Tag Archives: Social media

Goodbye Time To Change

The mental health campaign Time To Change is closing at the end of March 2021. I’ve been involved with them at different times so this is my goodbye to them.

For those that don’t know, Time To Change is a mental health campaign started in the UK ten years ago. It’s a social movement, meaning it’s work is based on using those with lived experience to talk to others to raise awareness of mental health and mental illness. They have done this in many different ways, from holding events to helping people share their stories with those in power. It has also expanded globally in the last few years.

My first experience with Time To Change was asking them to look at a portrayal in a programme that made people with mental illness seem like attention seekers. They then asked me to write a blog post about this for them. It was one of the first pieces of writing about mental illness I had done. They gave me confidence to start my own blog up, sharing my experiences and thoughts.

In 2015 they sent emails out about a new event, Story Camp, that those with an interest in sharing their experiences about mental illness could sign up to, to learn about how to do it effectively. This included bloggers and media volunteers. I applied and never thought I’d be chosen to take part, but I was. So on 10th September 2015, I headed to London to take part in workshops and listen to others speak. The people I met were amazing. One is now one of my closest friends. Others inspire me greatly. I was too nervous to say hello to my biggest inspiration, Jonny Benjamin, but he was there talking to us all and I snuck a photo. I was in awe.

I carried on writing my blog and using their tips to improve. I signed up as an official Time To Change champion and this led to me becoming part of the local hub being set up in my home town. I did some training again with them, though becoming ill again meant I didn’t take part as much as I’d of liked.

So Time To Change has been at many different parts of me sharing my experiences. And for that I’m grateful. The training offered is high quality and the people I’ve met through them are amazing. I’ll miss having the opportunities they’ve offered and actually feeling valued by an organisation. They’ve validated me and many others.

While we are saying goodbye to Time To Change, we are not saying goodbye to the work they’ve done. It’s definitely made mental health less of a taboo. We still have much work to do with making people understand other mental illnesses as well as they seem to of accepted depression and anxiety. This will continue with those it has trained up and given confidence to.

So thank you Time To Change, and goodbye.

Found my notes from Story Camp 2015

So It’s Been A Year…

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

It’s been roughly a year since the UK went into a restricted state. We’ve been in and out of lockdown. Many things have never been back. Therefore I thought I’d reflect a little on the last year. Some things will be linked to mental health, others more general.

What I’ve Learnt

The whole situation has been a learning curve. I think everyone has learnt something about themselves and others as well as maybe other skills. Here are mine:

1. I need social contact

I’ve always found social contact difficult and overwhelming. I’ve always pushed myself to do things socially and I’m exhausted afterwards. But I’ve found I do need it. I have missed seeing people. Having the hugs. Being with my friends. Just hearing their voices (I struggle still with phone conversations). I can’t wait to meet them.

2. I need alone time

I’ve known this for a while but it has been confirmed with being stuck with the people I live with All! The! Time! I need quiet. I need to get away. It’s tiring being with other people. I think everyone needs alone time really, we all just differ on how much.

3. I can draw

Turns out I can draw. And actually practice does improve it.

4. Phone/video appointments aren’t a substitute for face to face

Obviously a lot of appointments changed to being either online or via phone. I’ve found these so hard. I feel like I can’t get things across as well as I do face to face (and I don’t feel I do that very well anyway). I feel people lose the ability to understand people as well when you take away the physicalness of being in the same room. Also technology has a habit of not working and making it all more stressful. (Although being able to have my cat with me during therapy was a positive).

5. You can’t make eye contact on Zoom

Someone pointed this out to me and its bugged me ever since because its true and no matter what I try I can’t change that. I hate eye contact most of the time but I also try really hard to make some as I know it’s expected. I should be happy therefore that I don’t have to make eye contact but instead it’s annoyed me. Yes, I’m a paradox.

What Scares Me

Along with learning many things, this whole situation has created many fears within me for the present and the future.

1. Fear people will get ill

I’ve always been scared of people in my life getting ill. It’s out of my control although I have gonw through many things that I believe have given me control. Logically it’s not true, mentally I feel to blame when people get sick. This was heightened once we really got into the reduction of social contact and lockdown (before that coronavirus didn’t bother me, odd I know). I was often in tears that something I had or hadn’t done was going to make those close to me ill. I was so strict with cleaning and washing hands, more than usual. I was terrified. I still am.

2. Going outside or into shops

I’ve always found being out and about anxiety inducing, especially on my own. I’m now able to walk the dog just me and him but otherwise I struggle. This has been heightened in these times even though I was forced to shop for my parents on my own. My anxiety was through the roof. Now the thought of going back in to shops without anyone or any restrictions in the future terrifies me.

