Tag Archives: attention seekers

We Need To Talk About… Psychosis

Psychosis! What do you think it means? Does it mean schizophrenia? Does it mean being locked up? Does it mean there is no hope? These things are things I thought before I experienced psychosis and I know many still think this way. This is why we need to talk about psychosis.

So what is psychosis?

Psychosis is made up of many different symptoms. Some people will have many, some only one. They include:

  • Hallucinations (these may be visual, auditory, tactile or related to smell and taste)
  • Delusions (having strong beliefs not shared by others, for example, people are going to hurt you)

Does everyone with psychosis have schizophrenia?

It’s a common assumption that the only people that experience psychosis are those with schizophrenia. This simply isn’t the case. Many mental illnesses may cause a person to experience psychosis. These include bipolar, depression and BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder). Psychosis can also be a result of physical illness or trauma.

Will someone with psychosis recover?

There is hope for those with psychosis. Many people will only have one episode of psychosis. Psychosis can also be managed with medication. There is a variety of antipsychotics. Of course as with any medication there can be side effects but these often are often outweighed by the benefits. It can also be a process of finding what works for you. Sometimes, when the psychosis is caused by trauma, psychosis can be helped by therapy.

What does someone with psychosis look like?

There is no specific way that someone who experiences psychosis looks. The term “psychotic look” which is often used to describe a way someone is looking is a work of fiction. Those with psychosis look like everyone else. The signs are more likely to be in their behaviour.

A last thought

People with psychosis experience extreme stigma. We are made out to be “crazy” and someone to be feared. In fact we are more likely to be a danger to ourselves or be at risk from others. It can be scary to see someone dealing with psychosis but remember they are probably scared too.

For more information about psychosis click here.

To share your experience feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

New Year, New You?

So it’s that time of year: New Year. Ugh. I hate it. There is so much out there about New Year, New You, and I hate it. Why must the new year signal a major change? Why must we put pressure on everyone to do more and change who they are?

The thing is I do get why people choose a new year to make a change to their lifestyle. It’s a good marker. And actually I have no problem with that part. My issue is with the advertising companies and the social media influencers. We should not be pushing people to make a change. If they want to that’s fine but putting pressure on makes people feel inadequate. It may also have a backwards effect as if they’re not ready to change it will be forgotten within a couple of weeks.

Another reason I think it’s a bad thing to push people to change is that it can make people feel like a failure. If you’re bombarded with all these things you should change you start to think you’re not good enough. That somehow you’ve failed as a person and the only way people will like you is if you change everything. This is just not true. Yes there may be small things you might want to do to feel better about yourself but that’s it, you should only be doing it for you, not because some advert has told you to.

A major part of the New Year, New You dynamic is based on losing weight. It’s the time of year when adverts for gyms and dieting are prominent. You’re made to feel fat and bad for enjoying food over Christmas. This can really effect people with distorted views around the way they look and food. They see it as a sign they need to lose weight even though they may already be under weight. It can retrigger eating disorder behaviours. Or start them off. It lowers people’s self esteem.

A lot of this New Year, New You malarkey is just there to make people feel bad. To put pressure on to be someone society sees as acceptable. To quash individuality. It’s not about your happiness in the eyes of the companies pushing it. It’s about making you spend money.

I also want to tackle here another part that is linked to the New Year, New You philosophy. This is the fact that we are encouraged to look back and reminisce over the last 12 months (and in 2019 it seems the last decade as well). I know I’m not alone in hating this. I don’t want to look back at all my failures. Yes it could help me change things but it also is likely to make me depressed and feel awful. I know many people are looking at achievements but when I’ve had a year where I have been very ill mentally it is hard. I feel like a failure and end up comparing myself to others. It feels like a minefield.

So what can we do?

