Monthly Archives: October 2017

Book Review: The Goldfish Boy

Overview

“The Goldfish Boy” by Lisa Thompson is about a boy called Matthew who has OCD. Matthew finds himself caught up in trying to solve the mystery disappearance of his neighbour’s grandson, Teddy. As Matthew spends a lot of his time recording what his neighbours do, he is ideally placed to work out what has happened to Teddy. But Matthew is fighting his own battles in his head. This book looks at what thoughts Matthew has and how they can hold him back. Will they stop him solving the mystery of little Teddy?

My thoughts

I really enjoyed this book and found it really easy to get into. The story was interesting and moved at a good pace. It kept me wanting to read to find out not only what happened to Teddy but what happened to Matthew too. Although Matthew has OCD relating to contamination and germs, it was made clear that OCD wasn’t just about the actions but the intrusive thoughts Matthew had as well. It looked at how Matthew’s thoughts impacted on his behaviour and led to compulsions as well as the root cause for it all.

The book looked at the treatment for OCD as well. This was good I thought as it showed how difficult it is to face a stranger and discuss what is going on in your mind when you are unwell. It showed that opening up takes time and there are many battles in treatment to overcome; it is not a magic cure.

Another thing I liked about the book was that it looked at the impact having a mental illness, such as OCD, has on the family around you. It showed how Matthew’s mum was desperate to do anything to help her son but did not know what to do do for the best, which is often the case. It also showed how difficult it can be to understand the mental illness from the other side, as Matthew’s dad struggled to cope with it. As well as this it showed the impact on his parents’ relationship and how that suffered because of Matthew’s OCD. This was very realistic to life as mental illness has such an impact on others.

This book was really good and really realistic about what having mental illness can be like. I would recommend it to anyone even though it is written as a children’s book. I think its very relatable and will reread it in the future.

If you have read this book let me know in the comments or on Twitter what your thoughts were.

Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

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Things I say vs. What I really mean

This is a personal piece. Please be trigger aware when reading.

There are many things I say to people that actually hide my true feelings. I might say things so others don’t get upset or so that I don’t feel a burden to those around me. I decided I would share some of the things I say a lot that actually hide my true feelings, and what I really mean. I am sure I am not alone in this.

1. “I’m fine”- How many of you when asked how you are come out with these two words? I bet the answer is a lot. And I am just as bad at using this phrase even when things are far from fine. “I’m fine” covers a multitude of feelings from being suicidal to being anxious. When I say I am fine, I am normally very far from being fine but want to hide it from those around me. In fact my GP stopped asking how I am as this would always be my answer and it his what was really going on for me. I use it because I don’t want to burden those around me with my problems or for them to think I am always down. I have got better at being more open about my feelings but with certain people I still use it a lot.

2. “I’m tired”- This is very much my go to answer when people can see things aren’t right with me. I always blame it on tiredness, which to be honest isn’t a total lie as I usually am tired but there is also a lot else going on. I think people see it as more socially acceptable to say “I’m tired” than to say “I’m depressed” and this shouldn’t be the case. We should be able to express how we’re really feeling without fearing judgement.

3. “I’ve been up and down”- I use this phrase a lot when I have been low for a while to imply that I am not constantly down. This is normally quite far from the truth and I am in a pit of depression that I can’t see a way out from. I say it though to give others, and myself, hope that I won’t always be in this dark hole. A lot of people will grab on to the “ups” though, which I think is natural, but it can make things harder for me. I then feel I need to pretend to be OK when I really am not.

4. “No worries”- Another phrase I use a lot, normally after people have apologised to me for something, for example not being in touch. I do it to make other people feel better and like it doesn’t really matter, but often I am hurting inside. I say it however because I don’t know if I should be hurting as much as I do and so want to come across as laid back about it. Sometimes this is dangerous as it makes it look like I don’t care when the opposite is true.

So those are a few examples of what I say versus what I really mean. I have got better at not hiding behind those phrases but it can still be difficult. Do you have any phrases you say when you mean something different? Please share in the comments or on Twitter.

Picture from Pinterest

I Hate Myself 

This is a personal piece. Please be trigger aware when reading. This is something I wrote a few days ago and thought I would share as a true reflection of my thought patterns. I am safe. I currently have support in place to help me.

I hate myself. Three words that sum up how I currently feel about everything. Hate is a strong word but I mean it. I can see nothing to like, let alone love, about me. In my head these words dominate my thinking. I loathe even the smallest thing and chastise myself for every little thing I say or do.

So why do I hate myself? I could list endless reasons. I feel like I am such a bad person. I see little things I have done wrong as massive errors and flaws in my character. I analyse each thing I say and go back over how others may have taken it. I see nothing but a burden and a mess of a human.

Hating myself is exhausting. I am constantly on my case. Saying I am not good enough as a person; that I fall short at even the basics. Its a never ending stream of insults flowing through my brain. I’m vile, evil, nasty, a failure. Nothing I do will ever be good enough.

Negative thoughts take over my brain. I am self harming; not only as a respite and for control, but because I feel I deserve to be punished. I hate myself that much that physically hurting myself consumes my mind. Mentally I am drained, physically I am hurting.

I talk to friends (who I am amazed still stick around me) and they list off my good qualities. They tell me I am loved and special. I am lucky to have them, yet I can not believe what they say when it contradicts so much with what my mind is telling me. I just can not see any good in the person that is me.

I try and carry on with self care but it is difficult. Why should I look after myself? It feels alien. I put on a front to my family as I don’t want them to see the mess I have become. It is difficult. To accept love when you don’t even like yourself feels wrong. You question how much you deserve this. You loathe yourself further for needing love and reassurance.

