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

Facts on Men & Mental Health

gender

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.

np5ae66e7e

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.

ok

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.

ee

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

What is ADHD?

h

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.

Related image

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!

war

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

The First Step.

new journey

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.

stepp

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.

enough3

bpd · depression · grief · help · men · mental health · PTSD · stigma · suicide · support

The Breakdown

tumblr_static_tumblr_static__640

For all of those who don’t know what happens when you are seeking professional help after struggling with mental health let me paint you a picture…

Recently though not easy to admit a pattern has formed in my life where I noticed my mind was getting the better of me, things were spiralling out of my control. No matter how much I created positive distractions or looked after myself my mind quite simply kept crushing me and only when I had two weeks worth of anti-depressant pills in my hand and a bottle of water did I realise it was time to get fighting again, but I need help.

So the process… crisis line as in 111 was called, protocol questions are asked, then you are passed on to someone else who will call you back within the next hour otherwise an ambulance is sent to your location.  However in my case I got a call back, again questions which are hard to answer have to be asked such as, ‘Are others in danger?’, ‘What has happened recently to bring this on?’ 1
I mean if only I had a nail sticking out my leg those questions would be much easier to answer when in my situation from the outside nothing is visibly that wrong.  Eventually the conclusion was an emergency doctor’s appointment the next day was to be made and the crisis line would fax over what information they could to help the doctor who would be seeing me.

The next day comes, doctor appointment arranged, sat in waiting room, name called, walk in and sit down. How can I help you today? My initial reaction to the question is ok don’t think he has received the fax details from crisis line… the next thought being how do I even begin to answer this question?
I started by focusing on my plan, aim and concern at wanting to take my life and attempting to do so. He then asks what again may have ‘brought this on’ and I am aware besides a recent tragedy in my life I have nothing to complain about besides well a truck load of emotions with no logical reason behind them and a mind which sends all my senses into overload and makes me do and say things far from my character.

img-60602d-design_orig
So the usual answers are given and a reference to my past involvement with mental health services is mentioned, ultimately again this has to be passed on to the mental health team which I have previously  been involved with.

 

But before the next step or ‘plan of action’ is mentioned not so helpful statements are made such as ‘Your life is your responsibility ultimately’, an obvious and slightly unsupportive statement. Also to mentioning a tragedy of losing someone I knew and cared for the response being ‘That’s life’, again an obvious  statement of which I assume might seem cold to many none the least someone with an emotional unstable disorder.
So without even considering replacing my medication I am told a letter will be written with no indication to when the mental health team will be in touch and a simple ‘hang in there’ in the meantime (easier said than done!) 7e486d93357beedf78dc7960b2e10819

Now I won’t slate the NHS as that is not my aim, I won’t even slate the doctor who’s unwanted and unneeded opinions were hurtful and unhelpful as I know many might abuse the system. But I want to bring to light that physical and mental conditions are treated completely differently, for example you wouldn’t tell a cancer patient that their life is their responsibility as they never asked for such a tragic disease to happen to them in the first place. Neither would you rush someone into A&E after a tragic life threatening accident and then just tell them ‘that’s life’ send a letter to another healthcare team and ask for them to ‘hang in there’ until contacted to start a whole other waiting game.
Extreme examples I know but I only hope to highlight changes need to be made here!

Eventually the question was also put to me ‘Did you really want to take your life?’ Well yes I wanted to and still think about taking my life a lot and I won’t lie to some extent I don’t care how that makes others feel because after a lifetime of burying myself in guilt considering each and every way my illness might make others feel I ask myself, do you know how it makes me feel?

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.
tumblr_mdcrk7ubvL1qiwclbo1_500

‘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.