Feeling Lost

I’ve not done much writing lately. I know Alex hasn’t either. He’s currently struggling to find the motivation to work on the website. Me? I’m just too busy going from here to there, trying to get everything done in time for Christmas. Some days I manage to schedule on Twitter, some days I don’t. When I don’t, I feel that I am seriously letting Alex down. When he’s been through periods like this before, I’ve been able to pick up the slack. But this time?

This time, I’m struggling to do that. Yes,like a lot of people this time of year, I’m running around sorting presents, food preparation and fitting in seeing people. But that’s not why I’m struggling. The reason is I’m feeling lost. The website has been such a big part of our lives. A project we’ve worked on together that has given us feelings of worth and productivity. And my partner in all this, the creative mind, the fuel that burns the fire that creates such wonderful articles, seems to have lost the will to carry on.

A Calling

I often say Alex was called to do this. I truly believe he is. He saw a need and has spent the last 18 months trying to fill that need for others, helping to improve understanding of mental health and support both sufferers and those around them. He has done this relentlessly for all this time. And now it seems he is feeling lost, that his contributions are not enough or worth peoples time. I’ve always said that even if we only help one person, that is enough.

The truth is we’ve helped a lot of people. Probably more than Alex ever realises. The hardest part of this is that I know how great he is at this. But due to BPD, depression and low self-esteem he doesn’t see it. I can’t force him to. All I can do is remind him of the impact he has, that the work he does, does have value. But while he’s feeling lost like this, I cannot find the path for him. He has to do this for himself.

Why Am I Feeling Lost Too?

So why is this instilling me with feeling lost too? Because previously I’ve been able to eventually motivate him again. We’ve looked at some new approaches and worked at it and found ways of bringing new content, tried new mediums. Been adaptable. Sometimes what happens in my mental health journey would inspire Alex on a particular track, or get him into such a state he would be calling to arms all of those who follow on Facebook or Twitter to give their thoughts or advice. But that spark just isn’t there and I am at a loss of how to ignite it.

Now this may just be another one of those periods where due to BPD his motivation has taken a hit. What scares me is what if it isn’t? What if he’s lost his calling? To be so passionate about something that he’s committed such a large part of his life to it, yet now to almost feel nothing? Yes, that really scares me. It scares me that one day he may feel the same about us, the relationship and family we’ve worked so hard to build. (Yes I am fully aware that this is my own insecurities and depression having a field day, but the thought still creeps in).

All I can do is wait. Wait and see. I’m going to keep on doing what I can, but like I said it’s not up to me.

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Disclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Crossing the Borders

The Borders of Borderline

Borderline Personality Disorder doesn’t seem to get much coverage, does it?  It’s pushed over the borders of what’s talked about and what’s not, left in the dark.  Why?  Possibly because there are still a lot of things that people don’t really know about it.  It’s one of the reasons we did our Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week back in August.  Well, this won’t be like all those times it’s not talked about because today I’m talking about the borders of Borderline Personality Disorder.

Saturday 03/11/2018

So, on Saturday I had quite a good day.  In the morning, I had a bit of a lazy day with Cheryl (the Little One was at her dad’s as it was his weekend with her) and we took advantage of that to relax a bit.  In the afternoon we went out to the shops to pick up a few things for the firework display at Cheryl’s mum’s that evening and then we went to pick up the kids (as their dad didn’t want to go to the fireworks with us) and we went off to Grandma’s for the bonfire and fireworks in the garden.

It was a lovely evening, with Cheryl and her sisters and their husbands, the kids, their cousins and, of course, Grandma.  Oh and the cat lurking somewhere about and the fish!  We ate hotdogs and soup and snacks, watched amazing fireworks from both Grandma’s garden and the garden a few doors down, as is the nature of fireworks.  Then the anxiety started up, the noise levels got a bit too much and I decided I needed to go home.  As if that wasn’t enough, I ended up with a bit of a squiffly stomach, which didn’t really help.  Anyway, we took the Little One back to her dad’s as it was late and she was getting tired, then I headed home and Cheryl went back to Grandma’s for that bit longer.

