Category Archives: Uncategorized

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. 

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?