Tag Archive | depression

Journalling for self expression day 5 part 1

For each of the top 5 things you identified in the last list, list 10 things you can do to gain control of the situation. Underline the top 3 from each list.

Part one:Worry about my partner

Things I can do:

1. Gain more control over my finances, especially by getting out of hospital as soon as I am ready as well as trying to send more money and visiting more often.

Part of this involves him getting a move to a closer prison so at least then I can come up on visits.  Six months without visits and support is a long time to go.

2. Write to my partner more often

At the moment, after a lot of nagging, my partner is writing to me regularly. Due to an arthritis flare-up and severe anxiety and depression, I have had really bad fatigue. I need to get better at juggling writing with rest. I also need to get better at asking for medications on request for pain, when I need it, which I usually do. I just hope that this makes a difference with my levels of pain and fatigue.

3. Be more honest about what I’m struggling with, to my partner and others

It helps so much Blogging and Tweeting about what’s on my mind. There is someone even more important that I need to speak to – my partner. He really loves me and wants to help, he wants to know how to help. Sometimes I’m not sure what will help me, but if I keep him informed of what is happening and advise him of the little things that make a difference [like today over the phone he read me out a page-long love poem] then he has a head-start on how to help me.

It’s hard to be honest sometimes knowing that if I’m too honest, I’ll leave him feeling worried, upset and powerless to do anything. Often I just tell him the partial truth when the full truth would leave him worried sick. In reality I need to make sure that he has the full facts in order that he can show greater understanding.

4. Work on my anxiety so that I could emotionally cope with a visit.

I have apps on my phone, books and websites I could use as well as a weekly appointment with a psychologist. My next big challenge is to spend most of next Wednesday in my flat, probably alone, which I’m really worried about how I’ll cope with.

I need to utilise what I’ve been taught and start to put it into practice. More on coping with anxiety soon.

5.Make sure that my partner continues to write to me regularly.

This sounds a bit unfair when I’m not writing to him as much as I used to. It does make such a huge difference though, hearing from him.

6. Encourage my partner to open up to me more often so that I know the real things that are bothering him instead of fearing the worst.

I always know when something is wrong with my partner so when he refuses to confide in me , not only does it hurt, but it also causes me to imagine that he is keeping something far worse from me than he usually actually is.

7, Accept compliments from my partner. Really let all the good things that he says sink in, instead of believing all the negative things from my childhood.

I’ve been put down for so long, by so many people, that I need to unlearn all of that stuff and keep in mind the kind things that my partner says instead

8. Speak to the Assisted Prison Visits Unit to discuss options for a visit to be planned and paid for in advance by them.

They usually very generously refund the cost of visits if you are on certain benefits/a low income and occasionally they offer this help for me, I need to find out whether this is an option for me within the next month or so. I miss him so much.

9. Write a letter to the prison governor supporting my partner’s request for a move to a prison closer to me

I’m hoping that after hearing the difficulties I face visiting my partner due to my disabilities that they will take pity on us and move him to a closer prison.

10. Once I’m out of hospital, maybe even before, start planning for mine and his future together. Things like visits, planning for our wedding and building a home together.

All I want from life, well my main aim really is to spend my life making mine and my partner’s dreams come true.

I’ve gone back and underlined the top 3 I want to try and have included an explanation of how I intend to follow them. Does anyone else have any ideas that I haven’t thought of? Or is anyone else struggling with similar issues? Get in touch in the comments section below or Tweet me @spursbythebeach. I look forward to hearing from you.

Journalling for self-expression…day 4

Well I’ve skipped a task again as I’d already kind of answered the last one, plus this task applied more two days ago when I first wrote it out in rough. Sorry for my delay in posting, my fatigue has been absolutely awful.

Make a list of things that you feel upset about right now. Write down as many as you can think of until you can’t think of anymore. Then choose the top 5:

Not being able to do everything that I want to do for myself:

From carrying myself a cup of tea (at home I have a hatch so don’t have to rely on the kindness of others) , to struggling with grooming, shopping and isolation because I struggle to get to places. Even at home, the local bus stop is minutes away from me but too far for me to get to without severe pain so I remain reliant on taxis or isolated in my own home.

