Mental Health Awareness Week: The Mental Health Foundation: Body Image 13th-19th May 2019

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(image: Mental Health Foundation)

This week, starting today is the Mental Health Awareness Week by the UK charity the Mental Health Foundation. Its theme is looking at Body Image, how we think and feel about our bodies.

Mental Health Foundation say ‘Body Image can affect us all at any age- during this week we are publishing new research and campaigning for change’    .

They continued,

Last year we found that 30% of all adults have felt so stressed by body image and appearance that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. That’s almost 1 in every 3 people.

Body image issues can affect all of us at any age and directly impact our mental health.

However there is still a lack of much-needed research and understanding around this.

As part of Mental Health Awareness Week:

  • We will be publishing the results of a UK-wide survey on body image and mental health.
  • We will look at body image issues across a lifetime – including how it affects children and young people, adults and people in later life.
  • We will also highlight how people can experience body image issues differently, including people of different ages, genders, ethnicities and sexualities.
  • We will use our research to continue campaigning for positive change and publish practical tools to help improve the nation’s relationship with their bodies.’
  • The good news is that we can tackle body image through what children are taught in schools, by the way we talk about our bodies on a daily basis and through policy change by governments across the UK.’

For more on how you can get involved see : https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/campaigns/mental-health-awareness-week

 

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Charlie Waller Memorial Trust puts on a ‘Best of Musicals’ Event in Londons West End: Guest blog

I love theatre and mental health, so what better than to combine them!
The Charlie Waller Memorial Trust, an incredible UK mental health charity are putting on a spectacular Best of Musicals event in London, to raise money for their vital work educating about depression and suicide prevention.

Amazing talent from both West End and Broadway and hosted by Tim Rice at the Hammersmith Eventim Apollo!

 

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CWMT was set up in 1997 in memory of Charlie Waller, a young man who took his own life whilst suffering from depression. CWMT raises awareness of depression and other mental health problems, and provides education and training to schools, universities, GPs, nurses and employers, encouraging those who need it to seek help.
Our vision is of a world where people understand and talk openly about depression, where young people know how to maintain wellbeing, and where the most appropriate treatment is available to everyone who needs it.

If you book through me, you get a 15 % discount! Code is ELECTRODEAL

Tickets at http://bestofmusicals.com

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/

My story of recovery from Alcoholism and Mental illness: Guest blog by Allen

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(image: https://www.rehab-recovery.co.uk)

My name is Allen and this is my recovery journey from alcoholism and mental illness.

On 12th October 2005 I had my last drink of alcohol and the following morning I was admitted to a psychiatric unit.  On reflection I didn’t know what was happening and had no clue what was happening emotionally, physically or mentally just that I was going into hospital for a short stay to get better.

Better from what? Whats happening to me? When can I go home? It was like a constant conversation in my head and I couldn’t turn it off.  Little did I know that I had been admitted because I was a risk to myself and others and I was going to be detoxed from alcohol and drugs.

I was never the world’s greatest drinker but I loved everything about alcohol and now know that since my teenage years,  alcohol was a constant in my life at home, in pubs, on the train to work, in the park, in the toilet, in secret or in the open and it had been that way since teenage life.

So I stayed in that psychiatric unit for 6 ½ months and I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2 (a mood disorder) and prescribed medication to deal with that.  Since that time, I have experienced two courses of electro convulsive therapy, Cognitive behavioural therapy, one to one counselling, 12 step programmes for drugs and alcohol,  taken anti-depressants and anti-psychotics and  read numerous self help books.

This week I will reach 13 years of sobriety- a great achievement considering I couldn’t go a day without alcohol. However,  2018 has seen me admitted into another psychiatric unit, following numerous suicide attempts and thoughts.

I received an additional diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder and a dawning realisation that I need to go way back to my early years to start to really understand me. Childhood / teenage trauma, bullying, substance and alcohol misuse, relationship problems, low self-esteem and lack of confidence, financial woes and debts mounted up.

The past 13 years have enabled me with the help of a twelve step programme to manage life, be as good a father as possible, to be a son, brother and uncle, and a friend.

I have been able to hold down a job and  study a degree in Psychology and Counselling,. I became a Mental health first aider and I suppose now I need to look at me and listen to others as to how I can manage my mental health and addiction. I can learn to be the best father I can be to my son and daughter, and focus on what I need to do to alter the cycle of mental illness that has plagued me for so long.  

Long term therapy seems to be the best option and I hopefully begin this process with an assessment very soon. I am so proud to be miles away from where I was in early 2018. Then, I asked a member of the Home Treatment Team (for crisis care) if I could go into hospital. I also shared for the first time that I have heard a voice for most of my life and the voice has made me harm myself.

I am now doing so much better and hope that therapy helps me to heal even more.

Allen is a writer, mental health first aider and mental health worker.

