Monthly Archives: August 2017

Suicidal Thoughts *Trigger Warning*

This is a highly personal piece. For this reason please be aware that the content may be triggering. I am safe and have support in place. I have spoken to mental health professionals. This is unedited. 

Today I planned to end my life. But I’m still here. Alive. Writing to you all. I might write this and never share it or I might decide its an important part of my journey. 

There will probably be lots of questions. The main one will be “why?” Why would I want to end my life? Why would I choose to leave everyone and everything behind? The answers are complicated. And some of it is highly personal. But the main reason is I have lost hope. Lost hope that I can beat these illnesses. Lost hope that I will ever live a fulfilling life. Lost hope that I can win, not only the battle, but the war.

I have been fighting for as long as I can remember. Life has always felt difficult and a struggle. Or at least that is how it feels in this despair that I am currently feeling. There are of course happy times. But in my current mind they are tainted by the memories of the difficult times.

This is depression at its worst. Taking all hope away. Forcing bad memories to the front of my mind. Making me convinced that those around me would benefit from my death. I know this is depression talking, yet I feel powerless to fight it. I feel so far down in the pit of despair that the only viable option, to my mind, is to die. 

But I am still here. Why? What is it that is holding me here when I can only see the bleakness? I don’t really know. Fear plays a part. I am terrified of death. Terrified of the unknown and what, if anything, comes next. I also think I am here because of the what if’s. What if things improve? What if it does hurt people? What if? What if? All racing through my head. 

My feelings about being alive are mixed. There is anger at myself for not being ‘brave’ enough. But then people say I am brave for living? There is anxiety about how low I have become and what this means. What will happen next, when I explain just how bad things got? And there is sadness that things got this far in the first place. Each of these emotions I will have to face.

So these are just some of my thoughts. Some of the ramblings of a poorly mind, because at the end of the day that is what I have to remind myself that I have. If you ever feel this way there are people that can help. The Samaritan’s can be contacted 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on the information below. 

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Mental Health Professionals

This is a post about the different professionals involved in my mental health care. I aim to discuss a bit about what each of them do and my relationships and experiences with them. There are many different professions in mental health care and it can be confusing to know what they do.

1. My GP – I thought I would cover this role first as its normally the first port of call for anyone struggling with their mental health. They can offer advice and medication, as well as referring you on to get help from other professionals. My GPs have on the whole been great. I see two who deal with everything and have been really supportive in getting me the right care. Sometimes it takes a while to find a good GP in the practice; the ones I see now were not the first I approached about my mental health, but keep trying as there are great GPs out there who can act as your advocate.

2. Psychiatrist – This is a doctor of the mind. Mine is involved in prescribing medication and referring me for other treatments and services, such as therapy. I have seen many different psychiatrists over the years, some great, some appalling. Getting one who listens to you and respects your opinion is amazing and can make all the difference. I currently see a different one each time I go which makes continuity of care hard. 

3. Care coordinator – A care coordinator can be any mental health professional and is usually the main point of contact for support. They also sort out your care plan under the care plan approach (CPA). I’m on my second care coordinator after my first left. Neither of mine has actually really made the time to sit down with me yet and discuss my care plan. I hope this changes as I feel I need their support. 

4. Support worker – These are people who support you in different ways, from being a point of contact with services to getting you involved in activities. Me and my support worker don’t always see eye to eye but she has been my regular contact with the mental health team and sees me on a weekly basis (usually, she is currently off sick) to check in with how I am doing and to trouble shoot any problems. 

5. Psychologist – A psychologist is different to a psychiatrist. A psychologist offers talking therapies in order to treat mental illnesses. They have nothing to do with medication. I am currently going through the process of getting an assessment and hopefully starting therapy, and it will be my psychologist who facilitates this all. In the past when I had art therapy I had a great psychologist who really understood me and respected the way I work. I hope this will be the case again. 

6. Crisis team – A crisis team is there to support you when you are particularly unwell and treat you outside of hospital. They will often see you every day for a short period of time. Although they are not currently involved in my care I thought it was important to include them as they do play an important role in keeping people safe in crisis times. I have seen them a number of times with varying responses, unfortunately not all good. Some people find them frustrating. 

So there you have the professionals that are, or have been, involved in my mental health care. There are other professionals that work in mental health but I haven’t had contact with them. Please feel free to share your experiences of different professionals in the comments. It may also be different if you live outside the UK. For more information on mental health professionals check out the Mind website.

Picture from Pinterest 

Sleep and Mental Health

Sleep is a huge part of our lives and can have a massive effect on our well being, both physical and mental. Therefore I thought I would discuss some of the problems I have with sleep as well as some tips to improve sleep.