Being on a psychiatric ward

In myself, I feel that this proves that I am weak, that I have given up, lost the fight. The atmosphere is tense at best, there is a lot of paranoia, including from me, which makes it an extremely difficult place to be. On top of that, it’s difficult to unwind, you can’t usually watch TV because of the constant background noise, even reading in your own room is a challenge. This is especially the case because if you do start spending a lot of time in your room then people assume you either have a problem with them or are being stuck-up. On the other hand, if you do come out you have to deal with everyone else’s problems and needs, as well as your own.

I’m worried about whether I’ll ever get to see my partner again.

It’s been 6 months and I miss him so much [especially as I’m typing this while we’re apart on Valentine’s day] . It’s hard because we get to talk so little, writing to him has been hard as my fatigue has been so bad and visits are impossible while I’m a psychiatric inpatient and my money has been cut as a result. Plus the thought of the journey then being trapped in a visiting room with loads of strangers, I just don’t know if I could do it. That thought makes me feel so guilty because I think I should be strong enough to do it for him. I miss him so much and I feel like a complete failure.

Waiting for the result of my hospital professionals’ meeting.

My anxiety about this is overwhelming and I am so convinced after two no’s from my previous assessments that it will be another no from them. If that happens my fear is that I’ll be stuck on a psychiatric ward long-term and I don’t think I could cope with that. My head is such a mess and I don’t see how I could cope alone in my flat without a decent level of support. The option of staying here long-term or being home without help, makes me want to cry.

My poor money-management.

I’m in debt, I’m trying to pay for my carer again because I couldn’t cope without her. I’m struggling to pay for the costs of my disability without Disability Living Allowance. The bills are mounting up and getting ignored, I’m getting chased for past debts and the whole thing is just making me feel ill.

My anxiety is causing me anxiety.

I’m either off my food or binge eating, I’m feeling sick and I just feel like crying all the time. I haven’t had panic attacks this bad since I was 19 (I’m 29 now). I just can’t cope. I can’t handle crowds (even small ones), I can’t handle being alone. It feels like life is impossible.

My paranoia is making me feel so depressed, I’m convinced that the whole world is plotting against me.

I don’t trust most people, I’m even convinced that my partner, who I adore, will get sick of me and leave me. All of the emotional abuse from my childhood is coming back to haunt me. My friends aren’t trusted to really care and I don’t even trust the food on the ward so I’m living on snacks. I’m terrified about what is happening to me.

Being many miles away from my family and friends.

I keep beating myself up for not working things out and managing to stay in London. I feel like I was happier and safer there. I wasn’t cured but I had more support and distraction, I was loved. My partner isn’t far from London and my entire family are over there, including my newborn niece. I feel like I’ve lost everything.

Negative comparison to others

I’m constantly beating myself up for not being a pro blogger by now (a year), a top published author, having the perfect figure and having finally got that Phd I’ve always dreamed of getting (when I didn’t even finish my degree). I compare myself to friends and family who have successful marriages with kids, and I compare myself to others who have talent, dream jobs or travelling opportunities.

Everyone is always on at me to be kinder to myself but I feel like to do that, I should be in a better place in my life rather than unemployed, stuck on a psychiatric ward.

Top 5

Picking the top 5 things that upset me is really difficult as all of the various things merge into one. If I had to pick, it would probably be:

1.Worry over my partner

2.Frustration over not being able to look after myself properly (physically and financially.

3. My CMHt assessment

4. My anxiety

5. My negative comparison to others.

Day 5’s task, is for each of the 5 things you identified (in the last task), list 10 things you can do to gain control of the situation then pick the top 3 things from each list.

As I want to include explanations with each possible solution before I make my choice I have decided to split each problem into a post on its own so there will be 5 posts linked to this one then later I will hopefully do a follow-up post/s letting you know how I got on with my solutions.

How would you deal with these problems? Are you struggling with similar difficulties? What are your ways of coping? You can comment below or Tweet me @spursbythebeach . I really do look forward to hearing from you.

Journalling for self-expression day 2

Write a letter to a person you are angry with. Say everything you are feeling and wish you had the nerve to say.

Dear David Cameron,

Thank you for helping to make my life even more of a misery than it already was.

Postcode lottery

First of all, your cuts to social care services make getting the help I need, near impossible. You make getting help from physical disabilities teams as well as Community Mental Health Teams, almost impossible. It has become a complete postcode lottery.

When it works

In some places, having a mental illness, full stop, means that you can get the help you need, especially without having to become a psychiatric hospital inpatient.

