Monday Update: Rethink and Thank You

This is just a short update post- I just want to thank everyone who visited my blog as a result of my Rethink article and everyone who read the article and found it useful!
It is always a pleasure to write for such an important and caring charity and I love writing and partnering with Rethink.

I have also been receiving some brilliant guest posts to my inbox which will start going up soon.

Thank you for making the Be Ur Own Light community the shining light that it is and is becoming.

Love from a cold, grey London but with warmth 🙂

thankyou

Surviving Depression and Suicidal thoughts: a blog for Rethink Mental Illness

beyourownlight
https://www.rethink.org/news-views/2016/12/surviving-depression-and-suicidal-thoughts

Thank you to Rethink for publishing my blog under a pseudonym, for the graphic and sharing my story of hope over adversity.

Rose is the blogger behind Be Your Own Light blog, which provides great articles about living with mental illness, from both herself and guest bloggers. Below she talks to us about how she has dealt with depression and suicidal thoughts. 

When I was 15 years old, I experienced my first depressive episode. I felt unable to leave the house or see friends as the depression brought about an increase in anxiety . My parents looked after me as best they could and I was taken to see an adolescent psychiatrist who put me on anti depressants coupled with therapy. I gradually got better again with time and managed to do well in my exams.

I was eventually hospitalised voluntarily after more periods of illness and at 16 years old, diagnosed with bipolar affective disorder. Understandably, the diagnosis changed my life. I am now 28 and have been taking medication since then. Not long ago, I survived a suicidal depression that I had in the winter of 2013, 6 months before I went into hospital.

At this time, It was apparent that for several years my medication was not controlling my low moods. I would get really depressed very quickly, feel overly emotional when stressed and felt like I had to hide myself away. I began sleeping too much to escape the inner turmoil and to get respite. Sleep became my balm and escape.

However, it was when I began sleeping from 9-5 pm with a quick break for food, not getting washed and dressed or answering my phone and not being able to get in to work, that the psychiatrist was called to the house to see me.

I remember crying and crying- in such pain in my mind. For me, the depression felt so chemical- I knew I needed to change my medication but I didn’t know why everything felt like ‘wading through treacle’. Why couldn’t I find the joy in life anymore, I asked myself? I just couldn’t cope with the painful negative thoughts and feelings and started thinking irrationally that I would be better off not here in the world.

These suicidal thoughts were extremely challenging to deal with.  I was so scared by them that I would tell my parents constantly how I was feeling. I wanted to get the thoughts out my head and so telling people became my salvation- I believe if I had bottled it up, I may not be here today.

Eventually, over time, my medical team worked together to put me on the right  medication- Lithium. The Lithium has changed and saved my life. My brain chemistry is stable, I no longer feel suicidal or depressed. I get up early in the morning and I want to do things with my day. This took a long time but to anyone feeling suicidal- please reach for help.

You can get better- it is your brain playing tricks on you with an illness. I want to spread a message of hope, recovery and survival- life can be dark but if you hold on there is hope. 

Guest Post by Richie: Dealing with anxiety, Live Your Now

everyday
(image:weheartit.com)

I was honoured to be asked to write a piece on anxiety for this wonderful blog.  I’m Richie, and I’m a mindfulness coach – one who happens to have had anxiety for as long as I can remember.  The thing is, I didn’t always know I had it.  I’ve been researching positive psychology methods etc for many years, but I wasn’t coping so headed to see a counsellor who referred me for a course of CBT after having pointed out – Sir, you have bad anxiety.

Me?

Yes I’d had panic attacks, people would describe me as quite reactive, amongst other things – and after all these years, to discover it was my “fight or flight” mechanism going into overdrive & attaching to situations in had no business being in, well, I was not impressed to say the least! How did I miss this? I felt initially extremely put out by this, I saw myself as a “fighter” – I got on with things, my panic attacks were just “stage fright” (I was in radio/music performance etc), my OCD a quirk of creativity and all that jazz! Right?

Wrong.

This is when I began to understand more fully the stigma associated to “mental health”. A somewhat wishy-washy term to people not familiar, or plain ignorant of the facts (as I myself was), as it’s often attributed to needing to just “chill out” or, “stop being so depressed” etc. At some point in life, many people will experience bouts of some kind of mental illness – after traumas, disappointments, or for some no seeming reason at all! But then, even the most healthy people can catch a cold.  And that’s the issue. Mental Health is a physical issue, that cannot be seen, and therefore for some is like trying to see oxygen.

My advice is simple on this matter; for brevity.

Acceptance & ownership

Firstly, accept it’s a physical thing, and take ownership and understand the physical things in the mind that are taking place. This helps separate you from the thought that you ARE your anxiety/depression etc. This is simply not the case.

If you catch a cold, you don’t say you ARE your cold. CBT helped me understand the mechanics of it, and have useful approaches, but for me (and we’re all different), I find mindfulness to have been the most helpful because it teaches to not identify as “being” depression/anxiety etc. This begins a process of dissociation of identifying as “being” depressed/anxious, and instead acceptance of what it is, how it functions, learning how it feels, and gradually gaining a level of understanding and feeling of when it’s occurring – and how it can shape/affect our feelings/emotions and therefore behaviours/reactions.