3. The lack of restrictions

There will come a time when restrictions are gone. Yes it will be a positive in many ways but I don’t feel anywhere near ready for this to happen and I don’t think I will be for some time. Each time a restriction is eased I feel such a state of anxiety that I have panic attacks over it. The thought of things being “normal” is something I can’t comprehend yet.

Where am I at?

So overall I’m struggling mentally with everything. There is a lot of change currently and it’s left me unsettled. Large parts of lockdown have been a struggle but other parts have played into my comfort zones of hiding away from people. I’m very much a home body. People keep talking about holidays and that’s the last thing I want to do. Not going on holiday was a plus for me and now I have no excuse to stay home. I both want things to come back but others I want to stay as they are.

What are your thoughts on your current situation, wherever you are? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Lockdown 3.0

This is not a post I thought I’d write. Actually more hoped I wouldn’t write. The UK is back in lockdown. Our 3rd. I won’t go into the politics of it, that’s been covered a lot.

With each lockdown there has been new challenges to get through. I’ve found my tolerance for other people has deteriorated dramatically. I’ve felt more and more alone each time. And my support system feels more and more depleted each time.

With regards to other people, they make me angry. Anger is an emotion I struggle to cope with so it’s an awful place to be in my head. I want to scream and shout at the selfish people who keep putting us back in this place of lockdown because they can’t do as they’re told. I want to shout at those who get too close not only because they shouldn’t, but also because it scares me. People scare me enough as it is. The pandemic and lockdown just add to this.

Loneliness is another aspect of lockdown that gets to me. I can message people but it still doesn’t feel enough. I live with people but sometimes that makes me feel lonelier as they don’t understand what I’m dealing with inside. I don’t like a lot of physical contact but there are some people I just want to hug. I miss them so much. The thing is I’m also finding myself getting anxious about talking to people. Zoom groups are feeling harder than ever and I feel so detached.

The reduction in support is also feeling more of an issue. My contact with mental health services has been depleted and I’m struggling. I feel like I have nowhere to turn at the moment and more things I use to keep me well ish are disappearing.

So yep lockdown 3.0 is set to be a challenge. I’m trying so hard. I’m looking at skills I can use from DBT to help me get through. I just need to get through it. The thing is I’m a paradox and the thought of “normal” scares me too.

To keep in contact please feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

What I’ve Learnt In 2020

2020 has been a hellish year for pretty much everyone. A global pandemic seems to make life difficult, who knew? But I’ve learnt a few things in 2020 and I thought I’d reflect on them.

1. I have amazing friends

OK, I’ve known this a while but it’s become even clearer this year how amazing they are. We’ve supported each other so much and I’ve known they are always there for me. I love them dearly.

2. Random acts of kindness are special

I’ve tried to do some random acts of kindness this year to cheer people up. I’ve also received some too. They have made me feel so special. They’ve brightened some of the darkest days.

3. Lockdown birthdays suit me

I loved having my birthday during lockdown. The lack of pressure to do anything was awesome. It’s the most relaxed and perfect birthday I’ve had. I want that every year please.

4. Validation is so important

Having someone agree about something I am experiencing has happened a couple of times this year, especially linked to my mental health. I had a psychiatrist who agreed with me about my depression getting worse and a psychologist who could see OCD behaviours and thoughts. The validation made me feel like I wasn’t just looking for the bad but that what I was feeling was real.

5. A smile can make your day

Here I’m not talking about just receiving a smile from someone but actually starting off the smiling. On my walks with my dog I have taken to smiling at the strangers I pass and have mostly been rewarded with smiles back. It brightens my day just a little and creates a little human contact that I can cope with.

6. You can’t make eye contact on zoom

This was something pointed out to me by my DBT peer support group’s facilitator. It is impossible to make eye contact as you are always looking at the wrong bit of the screen. Even if you both stare straight ahead it won’t work as you then can’t see the other person’s eyes. This is information I have imparted to many people since. They’ve all had their minds blown. So thanks Sally for that info.

7. I do actually need physical contact

I’ve never thought of myself as someone who needs physical contact before but hugs from friends are something I’ve really missed. Being in their presence, even, is something I miss greatly. Just to be with those people is so important to me. I also missed hugging my nan for all the months I couldn’t. Having that back is so special. I appreciate those hugs.

