I’m Doing Great

Growing up I dealt with anxiety and OCD. My stomach constantly felt like it was going to drop out. I had to scream when doing certain schoolwork, constantly flipped light switches. When this didn’t make me feel better I started crawling, refusing to use my legs as punishment. Most of this went away before I graduated high school. Depression showed up in college and it took my wife several years to figure out what was going on. I was blind to it. By the time she forced me to seek treatment I was giving myself carpet burn on my face, completely freezing up in stores, shaking and crying in corners. The only thing I had was the will to live. When I started treatment I quit my public relations job (which I had just completed my master’s degree for) and started writing. Three years later I’m doing great. I see a therapist when needed and take an antidepressant. I still write and work part-time as an after-school teacher. I share poetry, writing updates and mental health updates on the Depressed House Husband blog:

https://t.co/8kkFjGzMTZ

This account was written and sent into us through Twitter by Arsenio Franklin, who can be found at https://twitter.com/ArsenioFranklin. If you have any stories relating to struggles with mental health you’d like to share, please get in touch with us.

Coping with anxiety

If depression is the black dog, then anxiety surely is the coiling snake unravelling in your belly, nipping at your sense of security and poisoning the knowledge that everything will be okay. I live in an anxiety ridden world where we’re always connected and hyper aware of what’s expected from us in relation to society and our peers, it’s hard to escape. You should have this, you should be achieving that….it’s everywhere. You have to dig little caverns in the rocky landscape and hide away from the tree roots that are out to snag you. Teenage. Post partum. Generalised. I’ve experienced all of these anxieties at one point in my life, and it’s safe to say I couldn’t rank one as scarier as the other. They all terrified me; all battered me in to submission; all made me forget who I was for a while as I tried to ride the wave of what worrying had done to me.

The post partum was the most succinct. All of my fears surrounded my baby. My capabilities with her. I knew what the problem was, and the solution came from proving to myself that I was a good mother. Perhaps solution is too finite of a word. Because I am still an anxious little bee, buzzing from worry to worry. Anxiety powers me through day to day life. It makes me a perfectionist, it makes me a person that tries my damn hardest, but it also makes me wary of every outcome that my mind seems less than worthy. There was no one place I found the balm that soothes me. What calms me one day does nothing for me the next. A TV show will engross me and stop me worrying about going in to work in two hours. The next day I can’t stomach it; the laugh track irritates me, the characters are wittering too much. A song, one that is the soundtrack to the tumult of emotions I am running through as I try to process the possible outcomes of the meeting I have, the appointment I don’t want to go to but need to. And so I do this. I imagine everything that is precious to me is broken. I let it go before I can worry anymore about losing it. And then the snake coils itself back up, and puts it’s head down for a rest. And so do I.

Thank you for reading this article by the wonderful writer, Katie Mcmahon. You can find more of her work on her WordPress at authorkatiemcmahon.wordpress.com

Tackling Depression

So, recently, I’ve had to go to my doctor, due to some symptoms I’ve been experiencing, which had been festering for a while and it turned out to be depression.

I’m not, nor do I pretend to be, qualified to help you deal with mental health problems you may be having. However, I am someone who has suffered from anxiety for a long time, and am now on my way to recovering  from depression. Here are eight things you can do yourself that really helped me, aside from taking my medication.

1) Go for a walk everyday : Filling your lungs with fresh air can really help you feel refreshed and energised. It’s not going to take effect by doing it once and giving up. I advise doing this every single day. In the long run, it may help, even if it’s only for five minutes. And I know, when you’re down, it’s the last thing you probably will want to do, but just do it. Make yourself. And where possible, take a scenic, serene, peaceful route.

2) Affirmations: Every morning, afternoon and evening, take a couple of minutes to close your eyes, do some deep breathing, and repeat one of the following mantras five times:

“Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.”

“I am worth loving.”

If you feel those negative thoughts that have been getting you down to creep in while affirming this to yourself, start breathing deeply again, and focus on the sound of your breaths as they come in and go out. Once you start to believe the mantra, that’s a good sign; a sign that says you’re starting to overpower those feelings of worthlessness and sadness.