Truth be told, it was a lovely evening.  That night, however, things went pear-shaped.  Due to some mistake somewhere – with the chemist or the doctor or maybe I lost them – I didn’t have enough of my Quetiapine to see me through this week.  Normally I take them before bed and they help me sleep.  Well, I didn’t have them, so couldn’t take them.

And all hell broke loose.

Sunday 04/11/2018

I had two hours sleep.  For whatever reason, I couldn’t switch off.  I ended up binge watching Daredevil on Netflix, playing a little bit of a game on my tablet, tossing and turning, the works.  (There’s a blue-light filter on my tablet so it wasn’t that!)  It was only at around 5am that I was finally able to get some shut-eye.  Needless to say, it didn’t set me up for a great day the next day…

So Sunday…Sunday Sunday Sunday.  Depression, anxiety and Borderline Personality Disorder.  Lucky me, right?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.  On waking up at 7am-ish (don’t ask me why, I have no idea why) I was bright, I couldn’t sit still, I was bouncing ever so slightly on the bed (like the same way you’d jig your leg or be tapping your fingers, but I was sat on the bed at the time).  Then the mood crashed.  I lost all energy and motivation.  It was all I could do to get myself out of bed.

This was how my day went.  Up then down.  Up then down.  And again and again, over and over, mood cycling almost half-hourly.  It’s the part people don’t really talk about.  They talk about the lows of depression, the highs of anxiety…but what about the mood cycles?  Really, it was something like this:

You may have laughed at that and, if I’m honest, I smiled at it.  Yet how true is it?

The Reality of Crossing Those Borders

For those of us struggling with BPD, it’s a reality.  One minute we’re fine, the next we’re not.  The highs, the lows, the depths, the summits.  Crossing the borders between fine and not, between “happy” and “depressed” is so easy.  It’s sudden.  Unpredictable.

Horrible.

Do you know what makes it worse?  When you’re high and riding that feeling it can be quite euphoric.  I felt as though I could conquer the world; it was my oyster ready for the taking.  Nothing could stop me, anything I put my mind to could be achieved.  Then only moments later I was at the depths of despair, where everything was pointless, meaningless and I was hopeless.

Imagine that for a second if you can: going from that euphoric high to that crushing low.  If anything, it makes it so much worse because that drop is suddenly so much further.  Going from a reasonable day into a depressive spiral is one thing but going from that unlimited high down into that depth?  It really does make it so much worse.

So that was my Sunday.  How was yours?

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Left Behind – The Battle Behind the Choice

Simply Put: I Left

OK, so this latest post in my journey is difficult for me to write.  It talks about why I made the decision to leave behind a big part of my life.  A lot of people don’t know this, perhaps a lot of people don’t understand it, but here it is: the battle behind why I left my church.

Over the past nineteen months that Pushing Back the Shadows has been going, I’ve talked about my faith only a few times.  Not because I’m embarrassed about it – quite the opposite, really – I just don’t agree with using this mental health platform to push my religious beliefs onto anyone else.  If they happen to coincide with what I’m writing about, I’ll add them in, but only then.  It’s because of my faith that you’ve had posts such as The Mustard Seed – the fifth part of the Inside My Head series – and Why I’m a Christian But Have a Problem With Religion.  Now we come to this one.

To clarify, before you read what I have to say, this does not reflect everyone in that church.  Nor does it reflect my views on the church as a whole, the Salvation Army (as that’s the church involved), any kind of problem with other churches or other faiths and denominations.  It is what it is.

So what happened?

My Life In the Church

OK, let’s jump back to the beginning for a moment.  I’ll catch you up, don’t worry.  I was brought up in the church.  My parents are Salvation Army ministers and, as such, I’d go every Sunday, attend the Sunday School, you know how it goes.  I also became a member of the church, first as a Junior Soldier (the young people’s commitment) and, later on, a senior solider.  We also moved a lot, which was par for the course, and it led to many fantastic experiences such as living in Prague in the Czech Republic.  That’s definitely something I wouldn’t change for the world!

Don’t laugh…it was for an article and the photographer got me to pose! 🙂

Eventually, as these things happen, I was old enough to go to uni and my parents were moving onto their next posting.  Needless to say, I stayed behind, going to the local Salvation Army church.  That’s where our little journey begins.

