Saturday, 27 May 2017

Guest Post: How to Survive a Mental Illness


Today I have a guest post for you from James R Robinson. James is a writer and blogger and wanted to share the below with all my lovely readers. I hope you enjoy.


How to Survive a Mental Illness

www.pexels.com
Having a mental illness is really tough. There are loads of people complaining about all the pile of work that they have to finish before the week is over. There are lots of people complaining about their tough schedule whereas there are other people who have bigger problems.

Even if you are battling a dragon right now, there is still no greater battle than battling with one’s head. Yes, I am talking about depression and other mental illness.

There are lots of people who take mental illness lightly, thinking that mental illness is just a matter of self-motivation. Some people think that mental illness is just a matter of having enough will power. But it is really not.

A mental illness is a real illness. As a matter of fact it is the worst illness of them all. It is really hard. At one point you’ll be happy and then the next thing you know you are feeling below yourself. All of a sudden, it is like you don’t know your worth anymore.

Just think about going through all that trouble every single day. There will be definitely be a time when you’ll feel like you want to give up. But you just can’t. So, here are some tips to help you survive if you have mental illness:

Go for a psychologist that give you value and respect
You already have mental illness. You already doubt your own self-existence. The last thing you need is someone giving you more reasons to doubt yourself. 
You need someone who can show and remind you every time you are feeling down that you are valuable. Your psychologist should be someone who can remind you that you are respected despite what you think. 

Commit to your treatment plan
Planning in healing mental illness is the same with all other plans. You have to stick to it. Otherwise, nothing is going to happen. 
It doesn’t matter even if you hire the greatest psychologist in the entire world, if you are not going to commit to it. 
Once your psychologist gives you medication, you should do your best to commit to it. 

Spend time with your family 
People are used to spending time with the wrong people. Oftentimes, we spend our time with the people who always see our flaws. 
We should not focus on our flaws. There is nothing wrong with wanting to be better, but we should still focus on spending time with people who can remind us of our good sides. 

Author Bio
James R. Robinson is an essayist for hqassignments.net. Needless to say, he has a passion for words. Most of his relatives are quite obsessed with science. His family is a streak line of businessmen, architects, doctors, and lawyers. He, on the other hand, chose art. He chose to write. Even so, he doesn’t think he’s that far off. Being a writer isn’t all art. It’s a part science and half art. So, he’s sort of in between them.

Monday, 15 May 2017

Mental health in the workplace

I'm a 24 year old professional who works 9-5 in an office-based job. Sounds pretty boring, right?

I actually love my job, and I know I'm one of the few lucky enough to say that. I enjoy the challenges, the mundane everyday tasks, and often not knowing a new day will bring.

As someone who usually has extreme anxiety when facing the unknown, I'm surprisingly okay with the fast pace and level of uncertainty that comes with my job. Yes, you see I am also mentally ill.

Mental illness can present challenges in any environment, but it's something that it commonly tricky in the workplace. I have both friends and acquaintances who have personally faced stigma and discrimination at work due to their mental health. Some have been bullied and harassed due to their illness.

A study published today found that almost half of all people in Ireland's capital city would not want to work with someone who has a mental illness.Half of people surveyed would not want to work with ME. And let me tell you, they're missing out because I am darn good at my job.

Today I want to talk about me experiences with mental health in the workplace, and why I'm now succumbing to stigma and keeping my mental illness under wraps.

Over the past four years, I've been in a number of unpaid or low-paid internships, and part-time jobs. Mental health was a topic that would come up naturally. My CV and past experience is littered with mental health awareness campaigns and events, and I am proud to have been Chairperson of a mental health committee in my university. As a result, I've had job interviews where I told prospective line managers about my mental health mid-interview.
"What inspired you to gt involved in mental health campaigns?" "Well, I ended up getting involved in mental health awareness after my own mental breakdown..."
The topic was on the table. And if I felt that I needed to, I knew the way for paved for me to talk to my line manager about my mental health.

