Sunday Seven: Catching up on Mental Health Week 2017

Now we’ve come to the end of Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 and the end of my week of mental health blogging. I wanted to remind you what I’ve been up to this week, just in case you’ve missed it.

Sunday – Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Week 

Monday – My Mental Health story so far

Tuesday – 10 thing you need to know before taking medication for mental illness

Wednesday – Q & A working in Mental Health 

Thursday – So, what’s it like living with a mental illness? Bloggers answer – part one.

Friday –  So, what’s it like living with a mental illness? Bloggers answer – part two.

Saturday – I took some needed time for myself because I practice what I preach.

Let me know in the comments below what you’ve enjoyed and make sure to look out for much more mental health posts coming.

 

So, what’s it like living with a mental illness? – bloggers answer. Part Two.

I asked Bloggers to tell me what it was like to live with a mental health condition. Some of these stories are hard to read and I cannot thank the bloggers enough for sharing their stories. Please remember if you need help to contact your GP or the Samaritans on 116 123. You are not alone. 

Lauren from www.milliesguide.com  – Anxiety and Depression

What is it like to live with a mental health difficulty? I’ve been finding this a really hard question to answer because every day is different. I can be hit by anxiety where I constantly feel nervous but I can’t work out what I’m worried about. Depression can loom like a cloud of darkness. It is feeling numb and nothing makes sense. It’s feeling nothing or everything at once. It’s crying when someone says hello. It’s crying for absolutely no reason and not being able to stop. There is a little voice in the back of my mind that constantly tells me I’m not good enough and that I’ll never be good enough. It’s not having the energy and courage to get out of bed. It’s not showering, cleaning your teeth or eating properly because I’m not worth it. At its worse depression causes you to

Depression can loom like a cloud of darkness. It is feeling numb and nothing makes sense. It’s feeling nothing or everything at once. It’s crying when someone says hello. It’s crying for absolutely no reason and not being able to stop. There is a little voice in the back of my mind that constantly tells me I’m not good enough and that I’ll never be good enough. It’s not having the energy and courage to get out of bed. It’s not showering, cleaning your teeth or eating properly because I’m not worth it. At its worse depression causes you to self-harm and self-destruct. It’s having thoughts that you would be better off dead. That your loved ones would be better off without you in their lives. My biggest piece of advice to you is to tell someone.

Talk about how you’re feeling with friends, family or your doctor. Lots and lots of people have depression or some other mental health problems. Just remember you are not alone and this too shall pass. It’s something that I have to remind myself of often.

Jen from @aweebitblue – Under diagnosis review.

I first started to struggle in my mid-teens, when I started to feel really low, and began to self-harm. I eventually sought help at 17, and was given antidepressants. I wasn’t so keen on taking them – I worried that they’d make me feel even more numb than I already felt – so I asked if there were any talking therapies available. My GP referred me to CAMHS, where I saw a psychologist… twice. I felt like I was being patronised.

At 18, I moved away to university, where I spiralled into a deep dark place, which culminated in me using drinking and self-harm to get me through the long nights. I registered with the campus GP, and was given more antidepressants, which I took for a couple of days, and then stopped. I also saw a university counsellor, who pretty swiftly said she couldn’t cope with ‘my levels of difficulty’. I had a course of CBT around this time, which I have to say was not particularly helpful either. I was convinced that I was beyond help, and spiralled even further.

Gradually though, over a course of years, with the help of my girlfriend of the time, things started to get a little better.And it seemed like it was for the first few years. But then things started to go downhill.  I tried a whole host of medications, but I seem to be very sensitive to side effects, so many just didn’t ‘fit’. And things just got worse. I was increasingly suicidal, and ended up being taken into hospital to keep me safe.

A Borderline Personality Disorder diagnosis has been following me around for a while. Despite only meeting two of the criteria for a diagnosis (you have to meet five, and most people I know would meet at least one), and not meeting the criteria for BPD treatment (Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT)), I have had professionals tell me I have BPD repeatedly for the past couple of years.

But it…just didn’t fit. So, at my last appointment with my (new) consultant, I ‘put on my big girl pants’, and asked him about it. He said that it was on my records, but that he had it as ‘under review’. We had a chat about it, and in the end he said that he was very clear that I had a ‘complex mood disorder’. Mood disorder because of the depression, and complex because of the trauma. So not a personality disorder, after all. I finally feel understood, and like we can make some progress.

Please remember if you need help to contact your GP or the Samaritans on 116 123. You are not alone. 

So, what’s it like living with a mental illness? – bloggers answer. Part One.

