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

The Breakdown

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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

Collateral Damage

Why did I leave you ask?

Collateral damage.

You know those movies where it’s dangerous to know the superhero? As one way or another the enemies always find out their true identity, putting everyone they love at risk? 

That’s what suffering from mental health can feel like, but far less like a superhero.
It’s like you are the superhero and the villain all at the same time, and you want to save your loved ones from the darkness and the hurt and the pain so you leave, you push them away, you can even say harsh words because deep down you think you’re saving them from yourself, a monster that you know all too well.

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I felt like a monster for a long time. Unable to love myself, I even surprised myself to the lengths I despised my very existence. So if you try and look at it through my eyes everything that could have been portrayed as selfish, unkind or cold I thought I was often doing for others good.

What’s another one of those lines from these kind of movies that the superhero always says…? ‘Everyone I love gets hurt’. I figured better I push them away as kindly and as gently as I can before the real monster comes out and really hurts them.

Then the ultimate question why not take the superhero and the villain out of the equation all together? If both are dead surely everyone would be happy?

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How wrong I was.

 

It’s not fun to admit these things but it gives an insight somewhat into how someone in mental turmoil might think. 

Yet it’s not a sacrifice I was making, I am not a monster and those I thought I was saving I only ended up hurting more. I only discovered this through realising I’m a blessing not a curse, I’m strong because I know what it’s like to feel so very weak, I’m compassionate as I’ve known piercing pain. I need to live, I have to live and I will live.

My mind and body are my own they do not control me, and what I feed into them is ultimately what comes out, and I had been feeding them so much hatred and negativity for too long. Once I took that anger and stopped turning it on myself anymore I learnt to channel it towards all these lies I had told myself and believed for so long, then I fought and I fought for my life. I do it every day and it gets easier but silent battles are hard to justify to others when you feel like they want to see your battle scars.

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anxiety · bipolar · bpd · depression · help · mental health · paranoia · schizophrenia · stigma · suicide

What a difference a day makes.

Suffering from mental health challenges can sometimes mean one day makes all the difference. One day life is full of hope and possibilities, next it’s a struggle to even get out of bed let alone through the whole day. relatedmedia

One moment you don’t have a care in the world, then in a matter of seconds these thoughts and memories creep into your head! Plaguing your mind and causing you to question the very meaning of life, or to remember every wrong thing you’ve ever done.

A film starts to play of all the worse moments of your life again and again on repeat. Your mind searching for a reason to justify this sudden overwhelming and suffocating emotional pain. Anger and adrenaline swells up from nowhere causing you to be mentally and physically exhausted without having done a thing.

Then the next day all gone… you’re just left having confused everyone including yourself. Consumed on and off with irrational thoughts and emotions often not knowing why or how. Constantly trying to think of reasons why you feel this way, or if feeling desperate even creating them.

An exhausting roller-coaster of not knowing what kind of day you’re going to have.

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There’s a massive frustration that no matter how hard you try to be happy when this cloud envelopes your mind it’s so hard talking, moving, even getting out of bed can feel daunting. 
Did I do this to myself? Am I incapable of happiness? Questions that spin around and a feeling of guilt that while others battle these emotions due to events and life circumstances I battle it for none.

Why do you feel depressed? What has happened? What triggered this?
All questions that cannot be answered.

It’s just a waiting game.

So be patient with those who are trying to explain their mental health is getting them down as there is no telling what kind of day they are having.