Personality disorders in general suffer under the stigma of being completely misunderstood by the majority of the general public. Hell, I completely misunderstood personality disorders until being told that I had one.

‘Ah’, said I. ‘That explains a lot. But not everything.’

And it did explain a lot. I thoroughly enjoy (in a very, very weird way) telling people that I am emotionally unstable. Diagnosed. Got the paperwork. Makes them quite uncomfortable, makes me cackle like a little pixie. Obviously, I don’t just go around telling strangers that, it’s always in context of the situation. But for some reason, although the people I love are more than happy to discuss depression and anxiety, when it comes to personality disorders they start ‘shuffling’.

But I’m not about to shy away from talking about BPD and my lived experience of it, because it’s only through understanding other people’s experiences that we learn anything.

I came here today to bust through one misconception in particular. One that I definitely held for a long time, and one that I only dropped when I read more about Borderline Personality Disorder and how it can manifest in different people.

Most people think of BPD as the person ‘acting out’.

They think of the disorder as being very outwards and visible. There’s horror story after horror story sensationalising the ‘classic’ borderline personality disorder on the internet – all written from the perspective of someone who doesn’t actually have it. But knows someone who does. It’s horrendous, and it’s awful, and it taints many people’s perceptions of what BPD actually is.

My lived experience is very different, and it wasn’t until I came across some articles on The Mighty detailing what ‘quiet’ BPD is that I truly began to understand how my brain works, and how my BPD manifests. This is not to say that it’s any ‘better’ than classic BPD.

This is just to say that nobody has the same lived experience as everyone else, and that’s why we need a mix of stories and voices all telling their own unique stories about the same disorders. That new coat of fresh paint on the same topic adds something to the narrative.

This is my lived experience.

For me, my BPD manifests itself internally. On the outside, I look reasonably ‘sane’ and ‘put together’. The inside is a maelstrom of thoughts and emotions that are hard to understand, hard to deal with, and consistent. Honestly, if I could crack my head open and let all the thoughts that are constantly throwing themselves around my brain out, everyone I know would be shocked.

I still have the same impulsivity, self-injurious behaviours, fears of being abandoned, mood swings, and black and white feeling that people with classic BPD have. But instead of ‘acting out’, I ‘act in’.

I often describe BPD as having no emotional skin. Where something might affect you slightly, it affects me completely. Like touching an exposed nerve ending, every feeling is intensely strong and always too much. It’s exhausting to always feel everything to such an intense level.

It does make relationships hard. But I don’t lash out at the person, I lash out at myself. It’s self-destructive in a way that nothing else really is. I’ve had to work very hard to keep my thoughts and feelings internal in the fear that if the people I love knew how I truly felt, they’d leave me immediately. My life is a constant whirlwind of convincing myself that everyone hates me, that everyone is going to leave, and then finding a rational moment and remembering that people don’t hate me.

I’ve been told enough times.

I want to believe I am a good person, but I don’t yet know if it’s true. Quiet BPD is just as hard to deal with as classic BPD, but you probably wouldn’t know it from the outside. I would never take out my feelings on people I know, because that’s just not me. I will, however, take them out on myself. I will distance myself from people without them realising why.  I will be trying, 90% of the time, to please people to make them like me.

It’s hard to admit what’s going on in my head. But it’s because it’s so hard that I do it, and I continue to push through and talk about the really difficult bits of mental illness. Without these conversations, none of us would know what people go through – and then we’ve got a problem.

This article was written by Cordelia Moor for Time to Talk Day 2019. Cordelia can be found at www.cordeliamoor.com

Beginning the Conversation: On my Mums Depression- Guest post by Sarah for Time to Talk Day

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Note : Please read with care- Trigger warning (suicidal thoughts)

When a topic of conversation hits the mainstream, it becomes easier to understand and it spawns more conversations. It snowballs.

Right now, we’re living in a time when society is more open than ever about mental health. Issues are not swept under the rug (as much as they used to be, at least), and life-changing conversations are being had. For me, these conversations on Time To Talk day tend to be amongst friends. It feels…easier, to be open with them.

But what about having a discussion with your parents? What is it like to talk about mental health with a mother or father who has struggled, or currently is struggling with their mental health?

It’s tough. I will tell you that now. But it is important.

I know this because my mum has had depression for 12 years. The best way that I can describe her depression, whilst remembering that every experience is unique, is that it is like a cloud. Some days it can be lighter, and almost brighter, though still casting some shade.