I have had all sorts of issues with my sleep over the years and, for me, it has become an indicator for when I’m struggling mentally. I can either sleep too much or struggle to get enough sleep. Both have down sides and are a symptom of depression. Currently I am struggling with getting to sleep. I take two medications at night that have a sedative effect but at the moment it is taking hours to fall asleep. This leads to me feeling constantly exhausted. This constant tiredness has an effect on my mood. When I haven’t had enough sleep I feel irritable and a lot lower. My tolerance to deal with things is much lower and I am triggered more easily. So getting enough sleep is vital to me staying mentally stable. 

So what are some tips for improving sleep?

You might of heard people going on about good sleep hygiene before and dismissed it but I have found some bits of it really do work. Here are some things I have tried.

1. Getting a good bedtime routine- I find having a routine for things really helps me. I love routine in many different areas of my life so adding in a routine for bed sounded good for me. My routine involves getting ready for bed at a certain time and building in time to wind down as well as taking my night time medication. My routine is really important to me and I do struggle if its put out at all.

2. Set times to go to bed and get up in the morning – This builds on from having a bed time routine. I have found that having a regular time to go to bed and get up by has helped me to sleep better. It has also improved my mental state as I feel I’ve accomplished something when I stick to it.

3. No screens in bed – I slip up on this one quite a bit but I do find if I haven’t been using a screen in bed I sleep better. This is all to do with the blue light that screens give off. If you feel you need your screen you can get things to reduce the amount of blue light. My tablet even has an option to reduce the blue light. 

4. Not napping for long in the day – This is another one I struggle with as I love a good nap. I’m not saying never nap but try to reduce the amount of time you nap for. Sometimes if I haven’t napped at all I find it harder to get to sleep but short naps are useful. 

There are other things you can do to improve sleep hygiene such as exercise or reduce caffeine. These are not things I have tried so cannot really discuss. For more information check out the Mind website. And if you have any tips for a better nights sleep feel free to share in the comments. 

Image from Pinterest 

Liebster Award

I was nominated for the Liebster Award by shatterthestigmadepression.wordpress.com. The Liebster is an online global award to connect people with new blogs. It was started by Global Aussie back in 2011 and the rules can be found at theglobalaussie.com/blog/liebster-award-2017/. My nomination comes from a wonderful blogger who discusses her battle with depression. I would implore you to check her out. She is awesome. She set 11 questions for me to answer. 
1. Why did you start blogging? I started blogging as a way to share my story and to add my voice to those trying to end the stigma surrounding mental illness. It was also a way for me to come to terms with my diagnoses. 

2. What inspires you? In my writing I am inspired by two people, Jonny Benjamin (the mental health campaigner) and J.K.Rowling (I love Harry Potter). In everyday life I am inspired by the people around me, music and books. 

3. What is your favourite quote? “As I look back on my life, I realise that every time I was being rejected from something good, I was being redirected to something better.”

4. What is your biggest achievement so far? Blogging wise it has to be having my work published by different charities. This has offered me some fantastic opportunities. In life in general, my biggest achievement is getting my degree despite battling with my mental health. 

5. What is your dream for the future? My dream for the future is to write for more charities and continue to break down the stigma surrounding mental illness. 

6. What is your experience of mental health? I struggle with my mental health on a daily basis. I have Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD, also known as BPD), depression and anxiety. I have struggled since I was a teenager. 

7. Have you experienced any stigma associated with mental health? What? I have. I was refused a job on the basis of my mental health. I was told they didn’t think I would cope because I have depression. They didn’t even interview me. 

8. Have you got any strategies that you use to improve your mental health? I try to do some form of self care everyday however small. I also use grounding strategies to help me when I am struggling. This includes dot to dot and origami. I guess writing is also a strategy I use. 

9. Has something happened in your past that affects the person you are? How do you overcome this? I’ve had quite a few things happen in my past that affect how I see myself and have led to my mental health being difficult. I am working to overcome this to some extent with therapy. 

10. What self care do you practice for your mental health? As I’ve said I try to do some form of self care everyday. This can be as simple as having a shower. Other popular forms of self care for me include relaxing in my hammock, playing with my cats or bullet journalling. 

11. What have you learnt about blogging since you started? I have learnt that being honest is important. People relate better when you are honest about struggling. 

My nominations.

Below are my nominations. I think all these blogs are great. I enjoy reading their posts. If you get a chance check them out. 