Gay Conversion Therapy in America and its toll on Mental Health by Nick Rudow

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(image: VectorStock)


In May of this year, Maryland became the 11th state in the USA to ban gay conversion therapy, a tactic often used by religious organizations to try to alter an individual’s sexual orientation or gender identity. While this news is comforting to many LGBTQ youth, gay conversion therapy is still legal and practiced in many states across the nation. Two new film releases this year, “The Miseducation of Cameron Post” and “Boy Erased,” are tackling this subject in authentic ways and bringing to light a practice that’s sadly as relevant as ever.

Its Toll on Mental Health

Often referred to as “reparative therapy,” gay conversion therapy has shown to exert a tremendous toll on a person’s mental health and lead them to depression and suicide. Conversion therapy is typically brought on by the parents of the individual, and they’re forced into it as a form of “punishment” for their sexuality. Research conducted at San Francisco State University found that LGBTQ youth who were rejected by their parents because of their sexual orientation were more than 8 times as likely to have attempted suicide.

Without the acceptance of their parents, LGBTQ youth have shown to develop self-hatred and remorse toward themselves, and gay conversion therapy perpetuates these feelings. Using methods such as inducing nausea, inflicting shame and even giving electric shocks to the individual, therapists attempt to “cure” them of their same-sex attraction and “correct” their behavior.

When LGBTQ teens are told they’re “sick” and need to be “saved” because of their sexuality, their mental health is significantly impacted. Counseling experts from Rutgers found “when language that is biased against LGBT individuals is used on a routine basis, it can have a cumulative effect that is damaging.”

 

Where We’re Seeing It Today

The history of gay conversion therapy spans centuries, with some psychiatrists using hypnosis to try to treat their LGBTQ paitents’ sexuality during the 18th century. But with the popularization of behavioral therapies in the 1960s and ‘70s, psychologists began coming up with new and frightening methods to try and “cure” someone’s homosexuality.

During the early 1970s, a psychologist named George Rekers published an article touting his treatments of homosexual patients as successful and revolutionary and used a 5-year-old patient of his as an example. The child, Kirk Murphy, showed stereotypically feminine traits, and his parents sent him to Rekers to “prevent” him from being a homosexual. Even though Rekers said it was a success, Murphy developed severe psychological distress and, as a gay adult, died by suicide at the age of 38.

With so many health and psychology organizations refuting gay conversion therapy practices, why is it still legal in a majority of states around the country and still practiced by religious groups every day?

The answer may lie in the negative way some religious communities view homosexuality and the amount of LGBTQ youth coming from anti-gay households. There are still several churches prohibiting same-sex marriage in the U.S. and many LGBT teens are left homeless after being kicked out of the house by their parents. Discrimination and violence against the LGBTQ community occurs daily in America, with the LGBTQ murder rate having increased by 90 percent last year. Eighty-eight LGBTQ homicides were reported between 2012 and 2015, according to research from Bradley University.

Even with gay conversion therapy organizations being banned in several states, many are still being operated around the USA. 

 

How We Can Do Better

According to researchers from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, an estimated 20,000 teens ages 13 to 17 will undergo conversion therapy in an attempt to change their sexual orientation. It’s vital that parents offer support and love to their children and never subject them to harmful gay conversion therapy treatments. There are several mental health resources available to LGBT youth such as The Trevor Project and services for those struggling with unsupportive families such as the GLBT National Hotline.

To all those suffering out there with feelings of worthlessness and self-hate, know that you’re not alone and there are people out there who can help you restore a positive outlook on life. No LGBTQ person should live in shame because of their sexuality or gender identity, and we need to recognize that and ban gay conversion therapy nationwide.

 
This article is by writer and activist Nick Rudow.

Its #TimetoTalk Suicide for STOP Suicide Charity: Mental Health Feature Article

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Today I have been featured in STOP Suicides Campaign for Time To Talk Day, alongside other campaigners who bravely share their stories about suicide or suicidal thoughts. The full article can be read at   http://www.stopsuicidepledge.org/its-timetotalk-suicide/ 

Here I include my story from the article. Thanks to all at STOP Suicide for giving me the opportunity. Remember you can talk about mental health :

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‘In 2013, I experienced a suicidal depression. I was incredibly low, exhausted, sleeping all day and couldn’t cope with life.

This was part of my bipolar disorder and my medications at the time were not holding my moods. My parents had recently divorced and I had moved house and finished a degree. Then, my Grandma passed away. The stress of all this tipped me over into a deep depression.

The truth is I didn’t want to die, I just couldn’t deal with the pain of living. It was incredibly difficult for my parents, because I would say to them ‘it would be better off if I wasn’t here’. I had so much emotional pain that the only way to manage it for me was to talk about how scared I felt about feeling suicidal. I was concerned that if I didn’t express it, that it could have been very dangerous for me- I didn’t want to die so talking was the only way out.

Thankfully this was hugely positive because my parents understood that the suicidal thoughts were the depression and not me inside. They let me express how I felt, provided a listening ear and used their own life experience to help me. They went with me to my psychiatrist and stayed with me during home appointments. They helped pick up my prescriptions for anti-depressants and looked after me, until I had been lifted out of the depression.

Having loved ones to talk to when I felt suicidal, to not feel alone and to have support every day was vital to my recovery.”