Experiment with techniques

Secondly, experiment with ways that can help you day to day – of course, seek professional help, but there’s also much that you can do independently. Breathing exercises (massively effective!), reminding yourself that the depression/anxiety doesn’t make you who you are, try things like mindfulness which teach us to detach from thought.

I also personally use meditations, guided or technological, hypnosis, even things like “EFT” (emotional freedom technique – or tapping), reading positive books, listening to uplifting music, and actively managing thought processes as and when I can.  Using mindfulness to compliment allows for being more in touch then, with which techniques are being more effective for you in the moment.

Is anxiety still there? Oh yes! But the more I practice these techniques (and you will find what works for you) and indeed, share them with others, the more aware I become of “anxiety”.

Reframing

Lastly; I have also reframed my anxiety, because without that fight or flight mechanism, our species would not likely still be here! So it’s important! It’s evolved in our species to protect us – and there are times that flood of adrenaline etc is critical. We certainly would not wish to be without it, but the chances a tiger is going to jump out and eat us are hopefully not too prevalent in your neighbourhood…

My experiences prompted me to begin @LiveYourNow & @Rmindrs on Twitter where I post daily mindfulness reminders, engage, and encourage others to talk – and hopefully create a few laughs too! (Laughter releases great neuro-chemicals!)

Be forgiving of yourself, understand you’re on a journey, and when you find things that help you, share them with others. The more we speak openly, the less stigma is attached, and the more others who may be suffering in silence may feel comforted and confident to speak out and seek assistance.  I have been witness to that now multiple times, and it’s truly a wonderful thing when we accompany each other, in compassion, on our healing journeys.

Thank you for reading! I hope it brings even just one person comfort/hope.

To your greatest life,

Richie – @LiveYourNow

Gratitude to you: with thanks

Recently I have been having the opportunity to grow my little blog here and it is amazingly being read around the world. From the UK to Israel, The USA and Canada to Australia, Italy, Germany, Spain,  Norway, Finland, Croatia, Monaco, Indonesia, India, Peru, China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Philippines, South Africa, Uruguay, Nigeria and Sudan.. I am amazed each day by where people are reading from and I am so so thankful. I write this not to brag but just because its so wonderful for me to reach people from different cultures. 🙂

We now have almost 60 dedicated WordPress followers, over 1,000 followers on Twitter, almost 700 in Instagram and 130 of my close friends and family on Facebook. This week, inspirational acid attack survivor Katie Piper liked one of our posts on Instagram about positive affirmation which was incredibly exciting!

We hope to grow the blog to spread light around the world for those suffering with mental health issues. I love receiving your supportive comments and sharing in online conversations with you all.

Today I am feeling so happy and thank you for engaging. I am also excited to announce a blog collaboration with Counsellors Cafe UK website, which will hopefully be posted in the next few weeks  and  Jewish Association of Mental Illness, who may be using my blog posts in the new year.

I am also thankful to Louie Rethink Mental Illness and Tim at Time to Change for getting me published before I even started publicising my blog.

With love xxxthankyou1

From Depression to Light: Life Lessons

For those who are new readers or don’t really know, I have been journalling for a long time- maybe since the age of 14 on and off. I have always sought to write and get my feelings down on paper. I was looking through some boxes the other day and came across the following ‘Future letter to myself’ from September 2010. I was 22 and reflecting on life and the journey I had been on from being diagnosed bipolar at 16, to falling in love and having my heart broken and travelling around the world. I had also been struggling with anxiety for a long time.

This ‘I have learnt’ list was partly inspired by the introduction to singer India Aries album ‘Love and Relationships’. The words are my own. I hope if you are feeling sad or if you are contemplating things in your own life that these words give you strength.

A letter to my future self, I have learnt (From 2010)

‘Dear future me

I sit here as a woman who has survived trauma and illness, travelled to 3 continents and got a university degree. I sit here as a woman who has survived a severely broken heart.

I have learnt that love is not enough.

I have learnt that just because everyone else does something doesn’t mean I have to.

I have learnt that I have inner reserves of strength.

I have learnt that a supportive family or network is everything.

I have learnt that loneliness is painful- but is part of life experience.

I have learnt that life is joy and pain and mundanity.

I have learnt that some people are meant to leave your life physically but leave an impression on your heart.

I have learnt that facing life takes a lot of courage.

I have learnt that we need the love of others. A person is not a person without other people.

I have learnt to assess character.

I have learnt not to fall too easily.

I have learnt that having a shattered heart or mind is painful but not the end.

I have learnt that the mind is incredibly powerful and we have to learn to master it.

I have learnt that food is good.

I have learnt that fears are blessings because by pushing through them we grow.

I have learnt about the power of the soul.

Be strong. Believe even at your saddest moments.

 

Time to Change- ‘Having Bipolar is not Shameful’.

This week, I achieved one of my dreams and goals to write a blog published by the anti discrimination charity ‘Time to Change’. They are a UK mental health charity partnered with Rethink and Mind, to tackle stigma against mental illness in the UK.

My blog was shared over 150 times and liked almost 500 times on Facebook, in the first day and a half. This is amazing. I have heard from people who are suicidal or struggling with bipolar and other mental health issues. I am so thankful to the charity for publishing it and giving me a platform to share my story.

You can read the blog here:

http://www.time-to-change.org.uk/blog/i-cannot-imagine-having-bipolar-without-support-networksarahtime