Blog 1: lisasreality.com

Blog 2: robtalksblog.wordpress.com

Blog 3: aweebitblue.wordpress.com

Blog 4: insideborderline.wordpress.com

Blog 5: liamandhisanxiety.wordpress.com

Blog 6: talkingaboutbpd.blogspot.co.uk

Blog 7: reliefromanxiety.blogspot.com

Blog 8: dearestsomeone.com

Blog 9: thedoodlechroniclesblog.wordpress.com

Blog 10: depresseddetective.com

Blog 11: amysboarderlineworld.com

And my 11 questions for you all are:

  1. What inspired you to start blogging?
  2. How would you describe your blog in 3 words?
  3. What do you like about blogging?
  4. What do you dislike about blogging?
  5. What’s your wish for the future?
  6. What advice would you gibe your younger self?
  7. What advice would you give to someone new to blogging?
  8. What’s your favourite blog post you’ve written so far? 
  9. Why do you keep blogging? 
  10. What’s your favourite quote?
  11. How much would you say blogging has helped you?

I look forward to reading the responses. 

Medication and Mental Health

Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. All that I am writing is my own experience with medication. Every person is different and will react differently to each medication. If you are having issues with your medication please speak to a doctor.

I first started on medication for my mental health when I was 19 and it has been a huge journey full of trial and error. I’m still not even sure I have found the correct combination nine years on. This doesn’t mean it will be the same for you. Some people find the first medication they try works for them.

My current medications for my mental health are Sulpiride (an antipsychotic), Sodium Valproate (a mood stabiliser), Venlafaxine and Mirtazapine (both antidepressants). I have also tried Citalopram, Fluoxetine, Sertraline, Risperidone, Aripiprazole, Lorazepam and Diazepam. Here I plan to discuss my experience and journey with medication.

When I first went to the doctors, seeking help for my mental health, I was reluctant to try medication as I had heard negative things about it. So my doctor decided to get me to try counselling first but I continued to struggle and it was eventually decided to put me on an antidepressant. The drug of choice was Citalopram. I was started off on a low dose and had it gradually increased over time but, for me, it was not very helpful and didn’t make a dent in my depression. I was also lucky in that I didn’t get any side effects from it. I was on it for quite a while. 

Then I was changed to Sertraline, another antidepressant. Again it was started at a low dose and increased. This time I felt a small benefit from it but I also felt disconnected from the world and like my creativity had gone. So I stopped it without discussing it with a doctor. This is something I would never advise and it ended badly for me with me becoming more unwell until it was restarted. 

Eventually it was decided that Sertraline wasn’t right for me and I was switched to Fluoxetine. This is where I began to run into problems quite quickly. Fluoxetine, for me, was the worst medication. I quickly descended into a crisis and became extremely suicidal. My depression was at it’s worst with me being unable to get out of bed. 

Me medication was quickly changed and I was put on Venlafaxine and Mirtazapine. These two drugs really helped me. Mirtazapine sorted out my sleep and I remain on it. I think this is the one drug I’d be reluctant to stop as sleep is important to keeping me well. 

As for Venlafaxine it was also helpful but was decided I would stop it as the withdrawal from missing a dose was awful and I was always anxious I’d be ill and unable to take it. It took 6 months to come off and I was off it for several years before it , recently, was decided it should be added back in at a low dose. It is helping me slightly again. 

These are all the antidepressants I have tried. I am also on a mood stabiliser and an antipsychotic. The mood stabiliser I am on is Sodium Valproate and its the only one I’ve tried though the dose has been played around with. It is currently working for me and stops, to an extent, the rapid mood swings of BPD. It has weight gain and acne as side effects and these are things I’ve struggled with. But the benefits outweigh these at the moment. 

The first antipsychotic I tried was Risperidone and it worked for me. The voice I hear was reduced. I, however, couldn’t stay on it as a blood test showed it was effecting my kidney function and hormone levels. It was stopped and for a while I was without an antipsychotic.

After a while my symptoms were not improving so it was decided to try a new antipsychotic; this time Aripiprazole. Aripiprazole didn’t help me. It didn’t touch the voice and caused my anxiety to sky rocket. I also felt more like a zombie on it and even my parents noticed I wasn’t with it. 

In the end I decided I needed to come off Aripiprazole and so with a doctors help I did and was put onto Sulpiride instead. This I am currently still on and I am not sure how much it helps me. It has had an effect on my hormone levels but it seems the benefits outweigh this. We shall see how it goes.

I have also tried Lorazepam and Diazepam to help with anxiety and have found them useful in the short term. I have not used them enough to go into detail though. 

So this is my experience of medication. It has been a rocky journey but my current view is that medication can be a useful tool to manage symptoms. It may take a while to find the right one or it may not be right for you but it is a valid option. Noone should feel ashamed of taking medication for their mental health.

Please feel free to share your experiences of medication in the comments. Everyone is unique so I am sure many of you have different experiences.

Picture from Pinterest.