Monthly Archives: July 2017

We are 4!

Today, July 30th 2017, marks the 4th birthday of Me and My Mental Health Matters. I just thought I’d write a small post to reflect on the last four years and to say thank you to everyone who has supported me and my little blog. 

A look back 

When I started my blog I was struggling to deal with my different diagnoses and was sure that I couldn’t write. I decided to start the blog to give me an outlet for my thoughts on different mental health topics. I hoped to help erase some of the stigma surrounding mental illness by adding my voice to those who were already speaking out. But my blog became much more than that to me. It has become a place where I feel able to share my personal views and experiences and part of the reason for this is the huge amount of support I’ve received from the mental health community. For that I’m so grateful. 

Writing has given me some wonderful opportunities from writing for some wonderful charities to attending Time to Change’s story camp. I have had my work shared by my inspiration, Jonny Benjamin, which was a personal highlight, and been able to reach out to a wonderful community. I feel very lucky. 

The future

I hope that this blog continues in the future. I’ve really enjoyed writing and sharing my experiences. I hope that you’ve enjoyed reading it too. I hope that more opportunities will arise and I will continued to be part of the wonderful mental health community. 

Thank you

All that is left for me to say is a huge thank you for all the support that you and the community has given me. I am grateful to everyone who takes the time to read my blog. Thank you!

Holidays

Holidays are meant to be enjoyable occasions where you get away from it all, relax or take in some new sights. However if you have a mental illness they can be far from enjoyable and instead trigger negative thoughts and anxiety. 

I recently went on holiday and found myself bathed in anxiety and intrusive thoughts. Therefore I thought I would write a bit about them and some of the ways I coped. 

My first anxiety was about packing. I always find it highly stressful and convince myself I am going to leave something absolutely essential behind. I also worry about what I am going to wear each day as, for me, I have to have it planned in advance. To help ease this anxiety I made mental lists and set out my clothes before packing. This helped me see that I had everything and planned my outfits. You could also make actual physical lists to overcome this stress. 

My next anxiety came over leaving the house. I was convinced something bad would happen to it while we were away. I have this same fear sometimes when leaving the house for a few hours but leaving it for days it was multiplied. Part of my anxiety was managed by the fact we had someone coming in to water the plants so the house wouldn’t be left for a whole week. Another way I dealt with it was checking thins were secure prior to leaving. It just gave me peace of mind. 

The journey was the next anxiety provoking aspect for me, especially e fact that we would have to find places to stop along the way. This was fairly simple to overcome by lookin at the route prior to leaving and seeing what places were available.

Eating out always causes me anxiety and on holiday this is usually something we do a lot of. My anxiety centres around different things related to eating out; from finding a place to eat, to what’s on the menu, to whether we’ll get a seat. All these things race through my mind and twist my stomach in knots. One way we tackled this was to look up eating places before we went out for the day, but some of the anxiety I just had to bare and use strategies to not allow it to take over. There will always be some unknowns.

Finally, a big anxiety for me was linked to toilets. I have a huge issue with using other peoples toilets and public toilets are near on impossible. So how did I deal with being away from my own toilet for a week? I struggled as there was no easy solution and I had to force myself into the situation and use coping strategies to control the anxiety and negative thoughts. 

So overall holidays offer many triggers and pressures. I hope by sharing my issues you will feel less alone with your struggles. I hope if you have a holiday planned you enjoy it but remember it is also OK to not be OK. If you have any tips for dealing with holidays feel free to share in the comments.

Reacting to Suicide in the Media

Please be trigger aware when reading this piece. 

I’m writing this piece after hearing about the suicide of Chester Bennington, the lead singer of Linkin Park. I’ve seen a lot of different reports and posts about his death and have felt really affected by it all so thought I would discuss how I feel and some things to consider when dealing with this kind of news. 

My first emotion on reading about Chester’s death by suicide was absolute shock and disbelief. I couldn’t take it in. He was such an icon and part of my life through his music. And seeing the out pouring of love for him made me feel sad that he couldn’t see it in himself. It also made me think about my own attempts on my life and if I’d been successful. It also triggered me slightly. 

The next thing that bothered me was the way some of the reports were written and some of the language that was being used. Before I go on I must point out that both Time to Change and the Samaritans offer guidelines to reporting suicide. These I found really interesting to read. Especially as some reporters quite obviously haven’t read these. A major thing that needs to be pointed out was the number of people still using the term ‘commit’ suicide instead of died by suicide. This is important as the term commit suicide relates to when suicide was still a crime. This hasn’t been the case for many years yet the term is still seen consistently. This needs to change and can only be done by holding people to account of their reporting style and language. 

Another thing that bothered me was the reporting of the method of suicide. I found this particularly triggering and I don’t think I am alone in this. A guideline I would like to see added would be for trigger warnings to be added to these posts to help people like myself. Or for methods not to be mentioned at all. 

The last thing I want to tackle is the people who have called Chester selfish. I know for people who have not been there it is hard to understand but suicide is one of the least selfish acts. Each person has their own reasons but I am sure they have considered others before acting. They may have spent days going over everything. Considering everyone. Please don’t judge. You have no idea of the pain. 

So those are a few of my reactions to suicide in the media including social media. I hope it can help people understand and change the way they portray suicide in the media and on their social media. What are your thoughts?