Despite a few problems early on – being the pastor’s kid can present those kinds of challenges, as some people will dislike you simply because of who your parents are, others will think you know everything about the inner workings for the same reason and there are a few other reasons too – I settled into the part that I was to play.  A member of the brass band and the songsters (church choir, in a nutshell) as well as the worship team and youth team.  Later, I became deputy bandmaster for the brass band.  I took on the leadership of the worship team.  Also, I started leading my own groups in the Sunday School.

So what, you ask, went wrong?

My Mental Breakdown

Fast forward to around August 2016, when I had my breakdown with depression and anxiety.  I was under extreme pressure at work due to the number of calls I’d take working for the bank, how I was only a temporary worker and able to be let go at any given time (something that seemed held over our heads when it suited) and pressured into being at work and not being off sick.  We know how work turned out for me, but what about my church life?

I was under a lot of pressure there too.  Being a member of the different groups in the church was alright, I could cope with the responsibilities, but the leadership I was under became an issue.  Doing my best, then being told that I was doing things wrong but being given no guidance on how I was meant to do it…it led to problems.  Especially as my depression and anxiety started creeping up, I started to feel as though I couldn’t take a step without getting it wrong.  Quite rapidly – and rather shockingly – my church life, which had been a rock and a constant in my life for nearly a decade, was becoming very similar to that terrible workplace.

Having depression and anxiety is crippling and I’m unashamed to admit it got the better of me.  Exhausted, drained of almost all energy, I found that I was having to make choices.  Did I go to things like band practice, church, social gatherings or did I conserve my energy to get myself out the door for work, my only source of income and supporting myself?  I think we both know which I picked.  Unfortunately, not everyone saw it that way.  Apparently I was choosing to let my depression and anxiety beat me, choosing to let it keep me inside.  While that was right on a fundamental level, the truth was much more complicated than that.

One By One…

Aside from that one comment, at first everyone was supportive.  They tried to keep in touch, reminded me that I was missed, telling me that I was remembered in thoughts and prayers.  Then, as it became more apparent that my condition wasn’t improving at the pace they might have liked, they started to drop off the radar.  Encouraging messages and phone calls became fewer.  Visits that were barely in existence from the beginning also became fewer, bordering on the non-existent.

Add into this some of the people that I’d supported in that church, through difficult times, sometimes without getting anything in return, started disappearing off the radar as well…you can imagine how it must have felt.  All the while, the subtle voice of my Dark Passenger was whispering in my ear, telling me I didn’t matter.

After months of this – visits that never happened, messages that never came, people who were fair weather friends – I left.

The Battle Behind the Decision

I’ll be honest, people don’t understand this decision.  People tell me I didn’t give the church enough credit for what they did, that there were plenty of people trying to support me and that I ungratefully rejected it.  My take is that it was too little, too late.  Yes, there were those who were brilliant (and one who still is) but ultimately they let me down.  When they needed me, they were quick enough to come running.  When I needed them?  That was a different story.

The decision nearly tore me in two.  Part of me wanted to stay because of how long I’d been attending, how much I’d invested in it and the few people there who I still thought of as friend.  The other part…was still reeling from the hurt of what had happened.  Being abandoned in my time of need, being told I was choosing not to be there and being told I was rejecting offers of help…you can imagine.

Ultimately, I decided it was time to leave that part of my life behind me.  Trying to maintain it was only causing more hurt, the reminders of what had happened acting like mental scars.  For the sake of my mental health, for the sake of my recovery, I decided I had to leave the toxic part of my life behind me.

It was the only way.

What Came Next…

After making that decision, things have looked up.  I’ve joined a new church which is amazing.  There are two people in particular who are possibly the loveliest people that you could ever meet, who make sure they stay in touch and who are always on hand if you’ve got a problem.  It’s a beautiful little community of people and, more than that, it’s family.

I bear no ill will against the Salvation Army, for I still attend whenever I visit my parents and maintain a few friendships in the Army outside of that particular church.  As for the people of that church, I don’t hate them.  The only thing I feel, when I feel anything at all, is sadness.  Sadness that they didn’t realise what they were doing.  That even those who struggle with depression and anxiety and other mental illnesses didn’t know what to do to help me…or perhaps didn’t care enough to try.  Perhaps I’ll never know.