That's not to say I haven't faced stigma. I've sat around the lunch table with colleagues where I've had to listen to:
"Terrorists are all mentally ill. There's no other excuse."
"I always thought depression wasn't real; it's just something in your head."
"Donald Trump has to have a mental illness. All the signs are there."

There have been times where I felt confident enough to rebuff a throwaway comment about mental illness with fact and logic. But there have been other times where I've kept my head down and my mouth shut. Or where my personal experience of mental illness has been dismissed with some pseudo-science someone has read online.

But now that I'm in a 9-5 full-time job? I've kept my mental health relatively under wraps.
As an online advocate and offline mental health ambassador, I know I'm being a hypocrite. I know that I should wear my badge with pride and start the conversations required to end stigma. But life's not that simple. And stigma is real, and sometimes fear of this barrier is too high for me to breakdown. Sometimes remembering what people I know have faced and been put through for revealing their mental health in work causes me to fear the same stigma that I may have to deal with.

Like when filling out forms on my medical history before I could start my job. I sat staring at that form for at least ten minutes trying to decide whether I would admit my own diagnoses or current medication.
Where would this files live? Would my colleagues have access to this data? Could someone in HR look up my medical history and discuss it over lunch with another colleague? Would it be passed on to my managers?

Or when faced with another form for declaring your disability. Was my illness currently debilitating enough to be classified as a disability? What if it's not today but is tomorrow?

Here I am staring at paper and inflicting stigma on myself.
I have no reason to presume my workplace would be unsupportive. But I choose to hide. I feel safer this way. This is how I protect myself any possible future hurt.

This way, I don't have to have a comeback when someone makes a stupid, inaccurate comment about mental illness.
This way, I don't have to be the one explaining why not all terrorists are mentally ill.
This way, I don't have to defend my very diagnosis.

But here's what I will do. I will put some Green Ribbon posters up in my office and stick some green ribbons in the canteen. Because maybe someday I will feel ready to tell a co-worker why I got into this line of work. And I want them to be ready.

This May is Green Ribbon month. Wear a green ribbon and show that you are willing to talk about mental health and end the stigma.
Visit www.greenribbon.ie to find out more.

Thursday, 11 May 2017

5 reasons why I take medication for my mental health every day

Like me, I'm sure you've heard the arguments about the overuse of medication in mental illness and why taking medication is bad.

Sure, big-Pharma sponsor my mental illness. Prescribing anti-depressants is an industry. Increases in diagnoses of mental illness over the past few decades also reflect the rise of the anti-depressant industry.

And if you're like me, you might also be absolutely sick of hearing these arguments. Yes, taking medication for a mental illness is incredibly common. Often, it's the 'go to' method for medical professionals treating a mental illness, which isn't right. And taking any medication comes with side effects. But that doesn't mean that I or others shouldn't be taking them.

I've been told by medical professionals that I should try to wean myself off antidepressants as soon as possible, that they're addictive, and I've even been advised to stone-cold quit taking them without any support. If even the medical profession have mixed opinions regarding medication and mental illness, how are we, the patients and service users, meant to know what to do?

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to medication and mental health. And often, the voices saying don't take them are loudest and increase the stigma for those of us who rely on them.

For six years I have been taking medication daily for my depression. It took time to find a combination and dosage that works. Medication is not a quick fix for your illness. There is no 'one cure for all'. You won't wake up happy. You won't be cured. But for many people, like me, it's a start.


So despite the stigma, I keep taking my pills. Here are five reasons why I take medication for my mental health every day:

  1. They help me to sleep
  2. They clear the fog
  3. They have allowed me to feel again
  4. They have given me back hope that things can and do get better, and hope for the future
  5. They make recovery possible

They say you're not recovered if you still take medication. To me, recovery is about being brave enough to help yourself. And medication helps me.

It is naive and dangerous to ignore the many people who have had successful results with anti-depressants. So please don’t judge those on medication, those on medication for a long time, or those who will always be on medication. It is nothing to be ashamed about. We don't do it to support the multinational corporations that manufacture medication, we do it to survive. 