8. Pets are amazing

Again I knew this already but this year they’ve really stepped up. My dog has kept me going out and in some kind of routine. My cats are just loving and have entertained a few people on zoom (especially when they scare the life out of me, try to eat the laptop cable or knock a pile of stuff to the floor). Also having cat cuddles during and straight after therapy has been awesome. I now do not want to do therapy without a cat. When it becomes face to face again the cat is coming with me. That would make them look I’m sure.

9. I can draw

I’ve always tried to draw and never felt any good at it. Then just before lockdown I did some art things with a group I’m part of and it started to make me wonder if maybe I could draw. During lockdown I decided I’d try it out and began drawing every day. To begin with I’d draw animals and cartoon characters for friends, family and their children. Most was simple. I then developed it further and I feel like I’m getting a lot better. I’ve even shared some of it on Instagram and Facebook.

10. People are mental health aware but…

This is probably going to be the most negative one. With lockdown there has been a lot of talking about helping people’s mental health during these times. People are showing they are aware of needing to look after their’s and others’ mental health. But it has become clearer that we need to make people mental ILLNESS aware now. People may understand mental health, they don’t all understand mental illnesses and what it’s like to live with one day to day. There is a long way to go with. This means that instead of a mental health awareness week/day we really need a mental illness awareness week/day. We need people to see the difference between mental health and mental illness. I plan to write more on this in 2021.

So 2020 has definitely been a year of learning about others and myself. I’ve deliberately tried to keep the negative out of this list (believe me there are many things I’ve seen this year from people that have shocked me in a bad way). I’d love to hear what you’ve learnt so feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram. I’m aiming to be busier on all these platforms.

Lastly I just want to say a huge thank you to everyone who has read, shared, commented or supported me in any way. I really do appreciate it and wish you the best for the years to come. You’re awesome. Be kind 💚

Why I Hate The Term “Mental Resilliance”

“Mental resilliance” is a phrase that keeps cropping up. But it is a phrase I have come to hate with a passion, especially with the way it is being used. It’s connotations make me uncomfortable and I cannot accept it.

First of all I think we need a definition of the word resilience. I’ve found a definition of it in psychology:
“The ability to adapt well to adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, and even significant sources of stress.” Better Help, 2019

This doesn’t sound too bad. It suggests that we can learn how to get over issues more quickly. However this has led to people taking the phrase and believing that people with a mental illness should be more able to get over a mental illness quicker if they are resilient or even not suffer in the first place. This has been shown by comments made by prominent people in the media.

The problem with these comments is that they imply that if you get ill mentally you are not resilient enough. It gives a sense of failure and that you are not a strong person. This couldn’t be further from the truth. Quite often people with mental illnesses are strong and resilient for too long. They don’t seek help straight away as they feel they should be able to deal with it. This talk of resilience reinforces it.

So what should we be doing?

I’m not saying there is no place for teaching skills to help with mental resilience as it is useful to deal with stressful situations in the short term. However we need to make the narrative clear that mental resilience is not a concrete prevention against mental illness. It is still possible to become unwell even if you are resilient. It does not mean you are weak if you become unwell. Mental illnesses are often caused by things outside our control and for that we need treatment.

Instead, as well as teaching true mental resilience, we need to be saying that it’s OK to talk about our feelings in times of distress. It does not make us a “whiny snowflake”. It is a strong thing to do and will help with our resilience in the future. We need to be helping each other. Just because your younger and suffering does not mean you are less resilient than someone older. All it shows is that I’m the past people couldn’t speak about mental illness and now they can. That is resilience but in a different way.

I think what we need to do is reclaim the term mental resilience and educate people on what it means. We need to take on these people who seek a generational divide about living with a mental illness. We need to change the language we use.

So my question today is what do you think we should be teaching in terms of mental resilience? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Positives From Lockdown

Lockdown has been a hard time for so many people, myself included but I’ve also found some positive things have come from lockdown too. Therefore I thought I’d look at my positives.

1. A lockdown birthday

I had my birthday in June when everything was still pretty much shut and we could barely see anyone. It was one of my favourite birthdays. I went for a picnic and a walk and then went home and did what I wanted. No pressure whatsoever. So I reckon on my birthday we should have a lockdown each year.

Birthday walk and picnic

2. The 2 metre rule

Yep it’s been the bane of so many people but I want to keep this forever. I now have a reason to tell people to get out of my personal space or to move away from them without appearing rude. Long may it continue with people we don’t want to be near.

