Monthly Archives: October 2018

An Update

This is a personal piece so please be aware that the content may be triggering.

Recently I have been missing in action because things have been tough. I have been in the midst of a depressive episode. It’s a place I’ve been so many times before yet still it hits me with the force of Thor’s hammer. I am at a loss and unable to motivate myself. Basic things take the biggest effort. I just want to sleep my life away.

I’ve been rocked by suicidal thoughts and have had the suggestion of crisis team involvement mentioned a few times. In the end it is decided they are no use to me and will probably not be able to help me. This makes things worse for me as I feel like noone can help me. I’m a hopeless case. Beyond help. Don’t get me wrong people are trying to help me. My care coordinator is seeing me weekly and has organised a sooner psychiatrist appointment for 6th November. I’m lucky I know but feel far from it.

My main coping mechanism at the moment is mainly through self harm. It is giving me a sense of control and making the voice I hear quieter. I know I should be using other ways of coping but it’s my old faithful and its hard not to go back to it time and time again. I have been trying to use the skills from my therapy but I’m finding that hard too. I feel like a failure.

So anyway that’s a quick update on where I am at the moment and why there is no new blog posts at the moment. I need to take a break. Hopefully it will be short and I’ll be back soon. To keep up to date you can comment or follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

World Mental Health Day 2018

Today, 10th October, is World Mental Health Day and this year the theme is young people and mental health in a changing world. Therefore I thought I would write about mental health education and why I believe it is so important in today’s world. 

Currently in the UK there is no legal requirement to teach about mental health in schools. This seems ridiculous when we are encountering a record number of children experiencing difficulties with their mental health. Mental health is such an important topic and something people tend to any away from. We seem to forget that we all have mental health, be it good or ill, much like we all have physical health. There are of course ways we can help our mental health, such as self care, but how are we meant to know this if noone teaches us. This is why mental health education in schools is vital. Prevention is key.

Of course prevention is not always possible. Sometimes we will get mentally ill despite our best efforts but mental health education is key here too. If as a young person we know the signs that something is wrong we may feel able to access help sooner. It is known that early intervention can be key in treating mental illness and can lead to a higher recovery rate so it seems only logical to educate young people on the signs. I know that as a young person I was confused by what was happening to me and felt alone so didn’t confide my problems for a long time. This made everything much harder.

Another reason education surrounding mental health and mental illness is key to help reduce stigma. A lot of stigma comes from lack of understanding and fear. By educating young people we create a generation that is not afraid to talk about mental illness nor scared to seek help in the face of it. We empower our young people to fight stigma and stand up for those facing problems with their mental health.

Of course there are barriers in the way to mental health education. As a former teacher I know how rammed the school curriculum already is but I believe mental health education can be worked in. We make time for physical health so why can we not make time for mental health. Obviously mental health education alone will not solve the entire problem of the rise in young people with mental health problems but it is a start. We of course need more funding for children and adolescent mental health services too, to keep up with the young people that are asking for help. Hopefully we can make a difference if we keep calling for change.

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Therapy Journey: Weeks 1 & 2

This is the next blog post in my therapy journey series. For the rest of the posts in this series click here.

Week 1

I actually missed the first week of my DBT skills group as I had a hospital appointment but I got all the handouts from the first session. This means I know roughly what happened.

The session began with getting to know each other. I’m pretty sure this was just going round saying your name. This was followed by going through the rules for the group. These rules are to keep the group safe and ensure confidentiality. This was followed by going through the goals for skills group and the behaviours to be decreased and increased. This was linked into how they relate to each of the modules of the DBT group.

Then they looked at.how different characteristics of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD) are helped by some of the different modules. In particular impulsiveness which can be helped by the distress tolerance module and confusion about self which can be helped by the core mindfulness module were mentioned. After this there was more information on the format of the sessions, the materials that would be handed out and how to fill in the DBT skills diary card. Then there would of been a short break as each session is two hours long.

After the break the group moved on to the first of the core mindfulness sessions of this module. This is what will be repeated at the start of the three modules of the DBT skills group. This started off by looking at what mindfulness is including the history behind mindfulness, why mindfulness is important and the goals of mindfulness. The goals of mindfulness here are to reduce suffering, increase happiness, increase control of your mind and experience reality as it is. 

They then moved on to look at the different states of mind and what each of them are. There are three states of mind mentioned; reasonable mind, emotional mind and wise mind (see image below). The focus though is on the wise mind state and recognising what it is, and in particular this definition that it is “the ability to make healthy decisions about your life based on both your rational thoughts and emotions.” This was followed by an exercise to practice entering wise mind, using mindful breathing. And that brought this session to an end.

Week 2

This was my first week and I was incredibly nervous, especially as I had missed the first week and because of the group environment. The session started with a recap of the previous week and seeing how people had got on with practicing the skills between sessions. This have me a chance to gain some insight into what happened the week before.

We then moved on to the new skills for this week which were core mindfulness skills again, which will be repeated at the start of each module. We started off by looking at the two different type of mindfulness skills; ‘what’ skills and ‘how’ skills. ‘What’ skills help us to be more mindful of what we are.experiencing, while ‘how’ skills help us to learn how to be both mindful and non-judgemental. 

We then looked at each of the ‘what’ skills in turn. The first one was ‘observe’ where you try and stay present to the moment without labelling or describing it. We did an exercise to practice this skill. I found this tough. We then moved on to ‘describe’ where you use words or labels to represent what you observe. We then practiced this by looking at a leaf and describing it. This felt more natural. The final ‘what’ skill is ‘participate’ where you enter wholly into an activity. We practiced this by playing a game. I found this tough as I was extremely self conscious but I wasn’t the only one. 

After a break we moved on to the ‘how’ skills. We started off with ‘non-judgmentalness’ where you aim to let go of judgements and focus on facts. We then did a couple of activities to practice this skill which is harder than you realise. The second ‘how’ skill is ‘in the moment’ where you aim to be completely in the moment, doing one thing at a time. The final skill is ‘being effective’. This is about focussing on what works and what is needed. We were then given instructions on how to be effective but it is a skill that confuses me. This brought the session to an end.

Overall I felt incredibly overwhelmed at the start of this group therapy. There was a lot of information to take in plus the anxiety of the environment. Hopefully with time it will get easier. If you are starting therapy my advice is to talk when you’re struggling and stick with it if you can. 

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