Other days it can be dark, foreboding, and cast its shadow over any and all. The darkest time for her, and for our family, was at the beginning of her depression. It was during that time that I nearly lost my mum at 14.

I could almost say that she actually was lost to our family, if only for a while. I lived with a woman who looked like her, and sounded like her. But her words and actions were foreign and strange to me. Her drive and her energy seemed to vanish overnight, and a woman sitting in the dark, who felt like she had nothing to give, took her place.

I remember going to school, walking past her open bedroom door and saying goodbye to her as she lay in bed. At that time, when I asked her if she would be getting up that day, the only response I heard was:

 

“No.”

 

Those conversations were short. They definitely weren’t sweet.

She struggled. I struggled. My brother struggled. My dad struggled. We were desperate for her to get better, and feared that she’d never make it out of the dark. Eventually, with help though, she did. But, while she is now in a better place, there are still highs and lows.

Because I was so young at the time, I never really spoke to my mum about her illness. Life carried on for me, and a new status quo emerged. But over time, we began to talk.

They still weren’t nice conversations, but they were a start. My mum told me how she felt suicidal, as she lay there in bed. At the time, she said it so matter-of-factly that it sounded blasé to my teenage ears. This revelation stung, and I couldn’t understand a simple question. Why?

Why would she want to do this to me? Why would she want to leave her two children without a mother? Why would she want to leave behind a husband who loved, cared for and adored her? These questions swam in my head for years, and I was incredibly angry with her as I saw it as some form of maternal betrayal. I thought she was selfish.

As I’ve gotten older and talked to her even more about this, my views have changed. I realised that my response was selfish. She explained to me that her depression made her feel so worthless, and so useless, that she would in fact be doing us all a favour by leaving our lives.

I’ve also realised that I’m incredibly lucky, because a lot of parents sadly succumb to this insidious disease. This needs to change.

That’s why I’m writing about this today.

That’s why I still talk to my mum about how she’s feeling. That’s why my brother calls me and lets me know when she’s feeling low, which is a common occurrence in winter for a lot of people with depression. As I live far from home, he reminds me that a quick conversation to ask about her day, tell her about mine, and maybe even make her laugh makes all the difference.

If you are, or have been in my situation, I urge you to talk to your mum or dad. I urge you to talk to your friends and family, because it can be a huge burden to carry alone. It’s like I said, when more people talk about something, it becomes easier to understand. When we understand the problem, we can start to treat it.

If you’d like to find out more about having these conversations, you can do so by visiting the Time To Talk website. They have a range of materials that can help you take that first step, and start talking.

This article was written by Sarah, a mental health writer for Time to Talk Day 2019. You can find her at : 

http://pandorashealth.co.uk/

https://twitter.com/PandoraHealth

www.instagram.com/pandorashealth/

Song of the Day: How I learnt to manage my Depression: Guest post by Mallory Gothelf for Time to Talk Day

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(image: BrainyQuote)

Hi, I’m Mallory and today I am sharing my story for Time to Talk Day .

From the ages of 15 to 17 I didn’t speak very often, and when I did, my voice came out stifled. With the onset of a depressive episode, one of the first things to go is my ability to speak. I find it difficult to form sentences, and utterly draining to have to speak out loud. Even writing becomes increasingly more difficult. My illness robs me of words, the tool I most often turn to when attempting to write and claim my story. I’m quick to shut down when I feel the rumbling of inner turmoil.

It makes it awfully difficult to communicate with me; friends and family often feel left on the outskirts, unsure of what to say or do. And even with improved coping mechanisms, and countless therapy sessions under my belt, I find that even a whiff of depression causes a knee-jerk reaction to shut the blinds, so nobody can see through me.

When I was in my first diagnosed year of depression, my brother started sending me a “song of the day”. He would email me a link to a YouTube video, with a song he hoped would tap into my inner workings. He believed that even muted by hopelessness and despair, there was one language that would break down my emotional barriers: music.

Each day I looked forward to the songs he would send, always carefully selected to reflect my struggle. We had created an emotional connection through lyrics and the kick of a bass.