On the two occasions I’ve returned briefly to London, I’ve found good preventative measures in place that are simply non-existent in Wales. Ideas like the south-west London recovery college, this runs courses on better management of your mental health condition, as well as more therapeutic classes such as how to tell your story and journalling for self-expression (see my previous post) https://brokenglassshimmers.wordpress.com/2015/02/01/mental-health-recovery-idea-journalling-for-self-expression-day/ .

In Islington they have come up with the fantastic idea of having crisis houses, which people in mental health crisis can move to for a couple of weeks, as an alternative to going to hospital.

Vicious cycle

The only issue with these crisis houses are that the buildings that house them are rarely disabled accessible, which in reality, with the increasing number of disabled people, the likelihood of them experiencing both physical and mental illness has increased, with the two types of disability aggravating each other in a vicious cycle.

Why not UK-wide?

These ideas, although far from perfect, should be learnt from and rolled out on a UK-wide scale, instead of it being the case that getting the right care is dependent on where you live.

Direct payments

Your tightening up of criteria for help from a once great idea, Direct payments, has made life even more challenging for those living with physical and/or mental health conditions. The only thing I am guilty of, is moving out of the area I live in for a couple of months, before returning. As a result of that, I permanently lost my help from the Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) , both care management and Direct Payments, as well as my independence.

A daily struggle

I struggled to pay for my carer from my DLA once I returned, as going without her would probably lead to suicide. Instead of me contributing half the cost of my care and social services meeting the other half, I have had to pay for all of it, as well as the other costs related to my disabilities. The struggle financially as well as mentally, resulted in me ending up in a psychiatric hospital as an inpatient.

Inpatient DLA rules

The really ‘well thought out’ rule of stopping DLA for hospital inpatients once they have been in hospital for 28 days, is another idea that makes no sense to me. Just because someone with a disability/illness is in hospital, doesn’t mean that they can stop having a disability, or stop the additional costs that are involved in having that disability.

I feel especially bad for people who have leased cars, mobility scooters or electric wheelchairs through the Motability scheme. As well as that, what happens to people, like me, informal psychiatric patients who have some remaining freedom, but who rely on a carer to help to keep that freedom a reality?

My carer was the only reason that, till now, I didn’t become institutionalised , and was the difference between me getting off the ward or being stuck here day in, day out. Now I have lost both Direct Payments and my carer as I cannot afford to keep my carer for the moment and I’ve ended up losing her to someone who can afford her.

Problems piling up

I am absolutely heartbroken. In hospital I have been threatened and scared, despite the efforts of some of the few kind, but underpaid and overstretched nurses, I feel afraid and alone, that I am an easy target, and that this could cost me my life.

You may wonder why that is? Well add financial pressure, to loss of mobility and independence, on top of physical disability, mental illness and isolation. With all of that piled on me, whilst being expected to survive on my own, is it any wonder that I struggle?

Friendship

My only friends are either completely lost as to understanding what I’m going through, or they themselves are in the mental health system and struggle to deal with my issues on top of their own. My carer was the only one who didn’t find me too much for her and now I’ve lost her. I’m so broke that I can’t even afford to visit my family, including my newborn niece.

Walk in my shoes

Just for a minute, take a walk in my shoes. Pain, fatigue, a constant desire to harm yourself, isolation, loss and an unstable mood. I feel powerless over my own life and what happens to me, which is a scary place to be. You have power over the lives of others as well as your own life. You have the power to change my life.

Practicalities

So next time you talk about the need to reduce mental health stigma, think of the practical things that you are able to put in place to do just that.

If

My mind returns to a few months ago, when I had a life, ambition, was closer to my loved ones, had a suitable place to live and was far less isolated. If I hadn’t been wrongly advised by DWP and majorly let down by your government, I might actually be in a better position to cope right now, instead of in a room on a psychiatric ward.

Whether or not I make it, as I have lost faith that anyone can, or will, be able to help me, I want you to really think about what you are doing. I want you to consider the destruction you are causing and the lives that are being lost as a result of your cost-saving measures. I’m sure even after you do that, you will return to your cosy life and your cosy family and forget all about us but I want you to spare at least one minute of your time, thinking about what you have done to us.

Mental health recovery idea: Journalling for self-expression day 1

One recovery strategy that has aided me in the past to improve my mental health is Journalling for self-expression. My task, for at least the next 32 days is to follow the guidance of montrealtherapy.com , Journalling for self-expression tasks .