3) Cut out social media: I know, I know, in this day and age, that may seem the impossible task, but trust me, if you’re feeling down and depressed, staring at a phone or computer screen is the last thing that’s going to uplift you. If you’re using it to message your friends and or family, meet up with them instead and do it on a frequent basis. That will prove much more beneficial to your mental health that snapping, tweeting or flicking through Instagram and losing yourself in it.

4) Listen to music and sing along: This one may sound stupid, but music is great for the soul, and singing along is even better. Trust me, try it on a regular basis.

5) Gratitude list: Again, this may sound incredibly stupid, but, every day, make a gratitude list. Write down three things that you are thankful for. And try come up with different answers every single day. The idea behind this, is that when you’re focusing on the positives in your life, you are momentarily distracted from the negative. Doing this activity every day can enforce a positive mindset.

6) Set daily goals: Even if it is as simple as hanging out a basket of laundry and cleaning the ashes from the fireplace, set yourself two manageable daily tasks to complete. When you have something to focus on, it can distract you from the grasp depression can have on you.

7) Set that alarm clock: When going to bed, set an alarm for yourself that will wake you after 7-8 hours. When you’re feeling down, oversleeping is a common tendency. Don’t give in to it, from experience, I know it only makes it worse. So, get up after an adequate amount of sleep, I get that it’s hard, but you just gotta force yourself. And when you feel the urge to just pull those covers back over yourself, and curl up again, fight it. Say no. Say fuck you to depression, and fight it. I know it’s easier said than done, but it’s what you need to do to overcome it.

8) Talk to someone: Tell someone who’s good at listening about how you feel. Don’t hold back. Let all that negativity spill out. And do it routinely. Don’t let those feelings continue to build up until you can’t cope anymore and just explode; that’s really not going to get you anywhere. From experience too, I find that sometimes it’s a lot easier to discuss these thoughts with someone you don’t have an emotional tie with.

And there you have it. The steps that helped me back to a better, happier place. I’m still struggling with it somewhat, but it is getting better. So, please, try those steps out to see if they make a difference. And below are a couple of videos you can check out, which really helped me gain some perspective on the problems I was experiencing.

This post is by Jacinta Horgan, the co-founder of this page. She can be found on Twitter @HorganJacinta, Instagram @jmh_writer, and Facebook @JMHWrites. If you have any stories you’d like to share regarding struggles with mental health, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us.

Living with Psychosis and Bi Polar

I first became ill at age 16, I attempted to take my own life and became psychotic. At the time, I didn’t have any idea what mental illness was and why it started. My family and friends were in shock as they didn’t even realise I was becoming ill. My mum took me to A&E where I waited for over 24 hours to see somebody. I ended up staying on various units in the general hospital which only triggered my psychosis even more. I had to wait for an inpatient bed, which aren’t easy to find. But eventually, I found one in Bury hospital. At the time I was delusional and experienced hallucinations of all sorts. I believed I was on a mission to save my family and friends, I even saw them all in the saw-like game, strung by their necks like chickens on a stage. I believed I had lost the game because I wasn’t allowed out of the hospital building. I even began to believe my girlfriend was a part of this, and was even having an affair with my own mum. I could hear the BBC news broadcasting outside of the hospital and I could see my family and friends being tortured.

At Bury hospital I stayed for approximately three months. Here I was still in a psychotic episode until near the end of my stay. They worked on getting me on the right medication to stop the episode and I had therapy and extra circular activities. I had just started college at the time, so I had to take a year out to manage my mental health. After I was put on the right medication, the nightmare finally came to an end. I received aftercare treatment, but the professionals said they thought that this would be a one-off and wouldn’t happen again.

However, in September 2018 I had another psychotic episode. I was just about to start my second year of university and I could feel the symptoms coming over me again. I went to my doctor and he said it was ‘simply depression’ and that they would help me at university but it was too late. He put me on another medication which would turn out to be unhelpful for my condition. I attempted to take my own life again and began turning psychotic. This time I waited in A&E again for around 27 hours before being transported to a short stay unit where we had to sleep on chairs for around three days. Eventually, I got transferred to a women’s unit in Blackburn where I stayed for about a week. However, after this I got moved again to a hospital in Ormskirk where I stayed for the duration of my recovery.

