anxiety · depression · help · men · mental health · news · reading · stigma · suicide · support

Facts on Men & Mental Health

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When you hear the statement ‘He’s a real man!’ what is it you picture?
A man who is not only strong of body but also of mind? Someone who is emotionally tough and who doesn’t show any weakness? The provider etc… a lot to live up to eh?

This man simply does not exist and as much as a woman should not be defined by such small and limiting terms a man should not also.

A man is just like a woman and by that I mean human.

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Mental Health facts in Men

  • Just over three out of four suicides (76%) are by men and suicide is the biggest cause of death for men under 35
  • 5% of men in the UK are suffering from one of the common mental health disorders
  • Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women
  • Men are more likely to use (and die from) illegal drugs
  • Men are less likely to access psychological therapies than women. Only 36% of referrals to psychological therapies are men.

What this says to me is not only are men less likely to know that they might have a mental health condition but they feel less comfortable coming forward to speak about it or seek support for their struggles.

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Here are some more facts….

  • Over three quarters of people who kill themselves are men
  • Men report significantly lower life satisfaction than women in the Government’s national well-being survey – with those aged 45 to 59 reporting the lowest levels of life satisfaction
  • 73% of adults who ‘go missing’ are men
  • 87% of rough sleepers are men
  • Men are nearly three times more likely than women to become alcohol dependent (8.7% of men are alcohol dependent compared to 3.3% of women)
  • Men are three times as likely to report frequent drug use than women (4.2% and 1.4% respectively) and more than two thirds of drug-related deaths occur in men
  • Men are nearly 50% more likely than women to be detained and treated compulsorily as psychiatric inpatients
  • Men make up 95% of the prison population, 72% of male prisoners suffer from two or more mental disorders
  • Men have measurably lower access to the social support of friends, relatives and community
  • Men commit 86% of violent crime (and are twice as likely to be victims of violent crime)
  • Boys are around three times more likely to receive a permanent or fixed period exclusion than girls
  • Boys are performing less well than girls at all levels of education. In 2013 only 55.6% of boys achieved 5 or more grade A*-C GCSEs including English and mathematics, compared to 65.7% of girls

This shows us that we need to educate others on mental health more and stop the stigma which might be stopping men from coming forwards and getting help a survey from the Samaritan’s found this out…

Personality traits – some traits can interact with factors such as deprivation, unemployment, social disconnection and triggering events, such as relationship breakdown or job loss, to increase the risk of suicide. 

Masculinity – more than women, men respond to stress by taking risks, like misusing alcohol and drugs.

Relationship breakdowns – marriage breakdown is more likely to lead men, rather than women, to suicide.

Challenges of mid-life – people currently in mid-life are experiencing more mental health problems and unhappiness compared to younger and older people.  

Emotional illiteracy – men are much less likely than women to have a positive view of counselling or therapy, and when they do use these services, it is at the point of crisis.

Socio-economic factors – unemployed people are 2-3 times more likely to die by suicide than those in work and suicide increases during economic recession.

I encourage everyone to listen to the men in their lives be it their husbands, fathers, boyfriends, friends, brothers or cousins. To be a listening ear without judgement, so men can start to ignore the lies of stigma and realise that true strength is asking for help and support to fight a battle you can’t even see!
One you shouldn’t have to fight alone, one where you’re fighting for yourself as you are worth this fight so let others help fight it with you.

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ADD · adhd · anxiety · depression · help · men · mental health · reading · stigma

What is ADHD?

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So I have ADHD… it’s new and confusing but its official I have it, but what is it exactly?

Overview
Here is a quick overview of ADHD…
ADHD stands for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, a condition with symptoms such as inattentiveness, impulsivity, and hyperactivity. The symptoms differ from person to person. ADHD was formerly called ADD, or attention deficit disorder. Both children and adults can have ADHD, but the symptoms always begin in childhood.

The neurobiological basis of ADHD

What I found fascinating is ADHD is a neurologically based condition!