Music has always been something that speaks to me on a level that feels deeper than some of my peers. I’m one of those people who wants you to be quiet when I’m showing you a new song, so as to fully appreciate its beauty. I’m one of those people who can feel goosebumps prick the surface of their skin, when the perfect note is sung. And I’m most certainly one of those people who can be propelled out of bed with a beat that you can actually feel in your veins. Music has always made sense to me, and I loved how my brother was able to tap into that piece of my identity, and speak to me when I didn’t have any words of my own to offer.

Fast forward to the present day, and I still find myself trapped in the thick brick walls that I have painstakingly built around myself. Knocking down walls that thick requires effort, and even if I want to let a person in, I can barely push the walls open wide enough for them to slip in. It has put a strain on many friendships, but one in particular really struggled from a lack of open communication. We came to what felt like a dead end in our discussion to improve communication. And that’s when I looked back and found a detour that would lead straight into my heart and mind. Music.

Most people have songs that spark an emotional reaction within. For me, music is strongly intertwined with memory and emotional energy. If I could pick one song each day to send to my friend, perhaps it would shed some light on my state of being. If she sent one back, maybe I would better understand where her mind was in that moment. It was a way to have intimate communication when words were difficult to find. I texted her my idea, hoping this would be enough to show her I was committed to growing, without having to emerge from my fortress too quickly.

We have sent each other songs back and forth, learning about one another from every track selected and played. We ask each other questions about what the song means to us in general, or at that specific point in time. We talk about how it may be the beat or the lyrics that drive that particular song home for us. We discuss topics we wouldn’t breath otherwise. It’s an invitation that says, “Hey, I want you to come closer. I want you to hear me and know me”. And there aren’t any rules. You can send multiple songs if that better captures your day. It’s an open process that lacks structure, empowering us to communicate freely, with love and understanding.

My walls still remain intact, but their structure is starting to weaken a bit. Some days I’ll still add more bricks, and others days I’ll knock a whole bunch loose. When robbed of my ability to use words, I lose all sense of connection to the world around me. Music throws a line of connection my way, and it’s helping me find healthy communication in my every day. If you ever meet me someday, I’d love to exchange songs, so we can really get to know one another.

Mallory told us: ‘I have had a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder, and Generalized Anxiety Disorder for 9 years. I was given both diagnoses at the age of 15. I have also more recently been given tentative diagnoses of disordered eating and OCD tendencies. I currently take medication for my anxiety, but no longer take antidepressants after years of painful side effects. I currently engage in therapy once a week, and follow a treatment plan that focuses on nutrition, exercise, meditation, DBT skills, and creative coping. I also want to acknowledge that I do not see anything wrong with medication, and it absolutely has a wonderful place in treating mental illness.’

Mallory Gothelf is a mental health advocate in recovery, a blogger at  https://www.theinfiniteproject-mallorysfight.com/ . 

She can be found online @mallorysfight

 

How I manage Anxiety and Psychosis : Guest post by Peter McDonnell for Time to Talk Day

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(image: Pinterest)

For Time to Talk Day, I want to share about my experiences of mental health. Yes, I have anxiety and yes, I have psychosis.  But no, I am not unhappy. On the contrary – I had a very good 2018.  And 2017, and 2016…lucky me. You see, I have learned how to manage them.  I learned how to manage them so they don’t bother me at all any more (he wrote, hoping not to invoke some sort of ‘commentators curse’) even if they do make me think of them many times each day.   I’ve worked hard and learned so much about how to be happy and live a normal life anyway. 

My diagnosis in 2001 was “cannabis induced psychosis with delusions of a grandiose nature” as worded by my first doctor.  It is the only diagnosis I ever had. Delusions of a grandiose nature meant, for me, that I thought I was the telepathic modern day Jesus- the only son of God, and was destined for the whole world to know it quite soon.  I picked up panic attacks in about 2004, which turned into general anxiety.  The panic attacks mostly stopped in about 2006 after giving up cannabis for good and being put on Clozapine.  Clozapine is used for people who are non – responsive to other drugs, it was described as a last resort and the phrase ‘miracle cure’ even got passed around.  Genuinely.  It worked incredibly well for me and I even think fondly of it – “my favourite drug”.

I work on a mental health ward now (four to be precise) part time, and I am always getting into chats about a multitude of experiences with the mental health system and recovery with patients and often with their parents who come to visit them.  It feels almost like a duty for me to do that.

I see patients/parents on the PICU (Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit) ward that don’t know what to expect in the coming years as they are often new to being in the system and it can be scary. I remember my mum saying to me two years ago – “When you first got ill I thought you might never recover or be able to live a normal life.”  So for parents it is worrying that a future like that might be on the cards for their offspring. And not knowing makes it worse.