For the sake of my own mental health, though, I had to leave.

And that is the story of how I left my church.

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Building Our Dreams Up

Dreams

Have you got a dream?  I don’t mean the sleepy kind but the dreams that are plans for your life.  Something that you want to achieve.  It might be a career goal, a desire for a particular house or car or other possession.  What is it?

Tara, writer of www.wegotreal.com, wrote out her list of 100 dreams to share with us.  Included in those were things like visiting South America or Europe or Asia; travel for a year with her family overseas; read 1-2 books a month; perform in a community theatre production and many more.  Perhaps some of these coincide with your own dreams.  Personally, I want a Lamborghini.  Preferably a Gallardo or a Huracán, but we shall see what happens, eh?

Building Dreams

So you might be thinking that dreams are a strange choice of topic for a mental health blog.  It certainly seemed quite strange for me, but there is logic to my madness.  It all started with a tweet.  As coincidence would have it, this tweet:

It’s good food for thought, isn’t it?  After all, how many people like this do we actually know?  If we’re being honest, we know quite a few, don’t we?  They spend a lot of time telling other people how to live their lives, what they should and shouldn’t be doing.  But are they actually living?

The stereotypical and most obvious example would be parents.  Some parents insist that their children follow a specific career or educational path.  They have to go to uni, they must train to be something majorly successful such as a doctor or a lawyer.  Anything else is substandard, not good enough.  Alternatively, they believe that their child should enter the family business.  It doesn’t matter whether or not the child wants to, that business has been in the family for years and the child should follow in their parents’ footsteps no matter what.

Does this sound familiar?

Living Our Lives

Now those examples I gave before are perhaps a minority case.  I don’t really know how many people actually tell their children what they should and shouldn’t do in terms of their dreams.  My parents were always good at letting me make my own mind up, decide for myself what I wanted to do.  Not everyone is like that, though.

How many people tell us how we should live our lives?  Be it simple things such as how we should manage our daily stresses or how we should raise our children, do our work, all sorts of things like that?  Worse, how many people try and crush our dreams, labelling them as insignificant, unobtainable or as just plain stupid?

A scarier question, though…is are we guilty of doing that?

That’s right, I asked if we – that includes me as well as you – are guilty of telling other people how to live their lives or belittling their dreams.  It’s not something we will want to admit to…but I can’t help but wonder whether or not we’ve done it.

In truth, though, I think we’re all a little guilty of getting so wrapped up in what we think we should do and what we think others should do that we don’t really live our lives.  We hold ourselves to the dreams and standards that others set for us and we don’t really do what we love.  It can be a daunting prospect, though, following those dreams.  But does that mean we shouldn’t do it?

Chasing the Dreams

So what do we do?  Instead of telling others how they should live their lives, holding them back from their dreams – whether that’s by trying to put them on a particular path or by saying things like “I don’t think that’s a good idea, how can you afford it?” etc – we should focus on our own dreams.

I’ll give you an example: this website.  When my mental health started to spiral and I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety, I felt a calling to start a mental health support website.  I knew that it was going to be difficult, as we have running costs and it takes time to create the content, but I felt it was something important to do.  As a result, I’m building my own business out of this, so that I can bring about the awareness that is needed for people struggling with mental health conditions while making a living at the same time.  After all, it’s what I love doing.  I love helping the people who come to us needing help, I love raising the awareness and changing the lives of people who know nothing or next to nothing about mental health.

But it comes with costs.

As a result, there are people out there who disapprove.  Some people believe I shouldn’t be trying to make money from this – even though it’s all through donations that people are willingly pledging.  I’m not making people pay me for what I do.  I give it away for free and accept donations and pledges of support from others.  Others believe I should be in a job that is more secure, that pays a flat or set rate.  The trouble with that is that it would stifle the website because I wouldn’t be able to put the work in that I do.

So what is the right way?