So a quick science lesson for you here… Image result for neurology adhd

* ADHD seems to involve impaired neurotransmitter activity in four functional regions of the brain:

Frontal cortex – This region orchestrates high-level functioning: maintaining attention, organization, and executive function. A deficiency of norepinephrine within this brain region might cause inattention, problems with organization, and/or impaired executive functioning.

Limbic system – This region, located deeper in the brain, regulates our emotions. A deficiency in this region might result in restlessness, inattention, or emotional volatility.

Basal ganglia – These neural circuits regulate communication within the brain. Information from all regions of the brain enters the basal ganglia, and is then relayed to the correct sites in the brain. A deficiency in the basal ganglia can cause information to “short-circuit,” resulting in inattention or impulsivity.

Reticular activating system – This is the major relay system among the many pathways that enter and leave the brain. A deficiency in the RAS can cause inattention, impulsivity, or hyperactivity.

These four regions interact with one another, so a deficiency in one region may cause a problem in one or more of the other regions. ADHD may be the result of problems in one or more of these regions.

Symptoms

Now the science part is over let’s talk about symptoms.

I am going to focus on the symptoms of adults with ADHD and here are the basic ones.

Adult ADHD symptoms may include:Image result for adhd symptoms

  • Impulsiveness
  • Disorganization and problems prioritizing
  • Poor time management skills
  • Problems focusing on a task
  • Trouble multitasking
  • Excessive activity or restlessness
  • Poor planning
  • People pleasing
  • Depression
  • Low frustration tolerance
  • Frequent mood swings
  • Problems following through and completing tasks
  • Hot temper
  • Trouble coping with stress
  • Bad memory

    Click here for more info on ADHD symptoms.

Now almost everyone has some symptoms similar to ADHD at some point in their lives. If your difficulties are recent or occurred only occasionally in the past, you probably don’t have ADHD. ADHD is diagnosed only when symptoms are severe enough to cause ongoing problems in more than one area of your life.

ADHD can also occur with other disorders as well some of these include:

Mood disorders – Many adults with ADHD also have depression, bipolar disorder or another mood disorder. While mood problems aren’t necessarily due directly to ADHD, a repeated pattern of failures and frustrations due to ADHD can worsen depression.

Anxiety disorders – Anxiety disorders occur fairly often in adults with ADHD. Anxiety disorders may cause overwhelming worry, nervousness and other symptoms. Anxiety can be made worse by the challenges and setbacks caused by ADHD.

Other psychiatric disorders – Adults with ADHD are at increased risk of other psychiatric disorders, such as personality disorders, intermittent explosive disorder and substance abuse.

Learning disabilities – Adults with ADHD may score lower on academic testing than would be expected for their age, intelligence and education. Learning disabilities can include problems with understanding and communicating.

So there you have it a quick summary of ADHD!

I have yet to discuss my journey into this diagnosis, but here are some facts on the disorder most of which I had NO idea about! I am still learning how all this affects me personally, but that’s another story for another day. For now I hope you come away reading this with a better understanding of what ADHD is and the realisation that it’s not all just about hyperactive boys in school but something that still affects many men and women into their adult life.

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anxiety · depression · grief · men · mental health · news · paranoia · self image · suicide · support

The Human Tragedy

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Someone recently pointed out to me that scientists and research has managed to find so many ways for us to live longer, yet the cruel reality is the younger generation are turning to suicide more and more, and it’s not just the young either.

So the question I put forward is why?

My theory. We are cursed with the awareness of our own morality meaning most often one of our biggest goals is to live a happy and meaningful life. But life is no smooth ride and especially nowadays we document our lives as if it were a magazine spread, upselling our lives and displaying it proudly hoping others are envious of our achievement at having what looks like such a successful life.
Truth is it’s more often than not a visage, what power does a photograph or a Facebook account have? It is but another mask to hide the consumerism within us of always wanting more and always wanting to be more.
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So what’s the conclusion?