Each day I will attempt to complete, and post, my target for the day. Others are welcome to join me in this . If you do , post your links or write your thoughts in the comments section below.

This task stemmed from courses I attended at South-west London ‘s recovery college. These were aimed at Journalling for self-expression and telling your story, both of which helped me to open up better, which probably led to me writing this blog.

24

The first task is to write down what happened that day and how you felt about it (my entry is actually about Wednesday, although I will try to stay more up-to-date in future). I wrote as much as I could remember about a 24 hour timeframe .

Wednesday 

I think I woke up pretty early on Wednesday . After a cup of tea, I did some preparation for a blog post but mainly ended up chatting to other people on the ward. The downside of being a blogger in a psychiatric hospital, is that it’s so easy to get involved in other people’s problems/dramas, to procrastinate and never get anything done. To fight against that, and because my body seems to be most active at that time, I’ve been waking up early and trying to get my writing done in the fairly quiet hours on the ward.

9am came around before I knew it and my advocate had arrived. The wheels are in motion for me to have a meeting on the ward of all the professionals trying / trying not to be , involved in my care. This will include the hospital team, my physical disabilities  social worker, the CMHT (Community Mental Health Team) and the crisis team.

After that I managed, in a long, tedious, drawn-out, painful process, to get ready for the rest of the day ahead.

What a mess

After this, all I could think about was my partner and helping him out of the financial mess he’s got into in prison, despite the fact that I knew I’d be broke , with big bills due out and my DLA being stopped and overpaid due to the  28 day hospital admission rule not being explained very well by the ward on arrival.. Part of me was also worried about being moved to another ward for a period of time. I know that my mood is currently unstable and I didn’t want it destabilised further by constantly moving between wards.

The great escape 

It crossed my mind to do a runner from hospital and go to stay with my mum in London (as you can see, I don’t always think things through with complete clarity).  My mum refused to let me stay with her which distressed  me further so I got even more distressed. I told the nurse I then went to speak to, that if they wanted to move me wards , they would have to do it forcibly. The nurse was taken aback as I’m usually easygoing, and tried to reassure me, but I was having none of it.

I felt backed into a corner with the quicksand of a mixed episode /rapid cycling deepening and deepening. I was especially concerned about seeing a woman I’d previously been friends with.

After that I called my carer to ask if she could come in early for her last proper day, as I’ve had to let her go, at least temporarily . I was so on edge, I just felt like I was going stir-crazy in the hospital and it made me realise how bad I was going to feel, and how isolated I was going to be in future, without her.

A fixable mistake?

Just before my carer arrived, I had a phone call from my tenancy support worker about my rent arrears. It looks like there has been a mistake with the demand and it is being looked into. I still feel fretful about it but the tenancy support worker has insisted that she has not given up and will be looking into it.

My carer then arrived and we went to sort out the financial stuff that needed doing. This included a problem that had been causing me a great deal of worry.

I went for brunch after a bit of window shopping which ended up delaying me further so I had to rush the meal to get to my friends’ house as they had written me a supporting statement for my PIP assessment form.

What they really think

When I read the statements the ward manger, my carer and friends had written, it made me recognise a few things. Firstly, how much of a trigger my family are to me, secondly, how little independence I have, thirdly, how worried others are about me and lastly, how much I rely on help from other people. This caused me even more anxiety about losing my carer.

We went back to the flat as I was expecting the OT (Occupational Therapist) to visit, furniture to be delivered and to fill in the PIP assessment form with my carer. Nothing got done and I ended up taking diazepam that I had left over from an old prescription, something that, as a hospital inpatient, I am not allowed to do.

Dangerous spending

I needed to get out and followed my usual pattern of being mixed (depressed and on edge) and overspending money that I really don’t have. I went to Hobbycraft, which is always dangerous for me. In the end I bought some scrapbooking stuff, another book to attempt to organise my chaotic life in, in a pretty way.

I then spent more in M & S getting food treats for me and one of the other girls on the ward.

After that was my last drive back with my carer which made me feel really lost and hopeless.

An old friend

I got back and one of my friends had sent me her number via Facebook and we talked. It turned out that she was depressed and what I said about needing to seek help seemed to have little impact. I pleaded with her to contact the hospital and she said that she would. Not long afterwards I received a text message saying that she had taken a serious overdose. I met her recently in hospital and I don’t have her home address , so, out of my mind with worry, I had to inform the ward staff. They tried to reassure me that they’d called the police and it was ‘in hand’.

