Monthly Archives: January 2018

Distractions

Many of us who suffer with a mental illness find ourselves with intrusive thoughts. These can be thoughts of how we are not good enough, thoughts to self harm, suicidal thoughts or other unpleasant thoughts. They can be hugely distressing and difficult to manage. A big part of dealing with these thoughts is using distractions. These are things we can try to do to take away from the unpleasant thoughts. I have had to use distractions a lot to deal with intrusive thoughts and thought I would share some of my favourites.

1. YouTube – When things are particularly difficult and the thoughts are very loud, I like nothing more than to put my earphones in and watch something on YouTube to distract. It tends to take my mind away from everything I am dealing with. Some of my favourite youtubers to watch are Miss Anxiety, Tom Fletcher and Jim Chapman.

2. Origami (or any arts and crafts) – I am not the most creative person at all but have found origami a good distraction. Having to concentrate on the instructions seems to pull my brain away from the intrusive thoughts. I imagine other arts and crafts activities would have a similar effect too. Plus you will have something to show at the end of it too.

3. Playing with pets – Animals can be a great distraction. Most of the time they are calming (unless they are jumping on you while you try to write a blog post, as is currently happening). I love playing with my two cats and they always make me feel better. As did my guinea pigs when I had them. Animals are highly therapeutic.

4. Pinterest – I have a love for Pinterest and it is one of my first go tos when the thoughts are bad. I love looking up things on there and it soothes my mind. I can look up quotes, scenes from my favourite films or TV shows or just pictures of bookcases (yes it sounds sad but I find it very calming looking at pictures of books). Pinterest is amazing. Check it out.

5. Listening to music – I hear a voice on top of intrusive thoughts and when this gets really bad I distract using music. I normally have it on reasonably loud (please don’t deafen yourself) and choose something I can focus on the lyrics for and what they might mean. I find this way I am really focussing on the music. Podcasts can be useful for this too.

6. Writing – I couldn’t leave this one out. Writing can be a useful tool to distract or to get all your thoughts out of your head. It doesn’t have to be for any particular purpose. You don’t have to share it with the world. I know its not ideal for everyone and there are times when I just can’t write but finding a way to express yourself can be useful.

So those are just a few ways I distract from intrusive thoughts. I would love to hear if you have any other suggestions. Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter.

Picture from Pinterest

Suicide Warning Signs 

Please be trigger aware when reading this piece.

If you read my last blog post, you will know I recently tried to end my own life. This started me thinking about whether I had hidden any signs of what I was to do from others or if there had been warning signs that had been missed. So I looked up warning signs of suicide and was shocked at just how many I had shown. I thought maybe people hadn’t picked up on the signs because they just weren’t aware what to look out for. Therefore I thought I would write a post about the warning signs I showed and others to look out for.

1. Feeling like a burden to others – This is where I feel I showed a major red flag. It was my constant thought and phrase; “I’m a burden”. I even wrote a blog post about it here. I constantly felt like I was too much for those around me. I would (and still do) say things like “I put too much on you” or “I don’t want to burden you anymore”. It was clearly a sign of where my thinking was going.

2. Engaging in risky behaviours – This was more of a warning sign to mental health professionals who knew I was engaging in more risky self harm. I was honest with them about what I was doing and it maybe should of been a sign my mind was not in a good place.

3. A sense of hopelessness or no hope for the future – This was something I expressed a lot to friends and mental health professionals. I felt (and still do to an extent) like things were never going to improve, that everything I was going through was pointless. I could not see myself ever getting better and there was only one way out of this; my death.

4. Frequently talking about death – This leads on from the previous sign, in my case. I would often say things would be better if I was dead or that the only way forward was for me to die. I also had my songs picked out for my funeral.

5. Feeling worthless – This was something else I referred to a lot when talking to others. I felt like I had no worth at all. I would show very little respect for myself, believing that I had little or no worth. I would also, if someone treated me negatively, just accept the bad treatment as I felt it was all I deserved.

6. Social isolation or feeling alone – I have friends but in the weeks running up to the attempt I became a little more distant. I was still in contact with people but not as often or as much. Part of this was because I didn’t feel worthy but also I didn’t want to be a burden or make them aware of my plans.

7. A history of suicidal behaviour – I have a small history of making attempts on my life. This was taken into account by the psychiatrist I saw before my attempt and some provisions were put in place.

These were the main signs I showed but there are other signs that include: feeling trapped, alcohol and drug misuse, giving things away, feeling like you don’t belong, dramatic changes in mood or behaviour, possessing lethal means or aggressiveness and irritability.

If you notice someone is showing the warning signs, and it might not be all of them, then my advice is to talk to them and try to get them some help or support. The Samaritans are available 24 hours a day to give advice. Hopefully we can spread awareness of the signs and help to save a life.

Picture from Pinterest

An Unhappy New Year *Trigger Warning*

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

I’ve been debating whether to write this and I don’t know if I will share this. Here’s the news, and if you follow me on Twitter you will already know, on new year’s eve I tried to end my life. I will not go into details about what I did as that is not important. What is important is I am still here. I have very mixed views about this, which I will talk about bit more.

I had been feeling suicidal for a while and had reached out for help from mental health professionals. In response I got very little support. Now I am not blaming anyone else for what I did. I take full responsibility for my actions but I do wonder if more could of been done to help me. I made several professionals aware that I had plans to end my life and I made them aware of dates that were difficult for me. One professional tried to pass the responsibility on to my parents. This I found unbelievable as I am a twenty eight year old and it shouldn’t be left to my parents. Another passed it off as nothing and said they would phone me in a week (which didn’t happen) and left me with no support on my most difficult day.

This may sound like I am blaming them but I am not. Its the system I am finding fault with. We live in a country where someone can say they are making plans to end their life and nothing is done to prevent it. It makes me scared for other people; that they may ask for help, not get it and actually die. I could of.

But I didn’t die. I am alive and I don’t know how to feel about it. I feel people expect me to be thankful that I am alive, and part of me is, but I am also filled with feelings of being a failure. I couldn’t even end my own life. How useless am I? These are the thoughts that are going through my head. I am still here. Still feeling like a burden to all those around me. In my mind, things were meant to be so different.

No one tells you that your mind will be so scrambled after a suicide attempt. People seem to expect that you will have seen the light. That you will feel lucky to be alive. That they will say how much they would of missed you and that you will believe it right away. But its not that simple. Oh how I wish it was.

I feel guilty. For surviving as well as attempting to end my life. I still feel like I would of been doing everyone a favour. But I hate that I have made them upset which makes me think maybe I do need to try to live. It is very confusing. My mind switches from one to the other repeatedly. I do not know which way to turn. It wasn’t meant to be like this. It was meant to be simple. Instead its a mess.

I don’t know what will happen next. I still have to tell professionals what I did and who knows where that will lead. If you are feeling suicidal please don’t be put off seeking help by what I have written. Reaching out for help is so important. The Samaritans are always there to listen or talk to a health professional. Please know you are not alone.