Honesty. I think the media needs to put on a more honest display and view of life. We can’t grow up with this fairytale idea of everything going to plan, as when we meet failure (and we will meet failure) we so often think, ‘That’s it! Life plan ruined I failed!’ So starts the self-critical voice of ‘I never get anything right’ and the comparison of ourselves to others who may have succeeded where we failed.

Education needs to start teaching us about mental health too, the midlife crisis has moved forward to our 20’s making it a quarter life crisis! What preparation do we have for exhausting our minds trying to live up to an unobtainable standard of self then crashing and burning and becoming depressed, or discovering you have a mental illness such as Bipolar? We need to talk about these things so they are no longer an ‘awkward subject’ we shouldn’t be ashamed of falling or failing as it shapes us into becoming the person who learns to stand back up again.

Yet we do need help, we need coping mechanisms, we need education, we need people to stand forward and admit that they don’t have it all together, that rolls of fat can be beautiful, that scars are not signs or failure, that money isn’t everything, that relationships do break down…. Truth, honesty, support and above all acceptance.

So here is the question I now put forward for your opinions, where are we going wrong and how can we change?

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ADD · adhd · anxiety · depression · help · mental health · stigma · support

The First Step.

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How to start? Where to start?

From the very beginning?

No. As recently a new beginning has started for me…

A BPD diagnosis was a big part of my journey so far. Vicious cycles of meds, depression, self destruction, pain, confusion, CBT therapy, Group Therapy and Council Support.
But it always ended where it began, at the edge of a mental cliff.

So when another ‘bad period’ caught me somewhat off-guard I ended up having to take 5 weeks off work just to go through the system and be told by the NHS that there was a massive waiting list to see a councillor or a therapist, well due to this the conclusion was the time had come to go privately.

I chose someone local who specialised in a few things one being BPD, so to cut a long story short within 30 mins of the session I was asked ‘Has anyone ever told you that you might be ADHD?’
My initial reaction was to laugh, I mean isn’t that what mostly little boys had in childhood? I remember knowing a boy who had it and they were known to be the class clown or the trouble makers, I didn’t know girls could have it? Let alone in adulthood!?

From too young an age I have never had an ‘official’ diagnosis so Harley Street psychiatrist here we come! Another discussion of going over my past and eventually the conclusion? Signs of ADD mainly and ADHD. Who knew!?
I was started on meds which would confirm once and for all if this was my diagnosis. (How this works is the ‘fast release’ ADHD meds I was given only work on the brain of someone who does in fact have ADD.)
Well they worked, not miracles yet but they worked!

All this time, all this wondering, all this confusion and not feeling like I fit in… turns out all this time I was ADD??? 

This was not a diagnosis I took on lightly! I researched loads and turns out most symptoms of BPD are the same for ADHD, and the signs can be different in women. The more I learnt the more it all made sense!

So here starteth the new journey!

My therapist helped get me on this path, I worried it would be like all the ones before, but this time it’s not, it’s right, I can feel it. How can you work with or treat an illness when either you don’t know it’s there or you have been told you have something completely different?

So here is my new journey of the mind, you’ve read of my past, my research, my pain, my hope, my relationships, my fears and part of my story, but not of my future…

Now I believe I truly have a future join me in discovering and stepping forward for what feels like the first time in a long time in the right direction.

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anxiety · depression · help · mental health · paranoia · reading · self image · stigma · support

Being Enough

enough

What is enough?

This idea of being enough, having enough or doing enough has become somewhat toxic.
Whoever made us believe we were not enough in the first place?

For me it’s another part of a journey to revisit, maybe sometimes even re-live, what got into my head to make me see such little value in myself, leading me to believe that I am not, and never will be, enough.