Deterioration

After this I deteriorated for most of the evening, I felt really depressed and on edge with the occasional glimmer of ok when friends were able to distract/comfort me, which would then leave me feeling guilty. It didn’t help that I had pain in the opposite arm to the one I have suspected nerve damage in.

What a start to the day

The next day started badly and I ended up experiencing a stabbing pain in my knee while I waited impatiently to see the doctor. The pain didn’t last long but it scared me because of the amount of pain meds I’m already on and how bad the pain was.

When I saw the doctors ( I ended up seeing two) , they said that they didn’t see any evidence of obvious inflammation, this made me feel like they didn’t believe me, although they disagreed. They just told me that the rheumatologist needs to see me. This would be all well and good if I’d been able to visit my flat sooner and received the letter from him in time to get to my appointment, which was due yesterday.

I felt so angry, frustrated and hopeless. This really led to me feeling suicidal. My mood drops so quickly lately that it’s frightening.

A bad combination

It was so hard, with a combination of disturbing memories, stress in the present and fear of the future. There was so much that I longed to do but my belief was so strong that I felt that I couldn’t do it anymore. I try my best to keep on keeping on but it is so hard at the moment. My blogs are kind of safety factors as there is so much that I want to do with them. I just need to believe that I can do it.

My overriding mood for that 24 hours was exhaustion/fatigue whilst being extremely on edge. I’m so scared about how I’m going to cope. I have so many things in my life that need to be sorted out, I just can’t focus on anything in particular and I worry that I will never be able to.

Fearing the future

I’m afraid of isolation, of my pain and mobility levels getting worse, and that despite my efforts, my mental health will continue to become more and more unstable, with mood swings that will lead to me spending more and more time in hospital .

I’m sorry that this has been such a long, overly negative post. I’m not even sure if I will post it.

The phone call

My partner called. He tried to convince me that I need to ask for help more often. He also told me to think about who my friends are, because although people aren’t mind readers and have their own problems, it’s obvious to everyone, especially those who know me, what my difficulties are.

Help?!

Is anyone else struggling to deal with having a physical disability and/or a mental illness? I feel so alone right now, it would help a lot to know if there are others like me and how they cope. Thanks for listening.

Juggling posting with ill health

Diagnosis:

I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder 7 years ago and with BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) in addition, 3 years ago. On top of that, I also have a diagnosis of Ankylosing Spondylitis (AS), a form of arthritis. I have attempted blogging in the past as I love to write but struggled to combine writing on a regular basis with ill health. A few months ago I set up this blog as I decided I didn’t want to give up on my dream of writing for an audience as well as that I wanted to raise awareness of life with mental illness and to increase understanding and tolerance.

So far, so ok. I have blogged as often as I can but not as often as I’d like. As well as the mental illness and the pain and fatigue of the AS I also have a reduced immune system thanks to a couple of the drugs that I’m on for my arthritis. As a result of this I am more likely to pick up infections and, once I have them, struggle to fight them off. This weekend was no different.

I had an infection, I felt rotten all weekend, my sleep pattern was all over the place and so was my blogging. Blogging with physical or mental health issues is always a struggle, with both it’s even more of a challenge.

Physical disability and blogging:

As a result of my AS I spend a great deal of time struggling with pain, fatigue, mobility issues, restricted movement and, as I mentioned, a reduced immune system. My pain levels have a huge effect on my productivity. When it’s at its worst the best thing I can do is crawl into bed and lay flat on my back (AS effects my spine as well as knees and hands). When the pain is more manageable I can do a lot more but there is a tendency then to over-do it which can effect my levels of pain and fatigue. Pain can make even something as simple as sitting on the sofa to use my laptop a next to impossible task. A lot of the pain I get is at the base of my spine so as you can imagine, when pain flares up, sitting is a challenge.

The best thing I can do is balance activity but in that planning, include a great deal of flexibility. It’s important to make allowances for yourself when you’re living with chronic pain or any chronic illness for that matter (physical or mental). The other thing to do is to schedule in activities for times when you know that you will be feeling at your best (for example, an hour after taking pain meds) and rest periods for times when you will feel less good.