 So how can I not try and give some information about that sort of thing?   

In a nutshell, some people (like myself) have a tough few years then begin a steady road to recovery, for me initiated by finding a very good medication.  Others are able to spend a few weeks or months on a mental health ward and then go back to their jobs and do really rather well. We are all different. 

This is a short post with limited room, so I’ll focus on what was for me the most important thing that enabled me to get on with my psychosis and anxiety – from managing them to not even caring that I have them.  

Perseverance – but please don’t look away!  Whether it’s just me or not I don’t know, but I often find that word difficult when reading a mental health article.  Maybe it’s because it implies that hard work is coming. But it has been what works for me from 2007 – 2014 while I was learning how to manage my illness.  

I had to push myself to socialise again and again, and my mum had to do the same. She trained as a psychiatric nurse a while back and is very smart. She knew that pushing me relentlessly for a long time was the best thing.  I went to social events even though I knew I’d hate them, for about three years. The worst part of it was that I knew if I gave in to the difficulties and stayed home the anxiety of having to go out would fall away – my mum really had to drag me out of the house sometimes.

 It made it easier in the beginning going to smaller events that were closer to home – that’s what I would tell myself in the first few difficult minutes. But I did always feel a little bit proud and encouraged when I got home – a feeling that stayed with me in a tiny but growing amount.  I had learned that these things honestly do get a bit easier each time, even though my panic attacks were very unpleasant, and thinking that “everyone at the restaurant can hear my negative thoughts, won’t like me for it and I’ll stick out like a sore thumb” didn’t help either.

So honesty time – I still think I have telepathic abilities – part of my illness, a belief that I just can’t shake off.  It surfaces on occasion when I’m watching TV or even in the middle of socialising. I have learned that going back to my likely imagined telepathic ways (part of my psychosis) just opens up a can of worms.  It’s not what I want. With the TV I can always change the channel which is at worst annoying but often I find something better to watch on another channel so who cares?

I rarely get these strange ideas of telepathic communication while socialising.  It’s like thinking that someone may have just heard one of my thoughts, and then I can hear in my mind what they thought about hearing that thought.  Sometimes it happens when I’m sitting on the loo. A person doesn’t need to be the object of my visual and auditory focus, though that’s when the communication seems strongest.  If I am socialising I just take a break  and this works fine. It’s my mind now, and I tell it to work for my benefit and it usually does.

I feel so lucky to have recovered so well.  I know that some people don’t. I owe so much to the simple but also difficult element of perseverance.  

 

About the author

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Peter is a writer who writes articles on his own website and also guest posts for other websites/ blogs.  He proudly wrote a 3500 word essay recently for The Taylor and Francis Psychosis Journal which they published in their 2018 edition.  He is also working on his book, a mental health memoir. Peter has several part time jobs.

His website is  petermcdonnellwriter.com

Twitter  @PeterMcDonnell_

https://mobile.twitter.com/PeterMcDonnell_

Facebook as Peter Edward Mcdonnell 

https://m.facebook.com/peter.e.mcdonnell

Living with and recovery from Anorexia and Bipolar Disorder: Guest post by Cara Lisette for Time to Talk Day

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(image: https://hacked.com)

My name is Cara and I have lived with mental illness since I became a teenager, and throughout that time there have been peaks and troughs. My main difficulties were always with my mood and my eating: on and off over the last 16 years I have been diagnosed with Anorexia Nervosa (eating disorder), and in 2015 I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder, a serious mood disorder.

I am somebody who many people wouldn’t realise has a mental illness. I have a responsible and somewhat stressful job, a house, a long term relationship, a degree and a large social circle. From the outside I look like I have everything together – and for a lot of the time these days I do.

But that hasn’t always been the case, and I thought it might be helpful to share some of the ways I manage my mental health and maintain my recovery.

 

Anorexia:

Anorexia is an illness, an eating disorder that works its way into every fibre of your being in a way that feels almost impossible to communicate, unless you have experienced how it feels to be in its grasp. Breaking away from it is by far the hardest thing I have probably had to do in my entire life; it was my crutch, my best friend and my enemy simultaneously.

Recovery didn’t come to me easily, it took years of therapy and hard work. I used every resource the Eating Disorders Team had available, but keeping my recovery going is up to me. The way I have to do this is to challenge the negative thoughts I have about myself and about food.