Due to me now being an adult, this was a scarier situation. The ward was an uncomfortable, daunting place. There were some unpleasant people there and it only caused me to deteriorate even more so. At the time, I had a wound on my back which I think contributed to my psychotic break. It took over a year to heal and I had to have two operations on it and consequently missed a lot of time at University. I had hallucinations that the nurses were trying to make the wound deeper, and I could feel it going deep into my body when they dressed it. I believed I was on a television programme, where all the doctors and nurses were acting. One day I believed I was Lady Gaga and the next I believed I was Hitler. My delusions were crazy.

During this hospital stay, they changed my current medication. This worked to bring me out of the psychotic episode eventually, but it caused me to be in a constant manic state. I couldn’t stop moving, dancing, doing anything I could. And when I came out of hospital I wasn’t well, I was hyper-manic. I participated in self-destructive behaviours such as spending all my money, sleeping around, self-harm and trying to cut off my girlfriend and friends. It has taken months to get another medication review. In the past month, I attempted to take my own life again and ended up this time not in hospital but a pleasant crisis house for a week. Here we had more freedom, and had sessions from the workers there. I had sessions dedicated to my bi polar, my high moods, anxiety, depression and self-harm. I believe this short stay really helped me get back on track and realise that getting help doesn’t always have to be daunting.

Finally, I have had my medication review and am on the way to getting back on my original meds which didn’t cause this constant mania. I am aiming to be back at university in September and have supportive friends and family around me. The system is a scary one and definitely not the best arranged for people experiencing psychosis. The long waits to be seen is ridiculous and the lack of support when trying to get in touch with doctors is terrible. It seems you only get the help when you actually do something, rather than when you tell them you believe you’re going to experience a relapse. In my recovery, I have found friends and family to be the most helpful and of course, writing. I don’t know where I would be today without writing and poetry. They honestly have saved my life. As cliche as that sounds, it is writing which has given me a purpose, a means to talk about these issues which need addressing in today’s society. So many people suffer in silence and this doesn’t have to be the way. We need the government to put into action more support to help people with mental health, such as more hospitals and wards and houses like the one I stayed in.

Just remember, there are always numbers you can call if you feel suicidal. The Samaritans are great (Call 116 123). Speak to family and friends. Speak to us. Speak to anyone you can. Because this life is worth living, and you must not let your mental illness win. It is not something you can control, I know that from my own experiences, but it is something that can be talked about, that can be learnt to cope with.

This article is by Faye Bretherton, the co-founder of this page. Her other works can be found on Twitter/Instagram @morg4nlefaye or on her personal blog morgainlefaye.wordpress.com

My Struggles With Bi-Polar Disorder – Will Parker

This picture was taken exactly a year ago today. Olivia and I had only known each other for a little over a month. We became fast friends. She was there for me on this evening that I chose to go to Methodist Hospital for a psychiatric evaluation. We brought a ukulele in the car and made up songs on the way there. Looking back, it was a lovely memory all in all. The tele-psyche at the hospital determined I was not a danger to myself or others and didn’t need to spend the night, but they did suggest a three week intensive outpatient program which I opted to do. More backstory: When I was a sophomore in high school, one of my best friends was shot and killed. The next year around the same time (October), I became depressed for the first time in my life—crying every night, thinking I would never have fun again, not able to perform basic life tasks. I started seeing a therapist weekly and that helped…a lot. Started seeing another in college and was diagnosed as bipolar. Got on some meds, a couple years after that, got sober. I thought I had the mental illness thing all under control. Then in Oct 2016 and again in Oct 2017, I experienced worse mania than ever before. In 2016, I added meds, balanced out soon and didn’t need to visit the hospital. 2017 brought extra challenges with multiple triggers that surfaced. I took three weeks off work from my teaching job and planned on returning; however, I realized I had to step down to take care of my mental health and pursue music full-time instead. A few months after that, I had the inututive felt sense to apply to Yale Divinity School—and here I am! I’ve been very fortunate that through psychiatry (CBT & EMDR), proper/effective meds, 12 Step work, a spiritual path and the support of family and friends, I am doing well today. And without bipolar, I wouldn’t be the person I am today. If you’re going though something or are close to someone who is, know there is help out there. Just ask. -Will Parker of @JunkyardFort – Doesn’t want to be anonymous 🙂

Website below for further information.

https://t.co/5HkKkB53ZF

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