Picture from Pinterest

3. Wildlife returning

During my walks I have had great pleasure in spotting different wildlife that has returned to our local park. We had a regular heron (named Herbert by me and adopted by others). We also had some Little Egrets. We also got to see the regular geese, ducks and coots have their offspring. I got particularly involved with one pait of coots who had a tragedy when their nest was destroyed. Wildlife is amazing.

Herbert

4. Finding new hobbies

I have taken up drawing again. It’s something I’ve not done in years but I seem to of improved over the lockdown period. I’ve enjoyed extending my range and developed some confidence in this area. I even set up Facebook and Instagram pages for my art. I’ve also managed to do more Lego building, which I love but just could never find the time for. I’ve adapted my routines to incorporate these things.

A drawing of mine

5. Getting things done

I have managed to get so many jobs done. Things I’ve always put off as I’ve been to busy or tired to do them. I’ve enjoyed them too. It’s not just been the mundane daily life jobs but things I wouldn’t normally get to do. I built my mum’s Christmas present from 2018 for her which I’d been meaning to do since she received it.

Making Mum’s Christmas present from 2018

Overall lockdown has been tough for me and many others. It has by no means been a positive experience fully but there are positive bits in there. Sometimes we forget these among all the talk of death and failing businesses. What have been your positives? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Helping Me Through Life In Lockdown

Getting through lockdown has been tough but it has meant I have had to find things to help me through. I thought I’d share some of them with you.

1. My Local Mind

My local Mind has been amazing (Mind BLMK). I’ve had welfare calls at least once a week so that I can discuss any issues. They’ve set up zoom groups of their regular groups. They’ve just been amazing. I’ve always been grateful for them but more so now than ever.

2. Drawing

I’ve got back into drawing and kind of discovered a bit of talent for it. I even started doing them for others as a way to maybe help cheer them up. But it really helped my mental health and got me to focus on something other than what has been happening. I have now set up an Instagram and Facebook page for my art.

One of my drawings

3. Friends

My friends are amazing. They’ve been so supportive. I’ve had cards from them. I had presents for my birthday. We’ve messaged regularly. They’ve given me space when I’ve needed it. I love and miss them lots.

4. Finding Projects To Do

From the start off lockdown I decided to set myself little projects. Most of them were things I’d meant to do since before lockdown, like putting together my mum’s Christmas present from 2018 😳. This kept me a bit saner as it gave me a focus.

5. Lego

Lego has helped me a lot and links in with the making myself projects. I love focusing on making the models. It’s really helped me concentrate on something other than what’s happening.

One Lego creation

6. Avoiding News App

Since the lockdown started I have not gone on the news app on my phone at all. It was getting overwhelming for me so I decided I didn’t need to keep checking it. And it’s been great. I do keep up with what’s going on but in my own way and not an overwhelming one.

7. Social Media/Phone Breaks

I’ve started making sure I have time away from my phone, and social media in particular. Being so connected and everyone being in there all the time was too much for me so I took a step back. I try and have at least an hour in the afternoon without my phone if not more. Its eased my anxiety a lot.

8. Pets

I can’t forget my pets. They’ve been great. Walking the dog has definitely helped and we’ve been spotting wildlife a long the way. The cats have also been great for cuddles and entertainment during zoom calls (Why my cat always chooses the mindfulness exercise to leap on the keyboard I do not know).

Spice: one of my three pets.

So those are some of the things that have helped me most during lockdown. What’s helped you? Feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Kindness At A Higher Level

We live in a society that is often far from kind. I’m not talking about individuals, I’m talking about policy and societal norms. Being individually kind is important but we need kindness as a society to make a larger change.

Unfortunately we live in a world led my money rather than kindness and what is best for people. I can understand this. Money is finite and so we have to spend with care and this can mean cuts that are the opposite of kindness. We see this in mental health services all the time. People are turned away as not sick enough or not enough resources. People are sent miles from home when unwell and needing the kindness of family close by. There are some changes that really need to be made and cutting more and more is doing the opposite of kindness and therefore worsening mental health issues at times.

Also as a society we are far from kind to those who attempt to end their life. Many are labelled attention seeking and selfish. Many a person has been heard on a train that has hit a person berating them for ending their life and delaying people. The kindness that this person needed appears to of been absent in their life and their death. Instead of asking what could of been done to help them before this event they are condemned for seeing no other way out.

Society is also cruel in its use of social media. While social media can be great there are the trolls and the nasties who are far from kind. They band together to bring cruelty to one person. They push people over the edge as they can’t show kindness. They condemn people as guilty before hearing the full story. They forgot that a little kindness could improve the world and keep people alive.