What does enough look like though?
Maybe something from the adverts, like when you get your ‘perfect kitchen’, ‘perfect wardrobe’, ‘perfect partner’ or your ‘perfect beach body’? Just so you all know, perfect doesn’t exist!
So we start, without knowing it, to aim for this idea of ‘perfection’ as we are literally being bombarded with it everywhere; Instagram only has our ‘perfect photos’ or the ‘perfect days’ and the ‘perfect holiday’ – we don’t put pictures up of us breaking down over the fact that we got a spot the size of a peanut just before we were going on a first date, or the day you and your partner argued for hours and one of you had to sleep on the sofa, or the fact that every day you can spend hours in front of the mirror scanning your body for imperfections and comparing yourself to photos of your idea of ‘perfect’.

So if we achieve ‘perfection’ then will we be enough?
Since this is impossible then no we won’t, the only way we can be enough for ourselves, even to begin with, is by realising one thing; we are perfectly unique and perfectly ourselves whatever that looks like or sounds like – perfect is a fantasy, an idea, or a massive marketing fad to get you always wanting more.
Who can find peace or comfort in the idea that you are never getting it right, you never have enough or will never be enough as the world constantly reminds us ‘ahhh you may have that but you don’t have this!’, or ‘Well done on the weight loss but you don’t look like this yet do you?’. Look around you and ask yourself what and who am I really comparing myself to, my relationships and my life to?

What are you basing your happiness on?
If you decide you are constantly striving for something, be it perfection or this concept of being enough, then is your happiness based on this idea that once you achieve it you will finally be happy, complete, whole? Until of course the next thing you feel you need or lack as a person – constantly reaching but always falling from an idea placed in our heads that we are not complete and don’t have, or are not, enough.

Well I call BULLSHIT!

Perfect doesn’t exist and you are already enough.

Truth is you will be disappointed in life and you will disappoint others, you will get your heartbroken and even break hearts, intended or not.
You will always find something about yourself to physically or mentally scrutinise, and compare yourself to others; also the people you perceive as ‘perfect’ most likely completely disagree with you and are striving for their own idea of perfect too.
I could go on but the idea and the point is; in this era of social media reign where we are surrounded by messages of what we want and need, what ‘normal’ and ‘perfect’ looks like, can we not come together hold our hands up and say ‘I am not perfect but I am enough’. It’s not easy but challenge these thoughts, challenge this stigma.

As I for one know I am enough and am just working on that being my new truth and rejecting what the world tells me I ‘should’ be, or ‘should’ think, so challenge yourself today to accept your circumstances whatever they may be and realise this is temporary good or bad, perfect is not a destination but a choice to realise you are perfectly you, perfectly here and perfectly accepting or working towards the realisation that you don’t have to be anyone or anywhere else right now but find a form of happiness in NOW as the biggest truth of all is we have no idea how many NOW’s we have left.

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anxiety · depression · grief · help · mental health · paranoia · poetry · reading · stigma · suicide · support

Loneliness

lonely

The dictionary definition of loneliness translates as…

Sadness because one has no friends or company.
‘Feelings of depression and loneliness’

The fact of being without companions; solitariness.
‘The loneliness of a sailor’s life’

(of a place) the quality of being unfrequented and remote; isolation.
‘The loneliness of the farm’

Loneliness is a feeling everyone would have or will be familiar with, as to some extent we have all felt lonely even when logically it might not make sense. By that I mean for example feeling lonely within a relationship, or lonely in a house full of people who love you, feeling lonely despite receiving help and support in difficult times… sometimes loneliness doesn’t apply to the obvious situations but can apply to a deep despairing feeling which follows you wherever you go.

I cannot speak on behalf of many but for myself when I am in a bad place and am told to reach out, or to speak out and that others are there for me I start to worry. As so often I have tried to explain that when I’m in this place where my mental health and especially my personality disorder can get the better of me I don’t even recognise who I am for a while. In this place I am not entirely myself and having others say they understand makes me feel more lonely, having others say they are there for me then getting freaked out or feeling judged by my erratic behaviour makes me feel more lonely, opinions and fireadvice I did not ask for can make me feel more lonely. So automatically out of fear of upsetting others or being seen as ungrateful I withdraw inwards to a place where I feel I might be safer, as emotionally I am already on fire the idea of being burnt even slightly more scares me to death, as death is literally what passes through my mind every few seconds. If only these emotions could come and go but they just burn and burn inside of me with no logic to why they are so intense it causes my body and mind to shut down.

