Mental Heath Week 2018 Round-Up

MHAW18 – The Round Up

Well, what a week it has been! After writing all week about different aspects of mental health I’m so pleased with the response. I’ve been amazed by the responses, the number of people reading, it’s been amazing! That said, I know that not everyone checks in every day with my blog (it’s ok, I’ll forgive you) so here’s a round-up of this weeks posts!

Welcome to MHAW18 

A big welcome to the week and a heads up about what I’m planning to do with it.

Does Therapy Work?

One of the big questions in the community is about therapy and whether it works, so I decided to talk about it and why it’s good to talk!

10 Ways To Support Someone With A Mental Illness

It can be really hard to support someone who is mentally ill. So I’ve put together some tips on how to support someone with a mental illness and what might work for you and them.

My Top 10 Mental Health Reads 

Of course, I was going to talk about books! I’ve picked 10 reads I thought did it right when it comes to mental illness.

I Have, I Am – Talking About Mental Illness 

I’m really interested in the terminology we use to discuss our mental health. This post was to discuss that and how we relate ourselves and our illnesses.

How Am I Doing Right Now? 

My own personal post about my mental health right now and how I’m doing. I try and write one of these every year just being honest about how I’ve been doing, what place I’m in right now.

I’ve enjoyed writing and getting to know more of you this week. We have to remember that this week is excellent but mental health awareness needs to carry on. It needs to be spoken about without shame or stigma.

Thanks so much for reading!

My Top 10 Mental Health Reads

MHAW18 – My Top 10 Mental Health Reads

 

Seeing as it’s Thursday I decided that instead of my usual review, I would share with you my current top 10 books about or featuring mental health. I was really hard to decide on the final 10 but I think I have a pretty good selection.

The Bell Jar – Sylvia Plath
This is one of my favourites books of all time. I read this when I was a student and it just connected on a level I haven’t before with any other book. The plot focuses on Esther a young woman in her early 20s and her descent into mental ill health.

Am I Normal Yet – Holly Bourne
I love Holly Bourne’s YA work and Am I Normal Yet was a great start to her spinster trilogy. Looking at OCD, how to open up to the people around you and the process of recovery. Full review right here.

Reasons to Stay Alive – Matt Haig
Matt Haig was on the verge of committing suicide, now he’s a best selling author. To get from one to the other he needed reasons to stay alive. This is a beautiful and brilliant book which changes lives. I wrote all about it here.

My Lovely Wife – Mark Luckach
There are very few books I’ve read from the perspective of a partner who has to watch their loved ones go through mental illness. A truly lovely and honest book. You can read my review here.

How Not To Be A Boy – Robert Webb
I’m so in love with this autobiography. This isn’t just about Webb’s life, it looks at death, gender stereotypes, sexuality and toxic masculinity. I raved about it here.

Mad Girl – Bryony Gordon
I listened to this as an audiobook and fell in love. Not only does Bryony talk about serious topics such as depression, alopecia and OCD but she also makes you laugh. I’m a huge believer in laughter being a great healer. You can read my full thoughts here.
Nina is Not Ok – Shappi Khorsandi
This is the first YA novel I’ve read looking at alcoholism in a young person. I went through so many emotions reading it. A tough but important read.

Ariel – Sylvia Plath
I know, I know Plath again BUT her poetry is incredible. This is a beautiful collection and Plath’s last before her suicide. The imagery, the emotion. I can’t get enough.
It’s All in Your Head – Rae Earl
Confession, I’d never read anything by Rae Earl before and this was a great place to start. This is part manual, part memoir and wholly excellent. I loved this and it would benefit anyone and I highly recommend it.

When We Collided – Emery Lord
This is a wonderful YA novel which isn’t obvious it is about mental illness at the beginning. This is mostly about friendship, love and healing. Two teenagers, a summer and a beautiful novel. Full review here.

 

What would you add? Let me know in the comments below!

10 Ways to Support Someone with a Mental Illness

MHAW18: 10 Ways to Support Someone with a Mental Illness

When a loved one is struggling with a mental illness it can be hard to know what to do and how to help. For me, when I’m on a low I don’t even know what I want sometimes! There are some things, however, that you can do to help. I wanted to share them with you.

Listen

Sometimes all a person needs is someone to listen. They don’t need actions or solutions just someone to listen to how they feel and why they might be feeling it. It’s really that simple. Having someone listen to you can make such a change to a person’s day.

Don’t assume you know or understand 

Mental illness may have a set of symptoms but it is a truly personal experience. From experience, someone else thinking they know what you’re going through and trying to guess, rather than listen, is frustrating. It is so, so important to see this as a personal struggle not just a set of symptoms. Depression isn’t just sadness, Anxiety isn’t feeling nervous these are real issues.

Support them with small steps

Sometimes something that might seem small can be a big deal. In my worst times, I struggled to leave the house to go to the shop down the road. I physically couldn’t leave and when I did I had anxiety attacks. So my amazing boyfriend helped with the smaller steps. First, take a shower, then put on some clothes, then put on my shoes etc. It was long and frustrating but we did it and later that afternoon popped to the shop. I do the same thing with close friends with things such as blood tests. Small steps matter!

Let them know you’re there without forcing them to open up 

People will open up when they’re ready. Trying to force it from them will probably have the opposite effect. Just letting someone know that if they want to talk or hang out, you’re there is a big help.