Tuesday, 2 May 2017

Why I'm Wearing a Green Ribbon this month

This month, you may spot people wearing a simple green ribbon.

The idea is simple, by wearing the green ribbon, thousands of people are showing their support for ending the silence around mental health.

This year is the fifth year of the Green Ribbon campaign organised by See Change, national programme to change minds about mental health problems in Ireland and end stigma. Half a million green ribbons are being given out for free throughout the country for the whole month of May.

See Change say: "You don’t need to be an expert to start talking about mental health or have all the answers. Sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is to let someone know that you are there for them and simply listen."

Here's why I am choosing to wear my green ribbon again this May.

I am an ambassador for ending the silence around mental health.
It's a symbol of support for a worthy campaign.
It helps create awareness.

I want people to see the ribbon and ask me why I'm wearing it.
I want people to see the ribbon and know that they can talk to me about mental health.
I want people to see the ribbon and without having to say anything, they know that they are not alone.
I want to end the silence and stigma around mental health for me, for those closest to me, for my friends with mental health issues, and for the people I haven't had the privilege of meeting yet.
I want everyone and anyone who is struggling with their mental health to know that they are not alone, and that talking about mental health is a sign of strength.
Whatever your reason for wearing it, you can pick up green ribbons at train stations, all Boots stores and at events in your local areas.

You can find out more about the Green Ribbon project and the events taking place in your community at www.greenribbon.ie.

Monday, 24 April 2017

It's been six years since I was labelled 'depressed'

This month marks six years since my diagnosis with depression. And boy has it been a whirlwind of ups and downs, battles, wins and losses. Many of which have been documented on this here blog.

I've graduated from university. Twice.
I've had three internships, one part-time job, and one full-time permanent job.
I'm on my third cat and also gained two dogs.
I've gone from self-harm to self care.
I've been diagnosed with anxiety.
I've faced stigma in the workplace.
I've faced stigma from my peers.
I've stigmatised myself.
I've turned my mental illness into something positive.
I've been interviewed about my mental illness on national TV and in national newspapers.
I've found a positive and supportive relationship.

As I write this, I feel content.
I am happy with where I am in my life. My job. My home. My relationships.
I am happy with what I can see in my future.
I take two types of medication daily.
I have more good days than bad days.
I've found a balance between self care and my commitments. It's not always perfect, but I get there in the end.

I cringe at the word 'recovery'. It's been six years and I am not recovered. Am I in recovery? Maybe. Maybe not.
My mental illness has been a journey. I'm still on this journey.
But I'm still celebrating. The fact that I am still on this journey is a victory.

It's been six years since I was labelled 'depressed'. I've learned to love this label, and everything that it's brought with it into my life. Both the good and the bad. Here's to the next six.

Monday, 3 April 2017

Sorry you think I’m rude but

I'm sorry you think I’m rude but
  • I was planning out something to say in my head
  • I was feeling self-conscious
  • I was thinking about how I’m socially awkward
  • I was worrying whether you already didn’t like me
  • I didn’t know what to say
  • I find it really hard to talk to strangers
  • I was worrying about whether you’ve found out I’m mentally ill
  • I was wondering if what I just said was stupid
  • I was scared I'd say something stupid
  • I feel safer on my phone than talking to an actual person
  • I had another social interaction earlier today and it did not go well
  • I was remembering that mean thing a girl said to me when I was 10
  • I feel unworthy of anyone’s attention today
  • My chest feels tight and I’m not sure why
  • I feel left out
  • I know everyone’s talking about me
  • I was actually trying not to cry
  • I was afraid I would cry
People with mental illness often come across as rude or standoffish. But really, we’re just paranoid and worried about what you think of us. We can be self-conscious and shy. We can act reclusive because we presume no one likes us. Some of us have social anxiety. Talking to strangers, or even people we know well, can cause us anxiety. And sometimes we try to avoid all social interaction because of that.