I wish I came with a manual so I knew what to say when others asked what they need to do or say, or what can help me, but I am not myself I actually don’t know… I can imagine being a friend, being anyone close to me at this time would be hard. Not sure how I would cope if I didn’t already know what this feels like, it can’t be easy but that only makes me want to withdraw more and be less of a burden. loe
But loneliness echo’s within me.
I could compare this experience to feeling l
ike a baby crying out with no idea what is happening and wanting to be comforted from this pain but having no one there, just people staring at me wondering why I’m so distraught with no evidence to reason. Until eventually I stop crying and bury the feelings, but they are buried alive and sometimes they come to surface with no warning then you all see the demons, then I am lost to an overwhelming desperation to put out the fire, to find some comfort to not feel so achingly alone I go back to being like that child.

Silence is not golden when it comes to mental health and my words are not always comforting, maybe often not useful, could sometimes even be seen as offensive but they are true and a living reality for me and many others.

I often cannot speak about it, I also struggle to take this mask of ‘auto-pilot’ off to show whats happening on the inside, but I can write, and I will write if not only to remind me but also others that we are not ever truly alone no matter how alone we might feel.
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‘I’m here for you’ those lips state,
But where have you gone?
You want me to answer your questions…
like I come with a manual once I’m broken.
We’ve all forgotten haven’t we?
So obsessed with ME!
How could you be there for me?
You don’t even know where I am.

 

anxiety · bpd · depression · mental health · stigma · suicide · support

Dreams

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I remember dreams… oh how reachable they seemed!

I would stand on stages and form into other people to the amazement of others, I would fall in love with a man and experience a love that I’d only ever known of in dreams.
I would travel the world like it was a piece of cake and soak myself up in all the beauty I encountered and which surrounded me. That feeling of achieving dreams was like being at the top of a roller-coaster when you’re about to go down the first big drop, the anticipation making your heart beat so fast! Then as you go your breath is literally taken away, it’s like you discover how to breathe all over again, the excitement captivates you completely.

Image result for roller coaster drop

You might wonder why I am romantically ranting on about dreams. But the realisation of growing older and having my mental health and self-loathing take so much from me has permanently changed my dreams over the years. Where I once dreamt of doing something I love I now only dream for enough money to get by and a job that doesn’t make me entertain my passing suicidal thoughts. I do not dream for true love but attempting to renew that love for myself. I no longer dream of travel but the chance to actually move out of my parents house and to call some place my own.
My ultimate dream has become to be able to yearn for more again without the feeling of impending doom, which is similar to that roller-coaster but no thrill or joy… you stand on top of a mountain and beautiful as it may seem you worry the leap, the drop might kill you, so instead of jumping you just stand still only dreaming of that confidence to one day jump.

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The reason I write this is over the years so many have said ‘Go for it!’, ‘What have you got to lose?’ or maybe commented on a lack of desire and drive to go after what you want. But it’s not that myself or others who struggle don’t want to pursue our dreams but when your mind and emotions can be so fragile there is so much more at stake than a simple chance of failure or rejection, it’s the idea that you might fall off that cliff of which you tried so hard to climb and this time you won’t be able to get back up. This time you will be another lost soul who couldn’t hack it anymore.

Image result for just do itHowever bleak this may seem I personally do see a bright future for myself and I do start to dream and yearn again but it’s slower for me, I tread carefully, this journey much like the one I started last year is one of self-discovery, discovering the lost parts of who I was and helping form the person I am becoming.
I am not a victim or someone asking to be pitied but I am merely trying to show another insight into the things many people won’t or don’t want to talk about.

If you can chase a dream then do it but if you don’t feel strong enough yet there is no shame, just don’t stop dreaming as dreams create hope and hope is part of what keeps us alive.