I firmly believe that this is what I am meant to be doing.  This is my calling, my dream, my one aim in life.  No matter what other people think, no matter what they say, it is my responsibility to chase my dream.  No one else can tell me what I should be doing with my life.  After all, it is my life and it is mine to live.

So chase those dreams!

Who knows where they will take you!

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Taking Time Out to Put Time In…

Put Time Aside

I’ve talked a lot about the need to put time aside for ourselves, haven’t I?  Taking time out from our busy lives to simply stop.  Whether we’re too busy living life in the fast lane or we just don’t actually take that time out from our lives, we all need to stop for a moment, don’t we?

But why?  Why do we need to stop?  As I’ve mentioned before, sometimes it’s important for us to take that time out so that we can practise self-care.  It’s not always easy to do that, however, especially not with life being as fast-paced as it often is.  Yet it’s crucial, is it not?

In this post, I’m not just talking about taking time out, though, I’m also highlighting what we put our time into.  Our time is precious, is it not?  One of the most valuable commodities this world has to offer.  So it’s important we remember we’re not just responsible for taking time out of our busy lives, we’re also responsible for what we choose to put it into.

Behind the Metaphor

Alright, so we’ve already established frequently that I enjoy playing video games.  It’s my key downtime moments, my chance to unwind.  Some people enjoy a hot bath, others a good book, me…video games.  Recently, I started playing the Forza series, beginning with Motorsport 6, then moving onto Horizon 3 and now, after finding a good deal, Horizon 2.  (I know, I’m going backwards, but what can I say?)  To all who look at them, they appear to be racing games where you drive, you race, you compete, you (hopefully) win.  But there’s more to it than that.

One thing I love doing is taking a car, putting it in the garage and tinkering.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a petrol head or a grease monkey, but I really do love coaxing these cars to be better than better.  You’d think Lamborghinis, Ferraris, McLarens and the works would be the almighty holy grail of cars anyway, but in these games you can tinker with a variety of different car parts – from their engines to their platform and handling, tyres through to drivetrains and more.  It’s by swapping and alternating some of these parts that you can get these cars to the top of their respective classes and turn them into almost unbeatable machines.

And I love it!

Originally, however, I didn’t know what I was doing with them.  I’ve already mentioned that I’m not a petrol head or grease monkey.  I wouldn’t know how to do any of this stuff with my actual car.  That’s where the game makes it easier because it does it all for you, except you control what parts are being added and switched.  For those who can’t be bothered to do this or really don’t understand it, there’s a “quick upgrade” option, which you can select and the game will install all upgrades to bring it to its supposed optimal performance level.  OK, it doesn’t always work that way, but it’s an option.

But for me, it didn’t quite work.  Which was then that I realised I had to actually put time into my cars.

What I Put In

Selecting that quick upgrade option saved me a lot of time.  I didn’t have to go through the different workshops, selecting and deselecting parts, looking at performance scores and charts, determining what parts I wanted.  I also didn’t have to learn what on earth it was all about so that I would actually stand a chance of understanding what I was doing.

Ultimately, however, that didn’t serve me half as well as it was intended.  A lot of the time, the quick upgrade feature would simply add all available parts.  Alternatively, it would maximise engine power and not worry quite so much about handling, giving you speed over overall performance.

Yet how often is that what’s needed?

Customising a car in Horizon 3.

For some cars, the power is already inbuilt and what they need is the handling to go with it.  Springs and dampeners, better brakes, body weight reductions.  For others, they did actually need that power.  In other cases, an entirely new engine or entirely new drivetrain – changing it from all-wheel drive to rear/front-wheel drive, for example – was needed.

How would the quick upgrade know that?

It was all about that personal touch; how to get the car driving exactly as you wanted.  Personal preferences, driving styles and so on were lost inside that quick upgrade, as it indiscriminately whacked every upgrade it thought best onto the car.  So it needed something a little bit more…me.

Gradually, I started learning what I was doing.  Tutorials on YouTube or on the game, tinkering, experimenting and finally I was building cars of my own on this game.  And do you know what?  They worked a lot better!  Why?  Because they had a better match to my driving style.

Taking Time Out to Put Time In

So what am I actually trying to say?  Simply put, sometimes it’s not about taking the time out to recharge, it’s about making sure we take the time out so that we can put time in.  Be it a hobby, a new skill, something that we want to learn…if we don’t put the time in, we won’t get anywhere with it.