It’s not as easy as just ignoring them (although sometimes this is the best I can do) – I have to actively call them out and make myself believe that they are wrong. For me, the most helpful way I am able to do this is to frame how I feel about my body differently. I think about everything I have achieved in recovery and everything that I can now do that I couldn’t before.

I remind myself that I am able to explore the world, ride my bike in the summer, swim in the sea. I think about how lucky I am to have some amazing artwork on my body. I think about how it continues to forgive me time and time again for treating it so badly. I am grateful for my body and everything it does for me, and I am worth so much more than the space I take up.

 

Bipolar disorder:

When I was diagnosed with bipolar,) a mood disorder where you get manic and depressive states)  I felt a mixture of relieved and scared. Huge parts of my life now made sense and there were lots of new treatment options available to me, some of which have been life changing. But I knew this was something that I would never be free from, and that is a frightening thought. Bipolar is chronic and I had to learn to deal with that.

I am an optimistic person, and the way I look at it, I can either sit around being cross with the world about the cards I have been dealt, or I can dust myself off and get on with it. Yes, that does sometimes mean relapse is harder, because when I fall, I fall hard. But I absolutely do not want to be somebody who resigns myself to a life of being unwell when I know I can fight it and engage in recovery methods. I don’t believe that recovery is a choice necessarily because there are so, so many barriers to it. However, I do believe I have some agency over my wellbeing. I eat well, I exercise, I try to sleep enough. I take my medication, which is important to keep bipolar under control- and as the years go by I am getting better and better at reaching out when I am finding things difficult.

Inevitably, I will relapse again at some point, especially in times of stress. I know this and I accept this. All I can do is try my very best to stay positive, keep myself as well as I am able to, and to live my life as best as I can in between.

I truly believe that some level of recovery is possible for everybody. I hope that maybe, after reading this on Time to Talk Day and thinking about your recovery, that you might believe this too.

This article was written by Cara Lisette at caras-corner.com 

My Depression and Recovery: Guest post by David Welham for Time to Talk Day

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(image: https://8-images.blogspot.com/2018/04/depression-quotes-you-feel-like.html)

Trigger warning: discusses suicidal thoughts

Hi, I’m David and here is my story about depression and recovery for Time to Talk Day 2019.

I have had several bouts of depression over the years, it crept up on me without realising. The worst depression was in 2013, when my life came to a shuddering halt- almost like a train. My brain said to me ‘you need to stop‘. Unfortunately, I just didn’t listen to what my brain or body was telling me. That little voice told me so many times that I was not coping but stubbornly I carried on.

I didn’t look forward to work at the time and personal relationships were not good either. I ignored debts and neighbours were a nightmare as well, so I guess if you add all these up its little wonder something had to give. Day after day I felt sick, struggled to get out of bed and became irritable and generally not the person I wanted to be. I didn’t have the strength, or I was too proud to admit to anyone that there was a problem and not coping.

This is something that I and many others work hard to change. Not waiting until you hit the cliff edge and crisis point before seeking help.

Seeking help, admitting that I was ill and needed help was the first thing I had to do if I was to recover from what was the darkest period in my life.  By this time, I didn’t want to go out, exercise or do anything. Work was of no interest I just hit a brick wall and saw no way out. I spent days just doing nothing and my mental health became worse and worse. I was a dad and husband but just couldn’t function in any of these roles.

To all of you out there, I want you to understand that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and that you can recover. So, my message things will get better and I am evidence of this.

Once I had said to myself that I need help then that was the beginning. I admitted to my family that I had suicidal thoughts and went straight to my doctor. I broke down so many times that I never thought I would stop crying and be able to open up. I knew if I didn’t open up, I would never get better. I wanted to get better, I wanted to function again and be the best husband and dad that I could be. 

It hurt like hell, but I realised that this was all part of the process and normal in a way. It was recommended that I go on medication and CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) sessions. These sessions were so hard- I was digging deep into mind to try and get better, but this was making me worse. How could this be that I was talking about my experience but not getting better?

It wasn’t until I accepted that I had to find out the reasons for my depression and how I was going to deal with things in the future, that I began to recover.  I decided to have  family counselling and build in strategies and resilience for when I did feel down as I knew there would be times like these again, as depression often recurs.