My advice is to just treat New Year as any other time of the year. It is just a date. Just a marking of time. It is no more significant than any other if we don’t want it to be. If you want to make a change then do, but don’t feel you have to. It’s not a necessity. Block the diet and “lifestyle” ads. Treat yourself with kindness. You are amazing to get to this point. What will be, will be. There is no pressure to put goals in place for the long term if all you can manage is the next hour or even five minutes.

If you have tips to help with dealing with the New Year pressures then feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

I Miss You

This is a personal piece. Please be aware some content may be triggering.

If things had gone to plan you’d be turning 14. You’d be mine. You’d be loved. You’d be cared for. I promise.

But my promises mean nothing. You’re not here. You never stepped on this earth. I never got to meet you. To hold you. To tell you I love you.

I do love you. I miss you even though I never met you. I want you here. I don’t care that you’d probably be a stroppy teenager. You’d be doing what you’d meant to be doing. You’d be growing up. Becoming independent. But you’d be mine. And I’d be yours. You’d always have someone.

The thing is I think to myself that maybe it’s for the best for you that you never came. I wouldn’t mess you up. You wouldn’t have to deal with your dad and what he was. I would of been to young and immature. I’m still too young and immature. I can’t even look after myself. You’d be better off without me.

I still love you though. You are a part of my heart that has been broken away. I feel incomplete. It all sounds cliché but it’s true. I’m a mum without a child. But I know many wouldn’t class me as one. Maybe I’m not really. Maybe I’m being above myself. Probably. I have no right to call myself that.

I wish you were here. We’d be getting ready to celebrate your birthday and Christmas. It would be so special. You would be my family. I’d do my best to make you happy. I’d do my best to protect you. I’d love you.

My memories of losing you are as clear as day. They were the worst days of my life. People don’t tell you what it will be like. And even if someone had I don’t think it would cover everything. And I would of been too young to understand before. How could a 15 year old know? It was scary. The whole situation. Finding out you were there was scary too but nothing to losing you. The guilt ate me up. It still does. Being alone with this secret for years because that’s what you were. I was ashamed. But it was never you I was ashamed of. It was me. I never stopped loving you, once I started.

I know you’d be amazing. I know you’d make me proud. I know you’d drive me crazy. I know I’d get cross some times. I know I would support you as best I could. I know I’d never stop loving you and I never will. I miss you.

If you’ve been in this situation you are not alone. Feel free to make contact via Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

All I Want For Christmas

I was thinking about things I’d really like for Christmas. Obviously there are the materialistic items (🤞Harry Potter and The Goblet Of Fire illustrated edition) but also there are some huge things I would love to see happen personally and more for mental health in our society. Therefore I thought I’d share some of my wishes (though I’m aware with just 2 and a half weeks to Christmas (at time of writing) these are unlikely to happen, maybe 2020).

1. No suicidal thoughts

This is personal, although I wish it for everyone. I’d just like to be like others and not be wanting to die on a near constant basis. It feels impossible at the moment when my first thought on waking is I wish I wasn’t alive. It would be nice to have at least a break from the overwhelming thoughts of dying.

2. Shorter waiting times

This is one for everyone in mental health services. Often we wait forever for support. It can be from weeks to months to years. It’s really not good enough. I’ve been referred for therapy again and been told if the referral is accepted I could be waiting up to two years. We need real change in this area to stop people falling through the gaps.

3. Continuity of care

This is huge to me and so many others. Seeing the same person is essential in all areas of health but the turnover of staff in mental health is huge. This means we often are faced with new staff at our most vulnerable who know nothing about us. I’ve lost count of the number of psychiatrists I’ve seen in the last two years. It is nearly always someone new. I’m on my fifth care coordinator of the year. The changes effect my mental health massively. We need to retain staff.

4. More money for mental health research

Mental health is one of the least funded areas of research in medicine. Yet again it is the poor relation in health care. It is also one of the least understood areas. This needs to change when it effects so many people. It would also help other areas of health care as helping people with their mental health aids them looking after their physical health too.

