Monthly Archives: September 2015

What has depression taught me?

This blog is based on something asked by The Depression Army on twitter. This is my personal perspective of what I believe depression has taught me over the years. I have had depression for many years, since I was a teenager. Therefore I believe it has shaped me and taught me many things.

The first thing I believe depression has taught me is who my real friends are, When you’re open with people about having depression it can be a negative experience,, but there can be positive responses too. These responses led to me realising who was going to stick by me and be my friend throughout my battle with depression. It also led me to make new friends who have become some of the closest friends I have. Through having depression I have learnt who will be there for me in the darkest of times and who only wishes to be a fair weather friend; someone who is only there for the good times,

The second thing depression has taught me is about how strong I can be in the face of some of the darkest parts of my life. I may of struggled through and found depression hard to manage a lot of the time but I am still here and surely that shows some strength? I believe this is the same for anyone battling depression. To still be alive must show some strength despite what the depression itself tells us.

Another thing depression has taught me is that some people just wont be able to understand, or even try to understand, what depression is like and how difficult it can be to even get up in the morning. Depression can be difficult to understand if you don’t have it and therefore it’s understandable some people just won’t know how to cope with someone who has this illness. However there are some people who will just refuse to try and learn what depression is and how it affects someone. This can be harder to deal with than the depression itself at times, especially if the person is someone who is close to you. However, I have come to accept this is part of the life of someone who has depression, which is sad but relates back to knowing who our real friends are.

Depression has also taught me how to be a more caring individual. Suffering from an illness that makes you feel so worthless means that I know I don’t want anyone else to ever feel that way. Therefore I believe having depression has shown me how to offer caring words to others when they are facing tough times, especially when I have been in the same situation. Maybe I’m wrong and say the wrong words but this is what I feel depression has taught and I hope that its true.

The final thing that depression has taught me, that I’m going to discuss today, is to keep talking and sharing my story. Other peoples stories helped me when I first was diagnosed with depression and therefore I hope by sharing my experiences I will do the same for someone else.. Also by continuing to talk it makes me feel less alone with an illness that feeds off of loneliness. This is something I have learnt by suffering with the depression.

Overall depression has taught me many things, only a few of which I have mentioned here. Although depression is a generally a negative experience I believe I have taken many positives from my experience. Depression has been learning curve for me and the people around me. What has depression taught you?

The battle of self-stigma in mental illness

Stigma is a huge part of the battle for those wanting to discuss mental health openly. The definition of stigma is a disgrace associated with a particular circumstance, quality or person. Normally this is caused by someone else’s view on the circumstance, quality or person, however just recently I have read a lot about self-stigma and this is what I want to discuss today, mainly because I believe I am guilty of this too.

Now I know this might sound slightly strange considering I write about my mental health quite openly. I am, though, nowhere near as open in real life about some aspects of my mental health. My family for example know about my depression but not about my Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD or formerly BPD) and this is down to how I see the condition in myself.

Please don’t get me wrong here; if someone told me they had EUPD I would not think negatively of them. I would actually, probably, be open with them about my own diagnosis. Yet if someone was to ask me for my diagnosis I would be reluctant to mention the EUPD unless I really had to or felt comfortable that the person I was talking to would not be negative towards me for that diagnosis. This is for me a form of self-stigma and helps fuel the stigma surrounding a personality disorder. It is something I feel ashamed of and that really isn’t right.

So why do I feel this about my EUPD diagnosis? I am after all much more open about my anxiety and depression diagnoses. Well I think it comes down to the stigma that there seems to be with mental health professionals surrounding personality disorders. I have heard of mental health professionals not treating symptoms of those with BPD as they see it as part of the “manipulative” nature that the disorder supposedly has (I hugely disagree with this myth). I have also had experiences where I was told that, because I have this diagnosis, I am manipulative and other myths that surround EUPD/BPD. Therefore, if a health professional is going to act in this way, how can I expect someone without the knowledge of the condition to act?