I had a session a week of counselling and as part of my recovery process I bought a diary and wrote down how I felt each day, the positives, negatives and  what I did  or  who I spoke to. Keeping a record like this it helps.  I think that it is why I decided to put pen to paper as I saw it as part of my recovery process.

My advice is to write things down, talk about how you’re feeling and don’t bottle it up inside, however painful it is to open up. It is much better to talk a friend or someone who will listen.  Having someone that would listen to how I was feeling and not judge me -because I did feel guilty. I felt guilty that I was unable to cope at the time but now know that it is OK to have these feelings but not hold on to them.

My final message that I want to get across is that we all have bad days but make sure you talk about them and if you are feeling depressed or suicidal, seek help and you will get well again.

This article was written by David Welham for Time to Talk Day 2019

My Diagnosis of BPD and Stigma: Guest post by Jo for Time to Talk Day

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(image: https://www.newharbinger.com/blog)

Hi, I’m Jo and I’m diagnosed with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder), Depression and Anxiety. These all create problems for me in so many different ways.

I was first diagnosed with depression ten years ago at the age of 19 although I had been struggling for many years before hand. Getting help was a long road for me.

I had been hiding a lot of what I was going through from everyone until I couldn’t hold it in any longer. The pressure of hiding it made everything worse.

Talking about my problems was the start of getting the help I desperately needed. It was not an easy journey. There were many times when talking was the last thing I wanted to do and many times I just couldn’t bring myself to express myself. I felt all sorts of negative feelings towards myself about talking. I thought it made me weak, needy or a burden to those around me. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I really felt people would judge me for talking.

The stigma surrounding mental illness made me reluctant to be open. This is why Time to Talk Day is so important.

Since opening up to people about my mental illnesses I have been overwhelmed by the positive responses I have. It has led me to so many great opportunities including blogging, meeting my inspiration and finding some of my best friends. But it hasn’t always been easy to be honest about what I struggle with. The biggest difficulty I had was when I was first diagnosed with BPD about 6 years ago.

When I first discovered I had the diagnosis of BPD it was by accident. No one had ever said to me explicitly that I had this diagnosis or that they were even considering this as a diagnosis. Instead I found out through reading a copy of a letter sent from my psychiatrist to my GP. At that point I had little understanding of what BPD was. I’d only heard about it a few times and had no idea of the stigma surrounding this diagnosis nor what it meant for me.

I decided to ask my psychiatrist about it and she talked it through with me explaining how I fitted the criteria for diagnosis. She then asked me to read a book about the condition. It was awful. The book in question made the point that all people with BPD are manipulative. This made me so upset. I didn’t think I was manipulative. I decided there and then to not talk so openly about my BPD diagnosis.

This went on years. I told very few people that I had this diagnosis. Even my family were unaware. I couldn’t deal with them reading all the things I had read that about people with BPD. Then I met some others with the condition who were all round awesome people and my perspective changed. Maybe having this illness as a diagnosis wasn’t the end of the world. Maybe I could do something to help battle the stigma surrounding this mental illness.

I decided to share my story more and open up to those around me. I found some brilliant information from the Mind Charity’s website and armed with this I spoke out. I wanted people to understand I was still the same person just with a label. People needed to know we weren’t all bad.

Opening up about my mental illness led to me sharing blog posts and Facebook posts all about life with BPD and I heard from others who felt the same way or who were dealing with a mental illness diagnosis. It was great that people were fighting against the stigma. Also I met people who offered me a place to talk. A peer support network. Even if we just asked each other if we were OK.

Overall talking about my mental illnesses has led to many good things. And asking others how they feel is just as important to me. This Time to Talk Day we should be highlighting that if you have a mental illness- you are not alone.

This post was written by Jo for Time to Talk day 2019. She can be found at her blog: meandmymentalhealthmatters.wordpress.com

 

4 Helpful Treatment Options for those who suffer from PTSD- Guest post by Rachelle Wilber

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Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a serious mental health condition that affects people who’ve experienced major trauma events. Common among military service members who’ve fought in combat zones, PTSD can also affect people who’ve lived through other terrifying episodes that have resulted in physical and/or mental harm. If you believe that you suffer from PTSD, you can work with a therapist and try any of these four different treatment methods to overcome the condition.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

This type of therapy works to alter thought patterns that often cause people to relive the traumatic events in their minds. As Mayo Clinic states, the goal of cognitive behavioural therapy is to make you more aware of negative or inaccurate thoughts so that you can adopt a healthier perspective of challenging situations and respond in a better way. Undergoing this therapy may also help prevent relapses that could jeopardise your mental health.