Fatigue:

Fatigue is another challenging part of having AS. AS causes fatigue for two main reasons, levels of pain tire out the body and disease activity can exhaust it too. Fatigue is so frustrating. I’ve experienced it as a result of physical and mental illness and personally I think that having fatigue due to a physical illness is more frustrating (although it’s a close run thing), this is because you have all the mental energy and focus to do things but your body can’t keep up with it.

Ways of managing fatigue are similar to those of managing pain but the most important piece of advice I can give is to never feel ashamed of needing to nap. In fact scheduling in naps in between periods of activity, is probably a good idea. When I’m struggling with fatigue I feel sheer exhaustion and my concentration can be affected as a result, including blogging. The important thing to remember is to not beat yourself up because of the symptoms of an illness (any illness) that you didn’t choose to have.

Mobility issues:

Mobility issues may not seem to be something that could have an effect on blogging, especially for someone who owns a laptop, but things aren’t always that straightforward. As a blogger, there are things that I would like to do that involve leaving the house, for example interviewing people, for my fashion blog getting out and about taking photos of stylish people in public, for my beauty blog attending events such as a new make-up launch as well as attending blogger meet-ups and conferences. I often feel like I’m missing out because my mobility is limited meaning that I’m on crutches, can’t travel far without assistance and get tired easily.

Some solutions to the problems I have as a result of my mobility problems are pretty obvious, others less so. I can interview people by phone or email and I can get involved with online blogger chats. The thing is though, sometimes you can’t beat meeting people face-to-face and I crave that often. I have access to a PA and taxis for meet-ups closer-to-home but as someone who doesn’t live in a big city these are few and far between. It would be so nice to meet people face-to-face and bounce ideas off each other. On the positive side though, I am very grateful to my online community for providing me with support, encouragement and a feeling of belonging when I would otherwise have felt very much alone. I haven’t been disabled all of my life so I can still remember what it was like to have an active social life (not that you can’t have an active social life with a disability-I just happen to find it much more of a challenge). The internet is a real gift for people who struggle to get out as a result of ill health.

Restricted movement:

Having restricted movement links back to the previous two issues fatigue and mobility problems. I can’t get around easily because of my disability and also have to be careful not to sit in the same position for too long either or the pain will kick in. If I use my hands for too long (writing or typing especially) they can start to hurt or feel swollen. The best thing I can do is to take regular breaks and try not to beat myself up when I have to stop because of pain.

Low immune system:

My low immune system is a real nuisance. The average person with a cold or virus can manage to soldier on, however much of a struggle it may be but when you have a low immune system it really takes everything out of you to fight something like that off. The best thing I can do when I’m like that is to do the little that I can cope with and get the much needed rest that I need.

Mental illness and blogging:

As a result of mental illness I struggle with fatigue, anxiety, paranoia, depression, mania as well as suicidal thoughts or behaviour.

It’s even harder to blog with mental fatigue as it feels like you have complete brain fog. Any mental effort results in such extreme tiredness that the smallest tasks can take all day. All you can do during times like that is have patience with yourself and try not to beat yourself up (however easy it can be to do). Again balancing activity with rest and picking your best times of day to do those things that are the most mentally draining. The other thing is to stop comparing your ill self to you when you are healthy or manic. I’ve done this so many times and it simply achieves nothing. It doesn’t help you to work any faster and the negative mental energy you spend on telling yourself how rubbish you are could be better spent focusing on the task at hand or having some much needed relaxation time.

Anxiety is a hard one to deal with too. Anxiety can place similar barriers around you to that of someone with physical mobility issues. You often isolate yourself, struggle to go to new places or meet new people. As well as that it can affect your energy levels (panic attacks are incredibly draining) and a fear of criticism could mean that your writing never gets to see the light of day. As far as anxiety is concerned, small steady steps are what work best. There is even a type of therapy that suggests this: gradual exposure therapy when you confront your fears gradually by starting with the challenge that scares you least and gradually upping the fear factor. The other thing I recommend is trying to be as honest as you possibly can with people (easier said than done I know). Not everyone will understand but it beats people simply thinking that you don’t want to spend time with them. Taking regular time out of your day to do things that relax or comfort you also helps.

Paranoia can work in some ways similar to anxiety in that it is all about fear. The problem is that while I suggested for anxiety being honest with people about your problem, the very people that you need to be honest with are often unreachable either because your paranoia is about them so you don’t trust them or you’ve confided in them but they either react badly or say the wrong thing or just don’t know how to help or what to say. The best things you can do in this situation is to firstly, find someone who you trust and who reacts well and confide in them, seek help from your mental health team if you can and educate family and friends about what helps and what doesn’t as well as tell-tale signs to look out for, when you’re well and feeling clear-headed.