So what can I do to change this? I hope that by writing this blog and attending events linked to mental health I will gradually gain the confidence to not only talk about my diagnosis but also some of the symptoms I have from my diagnoses. I also hope that by writing and campaigning against the stigma surrounding mental health, the stigma surrounding personality disorders will reduce. This will hopefully make it easier for those of us who have them, as a diagnosis, to discuss what we deal with on a day-to-day basis.

Hearing Voices/Pseudo hallucinations: A personal perspective.

An updated version of a post I posted in April

Me and My Mental Health Matters

This piece is a personal view of hearing voices and pseudo hallucinations. These views are my own experiences and may not be the same for everyone. If you have concerns relating to the topic please get in contact with a health professional or check out the useful websites for services that may be able to provide more information. Please also be trigger aware when reading this piece.

I hear voices. There I’ve said it. It is one of the scariest things that I have admitted to in regard to my mental health. In fact it took me a while to admit it to my psychiatrist and I have not been open about it with many of my friends or family. Why? Because I thought that they would section me straight away or keep their distance from me. I have however decided its time for me to write about it. Especially…

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Life After a Suicide Attempt *Please Be Trigger Aware*

This is a personal piece that discusses suicide and self-harm. Please be trigger aware. If you are having issues related to these subject please check out the useful websites page for further advice.

Today I want to discuss something personal that I’ve very rarely discussed with anyone. It’s been seven years and it’s still a painful topic for me to discuss but I feel it’s a topic that is still very taboo and I believe that needs to change. I’m talking about suicide and most of all surviving an attempt at taking my own life.

A bit of background first of all. I was nineteen. I was studying at university as well as working part time. I had minimal support with my mental health in the form of seeing my GP once a month. None of my family knew I had any issues. I was also self-harming as a way of coping. I was sinking fast but at the time I couldn’t see where I was heading in any way, shape or form.

Then a couple of months before my twentieth birthday I decided I’d had enough and couldn’t cope anymore. I won’t go into details suffice to say I ended up in accident and emergency under police escort. I wasn’t sectioned though and was sent home with the words that I wasn’t serious about my attempt ringing in my ears. This was the start of my rocky relationship with mental health services which continues to this day.

The first few days after my attempt were a blur of my family finding out and doctor’s appointments to start getting the care I needed. I went back to work. I just had one overriding feeling at the time; failure. Failure at not taking my own life. Failure at not coping with normal situations. This led to an increase in my self-harming behaviours. I was a mess. I couldn’t see a way forward.

Months after my attempt I was finally seen by a psychiatrist and really started engaging with mental health teams. Although I was by now twenty I was still put under a specialist CAMHS team. I started having therapy. I hadn’t missed any of my university course so was luckily still on track for my degree, things looked good but I couldn’t see it still. Depression was clouding my vision still and I knew that the thoughts of wanting to die were still there. It wasn’t a magical solution. This wasn’t what I thought living after an attempt would be like. I’d spoken to others who had made attempts and not one of them had said that they still had these feelings. It had all been about how they had regretted making the attempt in the first place. Why was I so different? Truth is I wasn’t different to anyone. It was just people seem to hide that they still feel bad in order to make others feel better. I know I did this with my family. I said I was fine so that things would go back to normal although in truth they never would.

Now years on I look back and see that I’m glad survived. It did, however, take years to feel this way and I do still have days where I slip back into the thinking that followed me around after my attempt. Things have changed for me and I have my degree and I am writing which is something I never envisioned I do. I have friends who are amazing and who came into my life after the attempt but during the bad times. I have you guys reading this.

I don’t want you to think that suicide is the only option or to make an attempt. I want you to see from this that getting help can make things change. I had to go to an extreme to end up getting help but you don’t need to. Help is out there if you open up about your feelings and speak to someone about the thoughts you are having. You never know where you might be in seven years or more.