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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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.
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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 · grief · mental health · stigma · support

Mourning

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This word I always associated with the loss of someone close, mourning loved ones which have sadly passed on and the process of mourning that person and having to come to terms with their permanent absence.

But I now know mourning is a lot more complex than that, as I have mourned so much in my life which has felt just as strong as the mourning of a loved one gone.

Nostalgia can feel like mourning, I look back on life especially the good times and mourn what has been and gone…But depression has made me mourn the most. The person I was, the person I could have been, possibilities gone because of a crippling mental wall which rises in front of me powerless to bring it down. images (1)
So many parts of me have died, parts of myself I used to love, it used to be so hard to bring me down I was so joyful now it can be just as difficult to feel joy.  I have come to mourn things I have barely even had, a house to call my own, a career of which I love, a relationship that well lasts and I mourn that zest for life which fizzled out so long ago.

Those around you especially those who suffer from mental health can know loss so well they are in mourning, it’s not easy to understand but just because there isn’t a physical absence in their lives that you can relate to it doesn’t mean they don’t feel like there is. It’s lonely, especially when you know it’s not logical and how someone feels may not be the truth but if there was a way around it believe me I think most would have worked it out by now as there is no comfort in mourning something you can’t see or never had, but we still mourn.

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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?