I asked Bloggers to tell me what it was like to live with a mental health condition. Some of these stories are hard to read and I cannot thank the bloggers enough for sharing their stories. Please remember if you need help to contact your GP or the Samaritans on 116 123. You are not alone. 

Emma, @LiterateElf  – Depression

One of the things that still amazes me is how many people think mental health is ‘cute’ or ‘quirky’, without having any greater understanding of how it affects a person. I’ve suffered with issues since my preteen years, and yet I never fully understood what was going on until I hit my early 20s. That’s a long time to be clueless about yourself. Not that I’d say knowing has made any difference, in all seriousness; I became medicated, but that never stopped the depressive episodes. Never prevented me from being escorted by the police on my way to hospital.

I probably paint a bleak picture, but that isn’t my intention, all I want to do is paint an honest one, one that illustrates how individual an experience mental health can be. As I grow older I learn to accept this part of me, while never allowing it to define who I am; I’m more than my mental health. There’s still dark periods in my life, moments where getting out of bed is too great a burden, but they pass eventually, leading to brighter days. It’s hard to offer advice or help to other sufferers, so all I’ll say is that you should try and remember that, while this journey is hard, it’s not always going to be so shitty. You can make it through.

Fears Come to Life (a short story of depression)

 Do you ever feel like you’re teetering on the edge, with the abyss staring back at you, your entire being barely holding on as the engulfing waves wash over you once more. That’s my personal prison that I experience everyday, the minefield of emotions rigged to go off at the slightest unbalance. Try as I might to stem the never-ending tide, I’m always consumed by that which I fear.

Droplets of salt water cascade down my face, splitting apart and splashing my cheeks as they descent to my rounded chin. This is the face that greets me from inside the mirror, her expression blank and cold, sorrow bubbling out of every pore. She should be unfamiliar, but I know her all too well.

I’d seen glimpses of her growing up, a whisper of a form, shrouded in black, but it was never more than fleeting visits. As soon as I’d see her, she was gone, her suffocating aura stolen away along with her. The simplicity of those days weigh down on me now, their irony raw and bitter, just like the pills I swallow to forget the truth of myself.

Stepping away from the reflection, the one I hate to recall so clearly, I lift my form up and into the bath. The water is so warm, stinging as it lightly scolds, red blemishes pricking at my skin. As it washes over me, my being submerged in a metaphorical baptism, I wonder whether my visits from this grave soul, so troubled and shattered, will ever stop.

Opening my eyes under the water, I sense a stirring inside me; she comes for me tonight.

 Anon – Psychosis

“I had a period of psychosis when I was at university. I’m still not sure whether it was brought on by stress (I was in an abusive relationship, was being stalked and my dad was dying at the time) or a severe lack of nutrition (thanks to aforementioned relationship I was existing on a chocolate bar a day and a bowl of rice once a week.) In any case, I was having auditory and visual hallucinations daily; I’d hear people calling my name, see snakes and bugs crawling over the floor and on my skin and occasionally would see and feel branches reaching out to get me, among other things. I told no one at the time, I didn’t feel like I could because of the stigma my family has towards mental illness because of my dad’s mental health problems. I was working full time while at uni and it began to affect my work because I would ask colleagues and customers why they were calling for me and struggled to tell when the voices were in my head and when they were real. Sometimes I couldn’t sleep because I’d be hearing what sounded like a 1950s radio broadcast at night and once I became so convinced that my hands were out to get me that I tried to break my own wrists on my bedpost. I vaguely remember trying to tell people outside of family, but in hindsight I suspect I was so vague about my symptoms that no one really understood what was going on. I haven’t hallucinated since 2014, when I thought that an earthquake was shaking my bed in Seattle, and now I try and avoid the kinds of stress and eating behaviour triggers that used to be constant. I suffered from chronic migraines at the same time so now I’m trying to avoid migraine triggers in case they’re linked. I don’t talk openly about it, and it does mean that I fear that my perception of reality will never be quite trustworthy, but I am able to manage life quite well now.”

Part 2 continues tomorrow with two more bloggers.

If you’d like to share YOUR story email me at chloefmetzger@gmail.com

 

 

Q & A Working in Mental Health

IMG_3814

For tonight’s Mental Health Awareness Week post, I spoke to my best friend, Abbie, who coincidentally works for a Mental Health charity. There are a lot of people who can help, but what’s it like to be one of those helpers? I asked Abbie what it’s like to work in Mental Health.

1. What do you do?

I am a Peer Support Coordinator, this means I recruit, train and supervise a team of volunteers who use their own experiences of mental ill health to support others.

2. Why did you choose to work in Mental Health?

I studied Psychology at university and then volunteered in mental health. I’ve also experienced mental health problems myself, so wanted to help others similar to me.