What is it you want to accomplish today?  What do you want to get out of whatever it is you’re trying to do?  I’d like to encourage you: take time out so that you can put time in.  You’ll be amazed at what you can do!

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If We’re Honest…

Being Honest

Honesty is supposedly seldom-seen in today’s world.  People are rarely honest with each other and some businesses are built on dishonesty.  With mental health, however, it is important that we practise honesty.  But not just to other people!  We need to remember honesty with ourselves as part of our self-care.  What do I mean?  Find out more.

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The Name of the Beast

What’s In A Name?

“Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a Montague.
What’s Montague? It is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a man. O, be some other name!
What’s in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other word would smell as sweet;
So Romeo would, were he not Romeo call’d,
Retain that dear perfection which he owes
Without that title. Romeo, doff thy name,
And for that name which is no part of thee
Take all myself.”
– Juliet Capulet, Romeo & Juliet, William Shakespeare

What’s in a name then?  I felt Juliet Capulet had a few interesting thoughts on that, though we’re not really here to discuss names, are we?  No, this post is on a slightly different slant.  More specifically: diagnosis.

Plenty of people have asked me over the years why I am committed to delving as deeply into my mental health as I can to find out exactly what I struggle with.  After all, I do seem to dig deeper and deeper until I’m satisfied that everything that is there is diagnosed – which is how my Borderline Personality Disorder came to light.

But why do I do it?

A Society Neatly Labelled

We have a lot of labels in our society.  Naturally, it makes sense that things around us have labels, but we find a lot of people have them too.  Everyone, nowadays, seems to have some kind of label, no?  Some defining attribute, something in their physical appearance, something else…it gets taken and turned into a label.

So it is with mental health as well, for people find their diagnosis becomes their identity.  Just as the classic line for AA says “Hi, my name is X and I’m an alcoholic”, we find plenty of people are being labelled according to their mental health.  People are known by whether they’re depressed, anxious, bipolar, have a personality disorder, or even an array of physical health conditions.

Assuming all that is accurate…why, then, would I want to find out what all my labels are?

Quite simply: it names the beast.

The Name of the Beast

Call me crazy (although my mother had me tested…no, only joking) but I find a label helps me to cope with my mental illness.  In the same way someone else can identify it, I find that I can better identify with it as well.  It helps me understand what I’m dealing with.  In a sense, it gives me a truer understanding of the problem.

Alright, let’s sidetrack a moment.  Imagine you’re in the swimming pool with your child – for argument’s sake, we’ll say a four-year-old, as I’ve got experience of that.  As she can’t swim well, she’s got a rubber ring on but you find the rubber ring keeps deflating.  That implies that there is a hole in it where the air is escaping, but you can’t fix it without knowing where the hole is.  So begins the epic hunt for this tiny pinprick so that it can be fixed.  The only trouble is you have to know exactly where that hole is.

Likewise, having a diagnosis provides me with the information that I need to be able to cope with the condition.  Before the diagnosis, I know something is wrong.  I know that there are things that will need changing, perhaps, or things that will need attention before whatever it is can be made better.  But without knowing what it is that needs fixing (as opposed to the location for the rubber ring analogy), how can I fix it?

So for me, having a name for whatever is wrong, having a diagnosis is helpful.

The Caution to this Tale

Knowing what the illness or condition is is all very well, but what happens afterwards, what we choose to do with it is something else entirely.  For some, it seems to be that they collect medical diagnoses almost like scout/brownie badges, as avidly as a collector.  That’s not disagreeing that they have those conditions, but does it really help them move past it?

Others will take those labels, make them their own and continue to hold onto them the way a miser holds onto money.  They cannot be parted from them because suddenly it is an immovable part of their personality or psyche and no one can take that away from them.

It’s important, as we gather these labels, that we don’t stick them to ourselves with superglue.  We still have that responsibility to try and work through them instead of sitting in them.  If we don’t move forwards, we will be forever stuck with them when there is still the potential to move past it or through it.  (Granted, some conditions are lifelong and that’s OK, but others aren’t and it’s those that this last comment concerns itself with).