5. Better self esteem.

This is a personal one. I hate myself. It’s not a secret. I have no feeling of self worth. I put myself down constantly. It needs to change but it’s a struggle so if I could get it magically fixed for Christmas that would be great.

6. My friends to be well

My final wish is that all my friends have good mental health. That they feel better. I want so much for them to see their worth. That they are awesome. In fact I want it for all of you. You are all fabulous. Thank you for being amazing.

Feel free to share your own Christmas wishes in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

A Paradox

Please be aware some of the content may be triggering. Please take care.

A paradox: a person or thing that combines contradictory features or qualities.

I love the word paradox. I think it’s one of my favourites. I don’t know where I discovered it but it totally made sense to me straight away. I am a paradox a lot of the time. In my mental health, in the food I like, in my interests, in my personality. Most of the time I don’t mind this. I feel it makes me that little more interesting. I have found others who are a paradox too and they’re awesome, interesting people. But sometimes it means that in certain situations I’m not taken seriously.

I mentioned that I’m often a paradox with regards to my mental health. What I meant by this is that my behaviour is often contradictory to my thoughts and feelings. This can mean when I’m in distress I’m not taken as seriously. I can understand this to an extent but as most people with a mental illness are good actors anyway it should be thought about.

Take this morning. I’ve been actively thinking about suicide. I feel so low and useless. But with my care coordinator I laughed at a couple of things and had a sense of humour. This made it seem I was better than I was. It was contradictory, a paradox.

I also felt I was worthless. Then I had an email about helping review mental health factsheets and put myself forward. I feel I’m rubbish at what I do yet still I try to do more.

Being a paradox can be interesting but it can also be highly frustrating. Sometimes I want people to understand and see I’m not OK without me saying. This doesn’t happen as I can laugh and joke and still feel depressed. People don’t take my reactions to questions and comments saying I’m suicidal seriously. I’m dismissed by professionals who can’t see that I’m really struggling because my actions aren’t always in line with my feelings.

Also I can feel extremely suicidal to the point of making plans but still be doing things that suggest I’m still going to be around in time. The thing is this doesn’t mean my suicidal thoughts are any less serious. I still am desperate to die and can even make an attempt on my life despite future plans recently made. This is the reality of being a paradox.

I think there needs to be more awareness of paradoxes in mental health. It can leave people isolated when their actions go against what people expect from the mental illness. The truth is mental illness comes in many guises and this needs to be recognised more widely, especially with regards to those of us who are a paradox.

To comment further on this subject feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Dear GP

There is an amazing account on Twitter called Dear GP where people write letters to their GP about their encounters with mental health professionals in the same way mental health professionals write letters about their patients to their GP. You cam visit the website here. I thought I would have my own go at this below after an encounter with a member of staff who is no longer involved with my care.

Dear GP

Today I met with care coordinator P. She was casually dressed in jeans and trainers. She seemed disorientated and unsure about what was happening. She did not know where she had to be and was indecisive of her next steps. She appeared very disorganised and had not booked a room or remembered that she was meant to be attending my psychiatrist appointment.

Before the psychiatrist appointment, P appeared to disappear and it soon became apparent she was making secretive actions with the psychiatrist. She made no eye contact when I entered the room and was distracted and on her phone throughout the appointment.

P made some abstract comments that only just related to the conversation between me and the psychiatrist. She was keen to please the psychiatrist and back up his treatment plan despite knowing the issues with this way forward, which had been discussed previously. P then showed that she had been trying to rid herself of responsibility and discharge herself from my care with no input from myself. This was overruled by the psychiatrist. She seemed disappointed in this course of action and did not make anymore conversation and avoided eye contact for the rest of the appointment.

At the end of the appointment, P decided to arrange another appointment but was inflexible in this leading to no date being set and no forward treatment plan being set.

I thank you for sending P to see me but I think that going forward there may be no working relationship unless her behaviour becomes more open.