Depression can lead to fatigue, anxiety, extreme negative thinking and in worst cases, suicidal thinking and behaviour (which I’ll talk about later). The best things I would recommend if you have depression is to seek help from a qualified medical professional as you may need counselling, medication, or in some cases support from the mental health team and/or hospitalisation. Try to find a loved one or friend that you can confide in and be as honest with them as you possibly can although that can be scary at times. Doing something nice for yourself each day is a big step forward, something as simple as a pampering bath can have a positive impact. Finally, don’t be afraid to reach out for professional help. The Samaritans are just one of many organisations who provide advice and guidance to people who need someone to talk to who can keep their issues confidential. http://www.samaritans.org/how-we-can-help-you/contact-us .

Mania can be just as terrifying as depression in some cases. That feeling of being out of control, engaging in risky behaviours, impulsivity, not being completely yourself. The best thing that you can do is seek help. Confide in a friend or family member and/or a health professional. When you’re well plan for periods of mania by setting out what you can do to help yourself and who you can contact. You might have lots of creative energy but find it difficult to focus on one task at a time. Try to spend time on calming activities like listening to a relaxing CD and if you don’t feel safe-tell someone!

Suicidal thoughts or behaviour:

Suicidal thoughts or behaviour is probably the hardest thing of all on this list. If you feel like this then please don’t put any expectations on yourself as far as blogging, only do it if it helps you to feel better. If you feel like this then please seek help or confide in someone. I’m really sorry that that’s the best I can come up with despite having felt like this many times. The only other thing that can help short-term is any kind of positive distraction. A favourite CD, TV programme or book, spending time with someone you love. But you will still need to seek help as you only have so much energy to distract yourself with in the day. Telling someone, although difficult is a positive step towards keeping yourself safe.

There are many similarities and differences between physical and mental health problems and their impact on blogging. People are generally more understanding and supportive of physical illness as it is something that they can see obviously and find easier to relate to. There is still so much stigma surrounding mental illness but also ignorance that younger people can have physical disabilities.

Physical and mental illness can also interlink and impact upon each other. Have you ever felt depressed because you had the flu? Anxious because of the pressure of a disability? In the same way have you ever felt that your mobility was restricted because of a mental illness?

Things to remember:

When blogging with a physical or mental health condition, or both, the important things to remember are regular rest, flexibility and be kind to yourself whilst not forgetting to seek help as soon as possible. Do you blog with a physical or mental health condition? How do you find it and what are your tips for keeping going? Please feel free to comment on this post, add me on Twitter @spursbythebeach or email brokenglassshimmers@hotmail.co.uk . If you like what you’ve read today, for more mental health posts on a regular basis (usually shorter than this) follow me. Thanks 🙂

One is the loneliest number

Having a mental illness can be such a lonely and isolating experience. This can be due to self-inflicted loneliness such as isolating yourself from others/pushing people away or feeling that no-one understands what you’re going through, especially those who do not have a mental illness themselves (however hard they may try to understand). 

Since the start of the year I’ve been isolating myself more and more, avoiding people, hiding away, cancelling meet-ups. I’ve also felt very alone in my struggle with mental illness. Even though I’m not the only person with a mental illness, it often feels like it. 

I’m not sure what’s causing this behaviour, whether it’s depression, anxiety or both. It concerns me a great deal though. 

I’m not a complete recluse. Thankfully I have a lovely PA, a kind social worker and a new tenancy support worker who help to get me out of the house. I also have an online messaging service on my phone called Whatsapp which helps me to keep in touch with friends and family when face-to-face meet-ups are difficult due to distance, health problems or lack of time. This helps me to still feel connected. As well as this I have this blog, my other blogs and social media such as Twitter and Instagram, all of which help me to feel less alone. 

It doesn’t change the fact that I am isolated though. I am increasingly paranoid and increasingly frustrated and depressed. 

I am due to see my psychiatrist on Tuesday to discuss whether or not my bloods are ok enough for me to start lithium. I’m absolutely desperate to return to some form of stability so that I can make decisions that need to be made, do things that I keep putting off and begin to work out who I really am and what I want. 