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Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Whose Problem Is It Anyway?

Problems Problems Problems…

Whenever something bad happens like someone not talking to us or people not understanding our mental health, we make it our problem.  We blame ourselves.  Don’t we?  And yet is it really down to us?  Let’s find out.

Useful Links:
Who I Am

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Become a Patron - Whose Problem Is It AnywayDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

“But the facts say…and they can’t be argued with!”

Facing the Facts

Facts…I don’t know about you but I used to hate them at school and university!  Every essay I ever had to write about anything had to be backed up with cold hard facts.  It didn’t even really matter what it was about, we had to reinforce our arguments.  I can honestly say it used to frustrate me to no end because I knew what my argument said, it felt justified, why did I need to include this fact or that fact to make it concrete?

Regardless of my feeling towards them, facts exist.  They’re all around us.  Sometimes simple things, other times a little more abstract, but we can find examples of them in our everyday lives.  The trouble is, they can be taken in three different ways:

  • treated as gospel
  • taken with indifference
  • completely ignored

Which are you?

Really, I’m sure we can all think of someone to fit each of those three categories.  I certainly can!  I could go on almost endlessly about certain individuals who refuse to accept what’s going on around them, even though it’s almost as set in stone as is possible.  Personally, I treat them with indifference because they’re there, I can’t change them, I’ll use them if necessary but other than that they can keep to themselves.  If that makes sense, of course.

It’s the first point that I want to focus on.

“The stats tell you all you need to know.”

That was said to me by someone over on our Twitter account, who believed firmly that I was wrong in saying that our struggle with our mental health doesn’t define us.  Apparently, things like thoughts, behaviours, etc are defining attributes and all of those, filled with mental illness, make our struggle our identity.  I argued that those can be changed, but apparently it’s a case that “it’s not about being convinced, the stats tell you all you need to know”.

Well…politely put…that’s a load of tosh.

Why?

Because why exactly should we go by the stats?  They might tell us that depression is a dark pit that only the extremely lucky can climb out of; that anxiety is a never-ending cycle of panic, calm, panic, calm; that insomnia is sleepless nights for the rest of your life.  Perhaps they tell us that people need medication and/or therapy in order to get out of mental illness, and even that isn’t guaranteed to work.

But why should we limit ourselves by what the stats and the facts tell us?

Aim for the Moon

Why exactly should we limit ourselves based on what the stats and facts are telling us?  Surely that is nonsensical?  After all, doing so only serves to shoot ourselves in the foot, crippling us before we’ve even left the starting line.  Believe me when I say it won’t get us anywhere.  Instead of helping us get better or work through our mental illness, we’ll start to believe that we cannot get out of it.

We will be limited before we’ve even started.

So what should we do instead?  Metaphorically speaking, we should aim for the moon, because that way if we fall, we fall amongst the stars.  Might seem whimsical and almost like some ridiculous fantasy, but isn’t it true?  If we set our sights on what the stats have told us and where the facts are, that’s as far as we will ever go, if we make it even that far.  If we set our sights beyond that then we stand a far better chance of making it past the limitations that they have put on us to begin with.

Wouldn’t you say that’s better?

In every single one of us, there is the potential to be something better than we are now.  We can move past the restraints our mental illness puts on us.  Granted, some of us will become another one of the “can’t be cured” statistics, but others of us might get through, who knows?

But why should we let the stats and the facts tell us that it’s pointless to even try?

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Become a Patron - Facing the FactsDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Episode 49 – How Can We Get Help?

Asking For Help

Asking for help can be one of the toughest things to do.  When we finally work up that courage, there are a few things that can knock us back down.  Being ignored or not properly listened to, having our struggle belittled and having advice shoved at us.  In this episode, I ask how we’re meant to get help when that’s all people do.  Warning: it’s not for the easily offended.  It carries an important message that we must share.  These are things we must change.  So why not listen?  See what you can do.  Look after others.  But most importantly: listen and take the time to understand.  You won’t be able to assist them otherwise.

Useful Links:
Talking Things Through
Practically Perfect

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Become a Patron - How Can We Get Help?Disclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.