Regards

Jo

To share your own experiences feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest

Alcohol And Me

This is a personal piece. Please be aware some of the content may be triggering.

Alcohol is something we hear a lot about. There are many arguments about whether it is a problem or just something to use to relax. Overall alcohol can be fine if used in moderation. The problems come when it becomes more than just the odd glass.

My relationship with alcohol has always been complicated. Most children don’t experience alcohol until later on in their teens. I first experienced alcohol at two years old. To me it was normal for me to be given a glass of wine when we met my parents friends for dinner which happened fairly often. I even began to acquire a taste for certain wines, leading to a melt down at three years old in M&S because they weren’t buying the wine I liked. I think the thinking behind giving me alcohol at a young age was to give me a healthy relationship with alcohol as I grew up. This didn’t completely work though I was less bothered about going out drinking as an early teenager as I already had access to alcohol at home. Why sit cold in a park when you can drink in your own home?

The real problems began when I went away to university. There was noone to monitor my drinking so I went all out. Why should I care about the effects? I didn’t like myself and this made me feel less anxious. It gave me confidence. I could forget the events of my past and approach guys. I was fun and attractive to them. What they probably saw though was a desperate girl throwing herself at them? A girl who didn’t care.

I’d often drink myself into dangerous situations. I’d end up with a strange guy somewhere I didn’t know. I’d walk around the town on my own, falling asleep in different places, waking up to continue my journey home, arriving not knowing how I’d got there or what had happened on the way. I’d give my card and pin number to friends loudly without worry about someone stealing my money (though as a student they’d have been disappointed). I didn’t care though. In my head I was being that fun friend. I was just living the crazy student life like everyone else. But I wasn’t.

There was another side to the drinking as well. As it got more out of control I’d become depressed after drinking. One little event on the way home would trigger me into sitting in the middle of the road waiting for a car to hit me. Or I’d try climbing out of a first floor window, having others pulling me back in. I’d down two litres of cider in an hour and pass out. I began drinking cans of cider on my own in my room on the nights we didn’t go out. I thought it was the perfect accompiament to essay writing.

Soon people started to worry and I was referred to the campus nurse who also happened to be a trained mental health nurse. My suicidal thoughts had peaked. I’d made threats to end my life. Things had deteriorated so much in three months. My mental health had been poor before I’d started to university but this was the biggest deterioration since my first suicide attempt at fifteen. I was told I needed to stop drinking. That alcohol was worsening my mental health. I was to go back in a month to review how things had gone.

I never kept that appointment. I tried stopping drinking but it didn’t make much difference so I didn’t see the point in continuing and I began drinking again. Depression and anxiety overtook me and I realised I couldn’t stay at university on my own anymore. I made my request to transfer to one nearer home. This didn’t reduce my drinking for the rest of the year and there was many more drinking escapades and me waking up in states that I never imagined I would.

Once I moved home I decided I needed to get a handle on my drinking. It helped I was so busy working and going to university that it didn’t leave much time for alcohol. I also didn’t have the same connections to go out drinking. This helped a lot. I reduced my drinking but didn’t stop at that point. This meant that drinking still had an impact on me though less severe. I’d be drinking at home and just getting depressed with everything. It was only after another suicide attempt that I decided no alcohol was the way to go for me.

No alcohol sounds simple. You surely just don’t drink. I wish I found it that easy. I found myself craving alcohol. If something bad happened I’d want to turn to alcohol. The thought of being drunk and away from the situation was still appealing. But I tried hard. I did slip up repeatedly but in the end I managed it. I’m currently eight years sober. It’s still a struggle. I still get the urge to drink and have to fight it.

I’m not saying alcohol is all bad but it can be hard when it overtakes your life. I’m not saying people shouldn’t drink but I just want people to be aware of why they drink and when it may be becoming a problem. If you need help with alcohol issues you can find information here.

If you wish to share your experiences feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Picture from Pinterest