Please be patient and don’t judge us just yet. It can take us a while to feel comfortable around new people, and to pluck up the courage to smile and talk to you.

Wednesday, 29 March 2017

Making friends with anxiety is hard

Making friends when you have anxiety is hard.

You hate meeting new people.
You don't see anyone you meet as 'potential friends'. They're 'potential people to dislike me'.

You worry about what everyone thinks of you all the time.
What will I wear? Will they judge me for this dress? Only like 70% of first impressions are based on your actual appearance, so no pressure.
I know I'm not important enough for people to think about, but they are definitely thinking something negative about me right now.

You hate meeting people who already know each other.
So am I the only one here who doesn't share the these childhood memories? 
How do you even join in with those conversations? 

You overthink everything.
Maybe they're only being nice because they feel sorry for me?
When can we officially call this a friendship? Like, are we friends yet? It's been 30 seconds without incident, so I call this a record.

You try not to give your mental health away.
Did they notice that I scratch myself and keep pulling on my hair?
Someone says 'The weather's been so depressing' and you freeze before questioning whether your opposition to this phrase will reveal your mentally ill state. 

Trying to keep friendships with anxiety is also a challenge.

You can't text them first, it'll only annoy them.
They're busy, you don't want to annoy them. Basically, this friendship is little more than a huge annoyance to the other person. Initiating contact actually terrifies me, so if you could text me first, that'd be great.

Lack of motivation
And other times, texting another person is a huge effort. You put it off, and off, and off until it's four months later and even renewing contact at this stage is embarrassing.

Having a friend is also scary.
You are setting yourself up for direct rejection. They won't show up to brunch and you'll be left there trying to decide if you should just leave or eat something while sitting there alone. Friendship is like handing another person a grenade to throw at you. And it really freaking hurts, trust me.

Am I over-friending this person?
Is there such a thing as being too keen? Are you coming on too strongly by suggesting three potential dates that suit to meet up? It all comes back to overthinking.

WHAT DID THEY MEAN BY THAT MESSAGE?
'See you soon' means they haven't come up with any alternative plans, so do they not want to see me again?
I mean, this might be an overreaction, but I'm pretty sure my friend's style of writing just changed overnight and now they hate me.



As a teenager, I hated social events. Heck, I hated any sort of interaction with another person. I used to make my sister take my clothes to the checkout so I wouldn't have to face the shopkeeper-induced anxiety.
Every time I left the house I would feel physically sick or have knots in my stomach. Going to school or meeting a friend was hell for me. I used to always have a fear that I would arrive at an event and no one else would be there. It was all a ploy to embarrass me. I'd be left on my own. I presumed most people I knew didn't like me. That I was the victim in some sort of life-long Carrie style prank.

But I'd try to put up a front, at least in school anyway. And I'd still attend every single event, and experience that severe anxiety in the process, just to try and get people to like me.

I'd like to say I've come a long way from those days, but the truth is, I haven't. If anything, I'm more anxious than ever when it comes to people. I'm more reclusive now than I was as a teenager.
 My ability to fake it until I make it has long since evaporated.

I had a major anxiety attack a few weeks ago. I was travelling solo on the train out to meet a friend, to a place I'd never been before. I started profusely sweating. I felt nauseous and faint, and panicky. I seriously contemplated turning back, going home and crawling into bed to cry. Instead, I cried at the train station before forcing myself to board the train and crying some more on a packed carriage. And in the end, I had an amazing time and felt so stupid for having gotten worked up about something that other people do every day.

And that's the thing about anxiety and friends. That what is so simple and comes naturally to other people, we tend to overthink, overreact to, panic and obsess over. Our brains are wired to make these situations difficult. I'd much rather stay shut in my bedroom by myself than bump into someone I know on the street. I hate answering phonecalls, and making phonecalls. And don't get me started about confrontation or I won't be able to sleep for a week.

Making friend with anxiety is hard. So give us some space, a break and take it easy, okay?