I’m sick of struggling to get out of bed in the morning and I’m tired of being held back creatively when there are posts I want to create and books that I want to write as well as photos that I want to take. I mention photos because I was supposed to attend a photography session at a free arts centre not far from me. My PA was working that day and could have taken me but instead I freaked out about the fact that there would be people I didn’t know there and decided at the last minute not to go. Now the soonest I can go with someone will probably be the week after next. I just hope that I’m feeling strong enough to face it by then. 

On the plus side I have started going to Slimming World meetings. I’m determined to lose 5 stone as soon as is healthily possible and I have started to make changes to my diet and exercise. 

Exercise is one of the few things keeping me going at the moment. It seems to lift my mood a bit as well as giving me a sense of achievement. I just wish that I could do more. Again though, exercise is an isolated experience for me as I don’t go to classes or groups at the moment although I am thinking about starting Aquafit classes once I can get over my lack of confidence about other people seeing me in a swimming costume. 

I’m trying my best to make sure that I leave the house every chance that I get, as long as I feel secure enough to. This is usually when I’m with my PA, social worker or tenancy support worker and usually involves shopping. I desperately need other activities in my life. 

When I was reading on  a regular basis I joined two book groups but now I’m struggling to even get through my magazines. The photography group sounds interesting as does some form of group exercise/physiotherapy. At the moment though just surviving day by day is the best that I can hope for. 

Does anyone else struggle with loneliness or isolation? How do you cope with it? Please feel free to get in touch either on here, Twitter @spursbythebeach, Instagram @spursbythebeach or email brokenglassshimmers@hotmail.co.uk. I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions.

Two-part story: Self harm part 1

I started cutting as a form of self-harming when I was aged only 14. At first it was a cry for help but after a while it became quite addictive, when someone hurt me mentally, I would make it physical. It was also due to the self-hatred I felt towards myself after years of being told all of the horrible things that I was, I began to believe it. I was getting bullied at school as well as at home by my father. Self-harming became a way to get out all the hurt inside and to replace the mental pain with a physical one, even just for a brief time.

At first I showed my mother what I’d done, like I said, it was a cry for help. She told me not to be ‘so stupid’ and for two years after that I kept it a secret by wearing long-sleeved clothes and not confiding in anyone.

That changed when I made a good friend. After I told her she begged me to stop saying ‘One day it’s gonna be bad, and well you might not be here’. That was the beginning of the end. The real shock to the system began when I saw my father get sectioned for self-harming after he cut his throat in front of me. I learnt from his mistakes and, for a while, my fear of getting sectioned was so strong, that I stopped cutting altogether.

For years I found some sort of stability in my relationships. When my marriage ended suddenly, aged 25, I was in shock. Then the old feelings of self-hatred and wanting to get out the pain I’d internalised, came flooding back and I started cutting again. It took nearly dying from an overdose to shock me into stopping and a promise that I made to my fiance, to encourage me to stay stopped.

Attending self-help groups with other people who had mental illness, I encountered people who self-harmed a lot worse than I did and were permanently, badly scarred. I just found it incredibly sad that these beautiful people would be reminded of their pain forever but I suppose that those scars can become symbols of what people have overcome, their bravery at facing inner-torment. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling self harm brave but the people who do it have usually been brave for far too long.

To help me to deal with the urges I find that distraction works best for me or if I can no longer hide from the pain inside I face it head-on and write about it. During dark times, and all the time if you can manage it, I really encourage people to keep a journal/diary. If the urges are still there and I can’t cope alone, I call someone. Whether it’s a friend, family or more often the Samaritans or my CMHT. Don’t suffer in silence, if you can’t cope with your pain, reach out to others.

If someone you know is cutting, you can help by not judging or criticising, self-harmers usually do enough of that already. Really listen and encourage the person to talk about their reasons for doing it and, if they are ready, help them to find alternatives. If they are not ready to stop discuss with them how to stay as safe as possible when they are cutting by keeping cutting implements and cuts clean and avoiding cutting too deep or cutting in places that are likely to cause real harm or danger to them.

I hope to write a book about my life with mental illness as well as an autobiography to detail the issues I’ve faced and how I’ve dealt with them. I would also like to become a freelance journalist. Most importantly though I would love to get involved in some kind of awareness raising or support programme for those with mental illness (those who self-harm, like me, may have an undiagnosed mental illness). I also hope that my books and this blog will go some way towards achieving that awareness and support.

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