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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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?

depression · grief · help · news · poetry · reading · support

Diagnosis

How cruel you are to sneak in now,

Leaving us with no time to even process how!?

To cut short our time with no courtesy or forewarning,

Leaving our hearts anxious and sad already aching and mourning.

You enter our lives with scarcely a trace,

Deadly yet silent until you expose your ugly face.

Stealing our last breath as you take one of your many forms,

Making us work desperately still searching for cures.

But just hearing your name consumes us with fear,

How much time do we have left, will they even survive the year?

Sometimes all we can do is beg and pray.

That you won’t take them from us, that they will be able to stay.

Too many lives have been claimed by you incapable to escape,

Here for what feels like just a moment, then gone without a trace.

Just know we are coming for you, we want our revenge!

For all the lives you’ve taken from us we will fight back and avenge.

But for those who have just heard your name and are filled with doubt and fright,

Do not fear, take courage as so many more are refusing to say their final goodnight.

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

Think before you speak!

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I have tried to be as subjective as possible in regards to a lot of the posts I write on here. Both considering those who are new to understanding mental health and those who are very educated and clued up on the matter, as well as being mindful of those who suffer.

However as a BPD (borderline personality disorder) sufferer I wanted to write a post entirely on what it is like experiencing relationships and friendships from my view or rather ‘our’ view (for those out there who also suffer from emotional unstable disorders). 

What inspired me to write this was going on to Google and typing in ‘how to communicate in relationships/friendships when you suffer from BPD?’ And the majority of results that came up were links stating things such as ‘Why BPD relationships are so tough’ or ‘How to love someone with BPD’.  All these links providing reasons why other non-sufferers struggle to be friends with ‘us’, or how it is hard on them to handle ‘us’, and why many break from their relationships or friendships due to the turbulence of the experience of being close to this said person with BPD.

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I must admit this does boil my blood a bit, and lets not now suggest that this reaction in itself is due to my ‘disorder’ and having a BIG reaction to something seemingly small.
No it makes me angry as the sufferer seems to be portrayed as some sort of villain. As the question is often put across as, ‘how does it make YOU feel that your partner has a mental health disorder?’ Or how it makes YOU feel that your mum has BPD or even your best friend?

Now I’m not attempting to take away from this importance in the slightest as it is important how this makes YOU feel, as the education you receive on the subject will help you better understand and know how to communicate and cope with the sufferer. But don’t be fooled to believe that this text book education or small insight tells you or even begins to touch on what it’s like in the head of that sufferer, and I can guarantee to you most of the time they want to spare you the description of that daily battle.

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So how about how it makes US feel? Having friends who expect too much of you emotionally? Or partners who leave you over a condition you cannot control? Or parents who look at you in those dark times as if they have no idea who is standing in front of them? How it feels having strangers call us attention seeking or mental?
Well I can tell you it’s not good that’s for sure!

How about why WE want to distance ourselves from friends who judge us? Who get angry at us? Who put unnecessary pressure on us? All again because of an illness that due to them not being able to see they therefore cannot seem to understand? 
Or why we don’t want to, or are scared to enter relationships? Because we fight this pain and negativity and self-criticism in our heads daily, and believe me we know and already feel guilty towards any pain it may cause you! We can see and feel it affecting you, but just as someone in a wheelchair cannot get up and walk we cannot just switch this off.

No reminder needs to be said of how hard it is for you, how difficult it is for you, how painful it is for you etc. etc. as we have already gone through all of that in our own heads, hence why so many stay silent.

So before you speak to someone with a mental health disorder THINK about your words as they often only confirm our scars, only validate our constant self-criticism and lack of self-worth and ultimately only push us closer to that edge.

Think before you speak to someone with BPD, THINK!!!
As it often does far more damage than you can even imagine.

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charity · help · mental health · stigma · support

Month No. 6

Month Numbero Six

6 months today!!!

That’s it I have officially been sober for half a year, thanks to all the very generous donations you have all made to this wonderful charity Mind!

This experience has been life changing, what started as a decision to simply raise some money while addressing my relationship with drinking and the effects it has on my mental health has turned into something far greater than I could have ever imagined!
A journey where I re-discovered my self-value and that in itself is a realisation I had long forgotten.

So to keep it simple and sweet for all those who have followed me through this journey, if you don’t know much about mental health please discover more and help break the stigma by educating yourself and others, as you can make such a difference in so many people’s lives! And to all those who suffer with mental difficulties, if I can make this journey to recovery so can you! You’re never too far gone, reach a hand out, speak out and though the world doesn’t always reach out a helping hand or listening ear straight away there are people out there who will prove you wrong and want to help and support you, but most of all please know you are worth recovery, you are worth something and you are NEVER truly alone.

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The last thing I shall leave you with are a few words that I wrote roughly 4 years ago but still remain very true today…

If you’re reading this and you have ever felt completely alone, or you have felt at times you have fallen short of people’s expectations, if you have ever hated yourself or lacked self-worth or self-belief, if you have lost someone you loved even if its someone you just had to let go of, if you have had a million things you have wanted to say and not one willing ear to listen to you, if you have held back the tears for ages then burst when there is no one there to hug you, well I love you.

Not because I pity you, and not just because I relate, but because I truly believe everyone is worthy of love and no one should feel alone. I care because yes I’ve been there and I would never wish that upon anyone. People don’t understand that power of love…

This may just be my interpretation of love but I once read love was not selfish, so therefore love is selfless, so you can forget yourself and your fears, your problems to focus on that person and just be there, even if they don’t do the same for you in return.
So yes I love you because I want you to know you’re never alone.

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bpd · charity · depression · help · mental health · news · stigma · suicide · support

TV Appearance

This month I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to appear on ‘That’s Oxford TV’, where I had a chance to share my personal story on mental health.

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I was interviewed by the lovely Emma-Jane Taylor and though the experience was fairly nerve wracking it was great to have a platform to discuss such an important topic, and by sharing some of my experiences I hope others can find that bravery to start to share theirs.

To watch the interview just click the link below: WATCH HERE
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nIYAM1wjYV4&feature=youtu.be