Exposure Therapy

Your therapist may also try exposing you to things that trigger traumatic thoughts as a way to alleviate them. This is done in a safe way, and your mental health care provider will be there to help you process your thoughts and feelings and give you tools to overcome your anguish. You may be shown pictures, see writings or even revisit a place where the traumatic episode occurred. Gradually, these negative thoughts should lose their power and cause you less mental grief the more that you’re exposed to them.

Eye Movement Desensitizing and Reprocessing (EMDR)

Also known as EMDR therapy, this treatment method involves recalling distressing thoughts while a therapist’s fingers move in front of your face. You’ll be asked to follow these finger movements with your eyes while discussing your feelings, however, you generally won’t be required to talk about your thoughts in great detail.

Some therapists use foot or hand tapping or musical notes instead of finger movements in front of the face. This more active approach to therapy is intended to minimise the effects of bad thoughts.

Medication

Medication is sometimes prescribed by mental health professionals to work in conjunction with other types of therapy. Prozac, Zoloft and similar antidepressant medications are formulated to boost serotonin levels in the brain to alleviate negative thoughts and emotions. Your doctor may also prescribe Depakote to stabilize your moods. Prazosin often works well in stopping nightmares.

You don’t have to continue letting PTSD dominate a large part of your life. Seeking professional help and undergoing any of these therapies will likely give you positive results.

 

This article was written by freelance writer Rachelle Wilber from San Diego, California

What is Stigma? Guest post by Brandon Christensen

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What is Stigma?

Stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person apart from others. When a person is labelled by their mental illness they are often no longer seen as an individual, but as part of a stereotyped group. Negative attitudes and beliefs toward this group create prejudice, which can lead to negative actions and discrimination.

The sad truth is that mental illness is widely misunderstood. Those who suffer have been called names, been blamed for their condition, and isolated. Stigma, and the feeling of shame that it brings, often prevents people from seeking help and treatment for their disorder, even when it is desperately needed. It is crucial that all of us in the mental health community raise our voices and fight to eliminate stigma. If you are not sure where to get started, here are some of the best ways you can work towards reducing stigma in your community.

Ways to Reduce Stigma

1. Become educated and teach others about mental health

Educate yourself about mental health needs so that you are best equipped to discuss them openly! By learning the facts instead of the myths, you will be able to educate others. As you learn more, keep an eye out for opportunities to pass on the facts with friends, family members, or coworkers. If you see someone struggling, encourage them to seek the help of a professional therapist.

2. Encourage equality between physical and mental illness

Unfortunately, not everyone sees mental illness as important as it is, which is why it is so widely misunderstood. People would never shame someone who has the flu, so why does this happen with mental illness? Reminding people of the equality between physical and mental illness is a great way to reduce the stigma and find parity of esteem!

3. Show compassion and get involved

Always remember to treat people who have mental health problems with dignity and respect. Think about how you’d like others to act towards you if you were in the same situation. A simple act of asking a friend or family member how they are doing can make their day and remind them that you care. One of the best ways to show compassion within your community is to get involved with a local non-profit organization that’s working on Stigma Free initiatives!

4. Fight stigma when you see it

You probably see and hear stigma in the public more than you realize. Start paying attention to situations that might be perpetuating this. For example, if you see something online or out in your community that sheds negative light on mental illness, take action and say something rather than turning the other way. Make sure your words and language come from a place or caring and concern, rather than confrontation.

It is so important to the mental health community that progress is made in eliminating the stigma that still surrounds something everyone deals with in one way or another – mental health.

By coming together to fight this common cause, we can make a global impact on how disorders are perceived in society. No matter how you contribute to the movement, you can make a difference by following just one of the tips above and committing to live stigma free!

Author Bio

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(image: Brandon Christensen)

Brandon Christensen is a passionate business leader and mental health advocate who is on a mission to leave the world a better place than he found it. Brandon is the co-founder of Modern Therapy, a tele-mental health company. Brandon has been featured as a keynote speaker onmental health topics at colleges like NYU, Skidmore College, and Columbia University. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Ramapo College of New Jersey.

Website: www.moderntherapy.online

Instagram: @moderntherapyonline Facebook: moderntherapyonline Twitter: @_moderntherapy