Don’t try to ‘fix’ them 

Don’t listen to Coldplay, people with a mental illness aren’t broken and recovery has to be something the person wants for themselves.

Treat them as the person you know they are 

The person you know is in there, they might just be hiding. You can still make jokes, ask them to go places. They could say no 99 times but that 100th time they might feel well enough to go. It let’s them know that you still love and care for them.

Ask what they need 

It could be someone to just sit with in the quiet, someone to eat with or just being that voice at the end of the phone. Asking them what they actually need rather than guessing makes things a lot easier in the long run.

Swot Up! 

There’s so much information out there to help you understand what your loved one is going through. Read personal accounts, watch documentaries, listen to music. You might not be living it but you can try to understand as much as possible.

Be there 

It really is as simple as that. Just being there for someone.

Be a champion 

Mental illness is something that we need to talk about and even if you’ve never lived it you can be a champion and continue the conversation.

 

What would you add? Let me know in the comments below!

MHAW18: Does Therapy Work?

Let’s talk about Therapy. Does it really work?

Now, I’m not talking about laying down, a leather sofa to a stony-faced psychiatrist, sorry to burst your bubble but I starting talking therapies on and off almost 10 years ago and it’s never happened. Not once. That is a Hollywood myth, or something you don’t get on the NHS, either way not something I can tell you about.

I know that it’s not for everyone but for me, I’m pretty sure it’s got me to where I am today as a person. Working through my thoughts, problem and general mental health with someone who’s qualified and has to tools I didn’t was crucial. It was just a chat every week. I’d speak about what I felt I needed to and when appropriate try to break things down. It cleared up so much in my own head.

I don’t understand the stigma around talking to someone to try and sort your shit out. Surely that would make us better as people? To talk about things that are going on in our brains.  That said, I completely understand that it’s not for everyone. For some people, they need to work through things in another way and talking isn’t for them, which is fine.

That said, we need to acknowledge that for people who it does help it is vital and that’s where things have fallen down. A year and a half ago I was put on a waitlist because things were going pretty badly in my personal life, I’d had a lot of change and wasn’t doing so well. I’m still on that waiting list even though I feel like I don’t need it anymore. That is not only mind-boggling but also disgusting. I had a support system and wasn’t in crisis but sometimes I get frustrated, what if that wasn’t the case? But, that’s another blog post.

What do you think about therapy? Is it something that’s helped you or not your cup of tea? Let me know in the comments below!

Welcome to Mental Health Awareness Week 2018!

So, a few days ago I realised that it’s Mental Health Awareness Week and had to get a plan together, quick. You see, mental well being is so important to me because I haven’t always been in the place that I am now (here’s a whole post about my story from last year).

Ok, but why?

I think we need to talk because being mentally ill can be really lonely and make you feel like you’re the only person in the world who has these feelings. I promise you that you’re not. This is your brain goblin, stay with me here, that likes to take over your brain and make everything look and feel terrible. It is lying to you, it loves to lie to you.

So, what’s going to be happening over here 

I’m going to write a post about mental health every single day of the week. Yep, that’s a thing now. I want to talk about things to make others more comfortable and open. I’m going to be talking about whether I think therapy works, how to support someone with a mental illness and how we talk about it and ourselves. It’s going to be a full ride of information, emotions and more. Honestly, I could write about it forever but this is just a tiny portion of the internet.

I just want to get people talking and if they’re comfortable, sharing. It’s such a personal thing that gets turned into a political agenda. I’ve been at the point where I thought there was no coming back, I’ve been on a huge high where I thought I was cured forever and it was never coming back (lol, no). This is just what I think, what I’ve felt and hopefully, this week can help someone else as well.

So get into the comments, start talking and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week brings!

What’s Up With Me?

I’ve been a little bit quieter recently on the blog, on my Twitter and in my general life. Now, I don’t feel that I have to explain everything to everyone but it’s been bothering me slightly. I haven’t written about mental health in a while now, partly because I didn’t know what to say, partly because I’ve been mixing with new people and I didn’t want the first thing for them to know about me was my history rather than the person I am now.

So what is up with me? It’s been a really weird month. My Great Nan died at the beginning of the month, so there was also a funeral. I’ve had some hospital appointments and a week off. So it’s been a mixed bag but even with that, something felt off. Something within me felt strange and I just blamed it on things in my life and feeling tired. Standard stuff.

That was until last night, I’d just had enough of feeling crappy and exhausted when there wasn’t anything that I could pinpoint anymore that was making me feel this way. I’ve been going through areas of my life and couldn’t understand what was going on and I was worried. Then something clicked. Something had changed.

About 2 months ago I changed some of my medication and I was told it would be a straight swap, one for the other but it would help with my back pain as well as serving as an antidepressant that I was already on. There was a catch though…nobody told me the dosage would change to be a lot lower and therefore offset the chemical imbalance again. Not fun.

And that’s the thing, I have a chemical imbalance, that’s all this is. It’s just like a Diabetic I can’t help my illness any more than they can. So I spoke to my doctor, we’re trying out some other options and it was a huge weight off of my shoulders to understand. Living with Depression is all about ups and downs.

I’ve been doing this long enough to know when something is up and trying to work around it. I haven’t been crying every day or the typical Hollywood version of depressed but everything just felt a lot heavier and like it was more effort, that’s when I knew something wasn’t right.

So, that’s what’s been up! I’m pretty proud of myself for clocking it and then doing something about it.

 

Have any of you ever experienced this? Let me know in the comments below!

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.