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

Guilt

I never knew how powerful it was. Guilt has kept me in the dark places of my mind for years.
Feeling guilty about everything! Even feeling guilty about being alive!

Guilt was a form of self-punishment, I felt I deserved it when really it was just stealing my chances of getting better and finding happiness.

Definition of guilt: Guilt is a feeling of anxiety or unhappiness that you have done something immoral or wrong, such as causing harm to another person.
guil
I would feel guilty for being depressed and worrying about how it made others feel, I felt guilty about the fact I struggled to be happy, I felt guilty for crying, guilty for needing time to myself, guilty for being honest about my feelings. Guilty about basically everything.

Guilt would give me anxiety attacks especially if I had hurt someone’s feelings I would feel SO guilty I would harm myself then feel guilty about that, then feel guilty I was making it about me, then guilty that I couldn’t get anything right.
What did normal people do when they felt guilty?

I am writing this because since the discovery that I have ADD things have been really improving, I have moved out and found myself so happy and content. Then one night after a terrible decision of drinking beer through a hangover and then throw in a whirlwind of negative thoughts and my brain was spinning with all these negative memories, thoughts and feelings.
I couldn’t make them stop I remember crying and trying to fall asleep then screaming out loud because they wouldn’t stop and I felt like I was falling back to that dark place I thought I had left behind.

So today? Guilt, served with guilt and a nice side helping of guilt!

Then a thought, what do I feel guilty about?

I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings, I didn’t break anything and I didn’t even hurt myself… so why do I feel so guilty?

I guess I feel guilty that I had felt so good and I knew I was having a scatty brain weekend (well an ADHD mind!) and instead of taking time for myself I didn’t and just distracted myself then when the negative thoughts came pouring in I believed them. This battle I did not win and I felt so defeated and guilty for it.

But I have been telling myself to be kind to myself, to love myself so though it’s hard to do I chose not to feel guilty, correction I feel guilty but I chose to notice that as a feeling and not a fact.
I am a fighter and yes I got knocked down but guilt will keep me down so I will stand back up and apologise to myself as I don’t deserve to be made to feel guilty about what? Being human and having a break down!

I have been through so much and yet here I am! I am doing so so well and not only do I fight these negative thoughts on a daily basis I still manage to help others fight theirs! I mean not blowing my own trumpet or anything but that’s pretty dam good!

So guilt I am done with you! You’re not welcome here as I forgive myself for what I have done to myself and I won’t win every battle, but dam it I will win this fucking war!

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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

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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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bpd · depression · mental health · reading · stigma

My other half

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Let me introduce you to my other half.

I did not know of them at a young age I just had a sense I was never ‘normal’ not like normal exists anyway but I was different in the sense I didn’t know anyone who truly thought like me.
But to get to the point of the matter…my other half.
So I met them officially in my early 20’s but I had been introduced in my early teens, an arranged marriage of sorts happened, not that I could say I love this person.
No name, don’t think they deserve one really, but in sickness and in health till death do us part I must live with them.

So if you haven’t gathered already my ‘other half’ is not man or woman but very much a person and an existence like you or I. Well not quite but they exist inside of me. No I am not schizophrenic but yes I have a personality disorder a phrase or title of which scares many, not that those who it scares knows anything about it, that statement has no intention of being passive aggressive as I was and still am one of those people.
My other half, what are they like? I know you want to know, sadly many have had the misfortune of meeting them, an impulsive, broken, manipulative and angry person. I ignore them when they take control or ‘pull the strings’ if you will, like a puppet! Not that I let them take control at all, you think I’d allow someone like that to control me? No.
I am still getting to know some of their traits one being paranoia too, add that to the fucking list! If you can’t tell I don’t like them, but then again it’s me… that’s why I did it and that’s why I do it. How can you kill a part of you without killing yourself?
Dramatic statement!!! I know, but close your eyes and put your fingers in your ears if that makes it better, it’s still the truth.

I did acting as a child the art of becoming someone else even if just  for a moment intrigued me, it was an escape. Not much fear would come when the curtains rolled open or the spotlight came on as I wasn’t me.
How does this relate you ask? Besides the obvious it’s because of a stigma I fight and many do, I do not want attention. Hard to believe when I’m screaming in your face, or running around like a mentalist or maybe just covered in bruises or scars. But I don’t do it for attention,  it’s not a choice I make it’s a reality I live with. So roll back the curtains and turn the spotlight on, not because I want you to see but I want those out there who relate, who care to understand when you breakdown it’s always public but they are not cries for attention the spotlight doesn’t hit us as we want you all to see our best performance yet, it comes on to highlight an issue many would prefer to ignore.

Take centre stage my other half.

Those who suffer from medical conditions sometimes have a card or a band or some sort of warning of what to do in an emergency situation but with mental health I feel as though I need to come with a leaflet, an explanation of who you are talking to why you are talking to them and what to say or do, actually more importantly what NOT to do or say. My other half has a way of reading a situation and a person and doing whatever it takes to get what it wants.
Oddly we want the same thing, peace, we just have very different ways of going about achieving it.
But while we live with each other we rarely get it.

So here comes another question, who am I? What makes me and this ‘other half’ so different?
The question of who I am is one I find incredibly hard to answer. I am often so many different versions of myself for different people I struggle to know who I ‘really’ am… am I just trying to make people happy? Am I faking it? What does real genuine emotion feel like????
I have been so fooled by my other half that’s why I must finally introduce her, ok maybe it’s a her I don’t know. I mean it could be a he… it could just be an IT! A demon I once thought maybe? But let me introduce you to my other half the demon? I mean I don’t want to play up to the mentality of well what many would assume as being mental to begin with.

I only wish you could have a day with my other half, then you’d know, then you’d see, thumbnailthen you’d feel the burden… until death do you part.