The hate for myself makes me question if I should even be alive. Suicidal thoughts flood my brain and I curse myself for not being able to take my life. I wonder if I will ever feel better or if this is how I will feel forever more. People say it will change. People say that I will get better and this is a symptom of my illness. This is depression. I dont really hate myself; depression just makes me think I do.

If you are struggling there is help out there. You can contact the Samaritans any time.

Picture from Pinterest

World Mental Health Day 2017

Today, October 10th, marks World Mental Health Day and the theme for this year is work and mental health. As I am currently unable to work due to my mental health, I decided I would think about what things I would like from an employer to help me manage work and my mental health.

1. Time for appointments – I have been lucky in the past that my employers have made time available for me to attend appointments, be it a doctor’s appointment or weekly therapy. I know some people aren’t so lucky. Being allowed the the time to attend these appointments is vital to improving well being and keeping yourself well so that you are able to function and continue to work. Hopefully an employer will understand this and therefore be flexible with working hours to accommodate appointments.

2. Be approachable – If an employer is not approachable it is going to make the whole job of looking after your mental health more difficult. However if they are good at listening and therefore you feel you can talk to them when things are difficult it will make the task of managing your mental health easier. It also means it will be easier to ask for things, like time off for appointments, without the worry of how they are going to react.

3. Confidentiality – This is a big one and links to being approachable. It is important to know that what you discuss is not going to be shared with anyone who does not need to know about it. It is your choice, to an extent, which colleagues you wish to know about your mental health problems. Trust is important to making you feel secure. Obviously there will be some people they will need to tell in order to allow you time off. But it is important to know it won’t become part of gossip.

4. Understanding – I would love for my employer to have understanding of mental health and mental illness, and how it doesn’t mean I am incapable but that sometimes I might need extra support. I have faced stigma when attending a job interview, where I was told I was unsuitable as I wouldn’t cope due to having depression. This is wrong. I was not even given a chance to show my capabilities in the interview but was instead judged on my mental illness. This is unfair and shows a lack of understanding about mental health and mental illness.

So those are a few of thee things I would like an employer to be when dealing with me and my mental illnesses. What other things would you like from an employer? Please feel free to share in the comments.

Pillshaming 

I am tired of reading what adds up to pillshaming, related to mental health. Therefore I thought I would write in response to some of the things I have seen as, to me, pillshaming is just not OK.

Some of you may be wondering what pillshaming is. It might be a term you’ve never heard. Pillshaming is a term that has been coined to cover negative comments and articles related to taking medication, in particular psychiatric medication, which could then lead to people feeling ashasmed about having to take medication for their illness.

I have recently read something that made me feel guilty for relying on my medication. It implied that those who take medication for a mental illness, in particular depression, didn’t feel the pain as much as those who managed their illness without, and therefore didn’t learn to cope as well. This is of course rubbish. Everyone who suffers with a mental illness deals with pain, and even if the pain level is different, mental illness is not a competition.

But why did this matter so much to me if I knew it was rubbish? Because I could see the dangers. Pillshaming is dangerous because it can make people feel rubbish for taking something that is helping them. It made me feel rubbish and less of a person which is just wrong. Its wrong because if I stopped taking my medication it could lead to a deterioration in my mental health. Luckily at the time I knew this would be the case but if someone is vulnerable they may decide to stop their medication straight away. This could have terrible consequences including making the person more ill or causing them to be a danger to themselves or others.

Now please don’t get me wrong, I know medication is not the answer for everyone. I am not saying everyone should be on medication for their mental illness. What I am saying though is that those of us that do require the help of medication should not be made to feel less of a person for going down this route. Everyone is different. Everyone will react differently and find different things helpful. No one should be made to feel ashamed of the choice they masks in their own treatment.

So there you have my view on pillshaming. You may not agree with what I have said but I do hope you understand that everyone should have a choice and not feel ashamed about it.

Picture from Pinterest Make Daisy Chains

#365daysofselfcare

If you follow me on twitter you may know that I have been taking part in something called #365daysofselfcare set up by The Blurt Foundation. The idea is to do some form of self care every day. Today marks day 365 of the challenge for me, so I thought I would reflect back on it.

Self care is something I have always struggled with. I struggle with the idea that I am worth anything and therefore I don’t always feel I deserve to look after myself. However through this challenge I have learnt that self care is incredibly important for my mental health.

Self care makes a real difference to mental health. I was sceptical when I started the challenge. I didn’t see how doing little things could make a difference to my well being. I was wrong though. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying this is a magic cure and that you will feel brilliant all the time. By doing something for myself each day I felt I was achieving something which made me feel a little better about myself as well as showing myself some self respect.

So what kind of things did I do as part of the #365daysofselfcare challenge? My self care took on many forms and ranged from small things such as a nap to bigger things like a day out at a scarecrow festival. Other things I did included haircuts, clean bed sheets, eating 3 meals, drinking plenty, talking to people, playing with my pets, relaxing in my hammock and enjoying time outside.

What next? So now I’ve come to the end of the challenge I’ve been debating what to do next. I have decided that I am going to carry on with trying to do a bit of self care every day. I’m also going to still share it on twitter as I feel that recording it means I make sure I try to do something each day (I’m by no means always successful as is shown by the fact that to achieve 365 days has taken me over a year).

I would also like to say thank you to The Blurt Foundation for coming up with this challenge. It has really helped me and I would encourage everyone to give it a go. Remember you are worth looking after and deserve to respect yourself. You are worthy. Here’s to the next #365daysofselfcare.

Picture from Pinterest by introvert doodles.