3. What’s one piece of advice you have for people with mental health conditions?

Try to find strength in what you’re going through. For a long time I thought my own mental health challenges could only be a negative, now I use them as a support so that I can help others.

4. What’s one thing you’ve learnt in your job?

People shouldn’t be defined by their history. I’ve worked with people with criminal records, who are incredibly inspiring and have such value to others when they are just given a chance.

5. Is your job affected by government cuts?

Yes! I work for a charity and we are definitely feeling the pinch. We’re also finding it more difficult to work together with other mental health organisations and charities when we’re all competing for ever shrinking pots of money.

6. What should people know about working in mental health?

It can be very challenging but it’s very rewarding. I can be very difficult to work alongside people who are struggling, but it’s amazing when you see them doing well. It’s important to set your own boundaries and know when to take time off to look after yourself.

Thanks to Abbie for giving an insight into her job. If YOU work in mental health and would like to be featured, email me on chloefmetzger@gmail.com!

Legal jargon: All views expressed are Abbie’s own, they do not represent the charity she works for.

 

10 things you need to know before taking medication for Mental Illness

There is a lot of debate over medication and mental health. As someone who takes medication, I wanted to put together 10 things I feel you should know before taking medication.

  1. It’s not an easy fix – These aren’t ‘happy pills’ as people like to joke. For me, taking medication was similar to a fog rising, it didn’t instantly make me happy but it gave me the strength to make changes and help myself.
  2. Medication isn’t for everyone – It works for some, but not for others
  3. Your body needs time to adjust– In my experience, and that of most people I’ve spoken to, the first few weeks on new medication can have negative side effects. I had a week of feeling really poorly BUT it was worth it. If you can, see if you can get through that period.
  4. If you don’t feel it’s right, go back to your doctor – That said, if you really are struggling and don’t feel you can carry on or after a while feel your medication isn’t working as it should, go speak to your GP. I had three adjustments in a year on the same medication.
  5. You’re not weaker or less of a person for taking medication– There is so much BS about there about not being your ‘real self’ while on medication. If ‘not being my real self’ includes feeling better, not feeling exhausted and unbearably unhappy, I’ll take that, thanks.
  6. There are so many different types! There are so many different types which are used for different symptoms and reasons.
  7. A lot of people are ill-informed, don’t let them scare you – I’ve found two types of people in this category. The first type, people who’ve had a bad experience on medication. I don’t think they mean any harm but no medication is the same for everyone, just because it didn’t work for them, doesn’t mean it won’t work for you. The other type of people don’t know anything about medication and just have, in my personal opinion, uneducated. Do what’s right for you.
  8. You can still have children if you’re on medication – This was something I was really concerned about because there are quite a few side effects and as a woman you have to be extra careful if you want to have children. I have been reliably informed that medication can be managed and monitored, hooray!
  9. You might need to try different medications to find the right one – This happens with a lot of medication, it’s no different when it’s for your mental health. There are so many different types for different issues. Keep going until you find the right one.
  10.  You’re the only person who matters – Everyone has an opinion, but that doesn’t mean they control your life. If you find medication helps you get through the day then you do you, this is your body and your health, no one else’s.

What would you add to this list? Let me know in the comments below or tweet me @chloemetzger

Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Week on chloemetzger.com

Welcome, welcome, welcome! It’s Mental Health Awareness week which I absolutely love because it’s a chance to educate people, share stories and just generally start the conversation. So, because of this I will be posting every day with the theme of mental health, my experiences, the experiences of others and more.

So here it is, Mental Health Awareness Week 2017!

Enjoy!

Getting Motivated

So, this month has been tough, very tough. I wrote a post last week about what’s been going on, why I’ve been quiet on social media (you can read that here) and I’ve had a lot of time to think. I’ve had my time to feel sad and upset about what happened but right now it’s time to get motivated.

I think it’s important to give yourself time to feel what you need to feel when things happen. That said my family and friends make sure that I don’t wallow, that I get on with my life and move on. It’s a new week and it’s time to get motivated.

I have plans for this week, even though I’m at home. I have a full list of plans, things to do and get on with. I’m going to sort out more work, get the house tidy, do some work outs and write like a mad thing! I am more than something that hs happened to me. Was I upset? Yes. Was I in shock? Yes. I doubted myself but I need to try and let that go.

It’s worth saying that the people around you can really help and I’m so grateful in particular to Ali, Abbie, Ben & Joe as well as my family for constantly being there for any help and tearful phone calls I’ve made, you’re all the best.

So this is my declaration to you all, I am not giving up, I have shit to do and the last few weeks won’t define me.

World, I’m coming to get you.