Monthly Archives: February 2014

Medication matters

Medication is probably a major part in many people’s management of their mental illness (I say probably as I was unable to find any clear statistics about the number of people on medication). It is in mine.

One of my medications is currently being reduced in order to try something new. Another new medication. I’ve tried many over the years, as I’m sure others do to. The problem I have is whether maybe our doctors are too ‘pill happy’ and whether they are overlooking other treatments in their quest to cure us.

Now let me be clear, I don’t think that medication is totally redundant in our treatment at all, quite the opposite really. I feel that medication shouldn’t be our only treatment. Medication, as part of a plan with other forms of treatment as well, I believe is very important. I do however also believe that it is our right to question the medications we take and ask for them to be changed if we feel there are effects from the medications that we are unhappy with.

I feel this is the right time to say also that no changes to your medication should be made without speaking to a doctor or professional first. We are not pharmacists on the whole and therefore this can be dangerous.

Now back to the point at hand, asking for changes to our medications and/or using medication in conjunction with other treatment options. Medication is one of many different treatments. There are many people who believe that medication alone cannot cure or aid recovery. This, as well as some of the major side effects caused by psychiatric medication, is a reason to look further afield for possible ways to ease your symptoms of mental illness.

A list of other possible therapies that could be of use either alongside or instead of drug therapy is exhaustive, but includes such things as mindfulness, access to talking therapies as well as possible alternative therapies. No one should be afraid to ask their medical professionals about these alternatives and no one should be discouraged from trying anything that could possibly benefit them, if it is safe for them to do so.

Often we are told or made to feel that medication is the only treatment available to us but this is simply not true. More often the problem is a lack of funding in our particular primary care trusts for certain therapies. This can be a real problem but does not mean we should suffer with medication as our only life line.

By asking for other alternatives we are taking control of our own recovery. This is important as we also need to be aware of what we are putting in our bodies and the effects it will have on us not only while taking it but also as we try to come off of it.

My personal experience of medication has been a bumpy ride. After trying numerous anti depressants, some of which only made my symptoms worse, I ended up on my current medication. This medication, Venlafaxine, has some awful side effects, especially if you are trying to come off of it or even if you miss a dose. I was never told how this medication, or to be more specific it’s withdrawal, would effect me. It was a nasty surprise when I missed a dose and ended up feeling physically unwell as a result. This led to a lengthy battle to persuade my psychiatrist to allow me to come off it. It also involved me having a battle to get other possible therapies that could help.

I was lucky. I had a very good friend to be my advocate. Without her I would probably still be on my high dosage off this drug and would never of gained access to the talking therapy that I ended up receiving. Instead I’m now nearly weaned from this drug and had a 16 week course of therapy with an offer of more in the future.

So here is my main message. Ask about your treatment options, or find an advocate who can for you. Medication may not be the only way to treat your illness and it is important you know all the weapons that are at your disposal. Again, medication may be an aid in your treatment, but it may also need something more to help in the battle.

For more information on different treatment options check out the links in the Useful Websites post. These sites have details on other possible treatments.

6th February = #TimetoTalk day

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I’ve mentioned before how important I feel it is to talk about mental health and therefore for today I’ve been a little stumped about how to address this important event. My solution though is to consider ways of starting a conversation about mental health.

Now you may be thinking “I can’t do that, what will people think?” My answer is that is the reason we need to do it. To make people see that mental health is a part of everyone’s lives.

So how to do it?

This is where it seems a bit more tricky, but really it’s not. Talking about mental health can be as simple as asking someone how they are feeling. It can be sending a text message to someone you know is struggling. It doesn’t need to be a massive gesture.

If you want people you work with to start thinking about mental health why not stick up a print out from the Time to Change website and stand back and see what people do or point it out and see how people interact about their own mental health. I’m sure you’ll be surprised just how many people act in a positive way. Maybe you could even persuade them to sign up to Time to Change’s pledge wall (see their website, in the useful websites post, for full details).

All in all my message to you is that no matter how small a gesture you can do, what matters is doing something. Together our small acts become big acts and we begin to really tackle the stigma surrounding mental health. Be one in a million. Take time to talk today!

An update

Hey guys. I decided to update you on what’s been happening and why I have not been writing  for a while.

First of all an apology for my absence. It’s been a few up and down months. I went through a block of therapy and have started going to a peer support group. We also had Christmas in the middle which added it’s own challenges. Therefore my writing fell by the way side and it is only now that I am starting to sort things out and get back my inspiration and motivation to write. Thank you for having stuck with me still.

I’m now looking to start adding more to this blog and possibly continue on a novel I started to write. Hopefully this will mean there will be more posts to this blog and maybe even more work shared with the different charities that have already kindly shared my work, and more.

As before I am so grateful if you have stuck with me and I aim to repay you with more work towards the aim of removing stigma surrounding mental illness and other areas in this field. 

For more information like the page on Facebook (see Useful Websites) or you can now follow us on Twitter @meandmymhmatter

Why opening up over depression is a positive thing to do. (Originally published by The Blurt Foundation on 18th November 2013)

This post was originally written for The Blurt Foundation and can be found on there website at this link: http://blurtitout.org/2013/11/18/why-opening-up-over-depression-is-a-positive-thing-to-do-by-jo/?utm_source=hootsuite&utm_campaign=hootsuite 

We are always told that opening up about having a mental health issue is a good thing to do but with the stigma surrounding mental illness it is understandable that we are reticent to do this. However, I have to say that when two years ago my diagnosis of depression came out into the open in many areas of my life I found there was a positive side to being so open.

A bit of back ground about myself; I have had depression on and off since I was a teenager, I’m now 24. Two years ago I lost my job after my private battle became very public and I had a break down at work. Suddenly everyone knew my big secret. People who I had worked with for over a year, and who didn’t have a clue about my mental health issues, became aware that I was suffering from depression. To my surprise this wasn’t the disaster I thought it would be.

Instead of judgement and avoidance, most of my former colleagues were very supportive. Some even opened up to me about their own personal battles or those of people in their family. I found myself surrounded by people who understood what I was, and had, been going through. Suddenly I didn’t feel quite so alone with everything that was going on; instead other people were talking to me about what they felt and how they had moved forward in their lives.

It was also useful for my family who found people discussing and reassuring them that it wasn’t the end of the world. My mother, in particular, found that opening up to people about some of my mental health battles gave her support and not the judgement that she had been expecting. She found that she could also understand more about what I was going through as people explained retrospectively about how they had felt in a way that I was unable to do while going through some of the darkest parts of my depression.

My experiences of opening up about depression were on the whole positive and something I would suggest that everyone should do as you will be surprised at just how many people are going through similar things. My diagnosis came out by accident but in many ways I’m pleased it did, although I wish I had had more control over how it occurred. This is why I encourage people with depression to open up and start a conversation. Hopefully you will get the same positive responses that I had and maybe feel less alone.

I would also like to put in a word about any stigma that you do come across. Although I generally received positive responses, there were some people who couldn’t cope with my illness and who were less than kind to me. For these people I don’t feel angry; I just think it is more an indication about how important it is to be open about mental health and mental illness as a society. If you receive a negative response remind yourself that there are many more people who will be positive towards you and don’t give up on being open.