By changing our outlook from the top down we could prevent so many deaths. By acting as a society we could improve life for many. It’s time to unite to be kind as well as individual acts of kindness.

I’d love to hear your views so feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Supporting Others Who Are Isolated

We are in a really rubbish time at the moment. Lots of people are isolated, either on their own or with immediate family. Both situations have their own difficulties. So what can we do to support others who are isolated and may not be able to get out? I’ve put together a few ideas, not just the practical but some to brighten others days.

1. Shopping

This may be obvious but offering to do some shopping and deliver to their doorstep may help them a lot. Obviously keep to the guidelines of social distancing but you may even be able to have a quick chat from a distance.

2. Write them a letter

This is something I’ve done for a few people. I wanted them to know I was thinking of them and how awesome they are. I could of sent a text message but I wanted them to be able to keep it to read to remind themselves in tough times. Also getting post can be really cool. I got a card from a friend and it made my day. I’ve also been making friendship bracelets so I added one into each letter in colours they like. The feedback was lovely. I’ve also used the Touchnote App (not an ad I promise) to send postcards with pictures on to my grandmother. She’s loved them.

3. Give them a phonecall

If you can, phone them. Sometimes it’s nice just to hear a different voice. I’m lucky in that my local mind is doing welfare calls so I get to hear someone else’s voice each week. I’m not the greatest with using the phone but I’ve realised hearing someone else makes me feel a bit better.

4. Just check in

If you can’t phone then that’s fine but maybe just send a message to see how they are. Let them moan if they need to (obviously look after yourself too). A text takes a few seconds to send.

5. Share something for them

Another thing I’ve been doing is doing drawings for different people and then sharing on social media. Not only has it occupied my time, it seems to have brought joy to others. I’ve also done them for my friends’ children to enjoy too. I have had some lovely comments about how it’s lifted people’s mood and that they’ve been waiting each day to see what I’ve drawn. Obviously it doesn’t have to be drawing but sharing something each day for others may lift someone’s mood.



These are just a few ideas. I’m sure you all have many more so feel free to share in the comments or on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram.

Lost In Lockdown

So it seems like the world has been shut down for forever. Everyone is finding it tough. People are losing loved ones or being kept away from them at least. Life is restricted. Unfortunately my mental illness has decided to take advantage of this situation to cause ultimate unpleasantness.

I know this lockdown is not fun for anyone. I’m not pretending that I’m the only one negatively effected. Everyone seems to be in the same boat. But unfortunately that doesn’t help make it easier. In fact it’s making it harder. I feel guilty that I need support. I feel like a burden when I know so many are struggling to deal with this. I hate myself for being able to access support yet still feel on the edge.

The thing is I know I would tell any of my friends who are mentally ill and struggling that it’s OK and mental illness doesn’t make it easier but harder. That it will impact you more as you have to work harder than everyone else to stay well. I’ve even said these words to others. But I can’t apply it to me.

I think also that as things that help keep me more stable have been removed temporarily due to the lockdown this is going to make it harder. I’ve been lucky that my mental health team have given me permission to exercise more than once a day. This is allowed for medical reasons. (For more information click here.) But there are other things I’m missing that I’d not even realised I needed.

Social contact for me has always been exhausting and something I need a break after. I thought I’d be OK without it as I still can contact friends and others through social media or WhatsApp. But it turns out I need to physically see people. I need hugs. I need to be closer to them. I miss them. Yes I may need quiet time after but I still need the contact.

While we can all say lockdown is not our ideal situation I have found some things that are helping keep me a little bit saner (never completely sane, that ship sailed long ago). I’ve rediscovered things I liked doing. I’ve discovered I’m more skilled in them than I thought and that they can help others feel better. Drawing has been a major one for me, with me drawing animals and characters for others and children.

I’ve also found it useful to set myself projects. I’ve put together things I’ve been meaning to do for ages, I’ve built Lego I’d been meaning to make or made friendship bracelets for others. Focusing on this one thing has helped me keep moving and not dropping into deep despair.

The thing is it’s not always helpful. I seem to have a regular Friday night meltdown at the moment. I just disintegrate. My anxiety at times is so high it gives me chronic chest pain. I’ve got an almost constant headache. These are things that I’m struggling to manage. I’ve had a lot of anxiety that I’m going to infect my family. Hair pulling and skin picking have increased along with self harm. Things are not ideal.

Unfortunately there is nothing we can do to make this go quicker but we can help each other. Just checking in is helpful. And we need to ask for support when we need it. Fingers crossed we’ll be able to have some normality soon.

To keep in contact please feel free to use the comments or Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.