“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.

Continuing to be Remembered

“Don’t Forget You’re Remembered”

It’s an amazing thing, isn’t it, what happens when you have a mental breakdown and suddenly disappear off the face of the earth.  For a short while, it’s as though nothing’s happened.  You lock yourself away, avoiding anything and everything that could possibly make your excruciating mental state worse and you go radio silent, preventing anything from getting to you.  Then, people suddenly seem to notice that you’ve gone.  That’s when the messages start.  Messages reminding you that “you’re remembered in thoughts and prayers”, “best wishes to you” and the like.

You’re remembered.

Isn’t that nice?  In my mind, it sounds remarkably like I’m already dead, but that might just be me and the state of mind that I’ve been in recently.  Anyway, it has a sense of finality to it.  Perhaps they think you’re never coming back.  Or maybe they’ve just given up on you already.  After all, the world can be very fickle.

Have you ever felt that?  That the words people choose for their messages push your mind in certain directions?  “I’m thinking of you”, having that ongoing concern but “you’re remembered in thoughts and prayers” feeling like you’re a part of the past?  It’s something I’ve dwelt on for a long time, wondering.

You see, there are so many things that I believe people get wrong when dealing with mental health.  One of those big things, as I’ve written about before, is putting the onus of communication onto the sufferer.  I feel there is no need for it, as people who care – and truly care – about the person suffering shouldn’t take the attitude that says “well I never hear from you, so why should I message?”  Though that’s a subject from a previous post.

But even when they’re not talking…don’t worry, because you’re remembered…

A Lame Excuse

Perhaps a little of my anger will show through in this particular section, but I’m sure as we progress you will understand where I’m coming from.  You see, the lines of “you’re remembered in our thoughts and prayers” just smacks of an excuse to me.  Not just any excuse, but a pretty poor excuse.  Correct me if I’m wrong, but it really really sounds like they’re saying “I want to care but I’m far too busy, so I’ll give you this lovely sentiment of being remembered so that you’ll feel better.”

Am I wrong?

It feels lazy.  As though they’re either too busy to bother arranging something or they simply cannot be bothered.  At least, that’s what it seems like to me.

Now, a lot of people reading this who have used that line will argue with it.  They’ll say that they’ve tried to arrange things, that they’ve attempted to make more of an effort to see you.  They’ll say that they’ve been met with a brick wall of radio silence, that they’ve not had any answers or that there has been no effort made on the part of the sufferer.  In other words, they’ll say it’s not their fault.

And maybe it isn’t.  Maybe they are simply doing the best they can with the situation that they have.  After all, if we won’t reply then what exactly can they do, eh?

What people don’t realise is that first impression, that initial moment is the key.

Cataclysm

In interviews, they say, it takes only 7 seconds to make that first impression.  7 seconds.  That’s it.  If we fail…then we fail, that’s it.  No more chances to make that good impression.

So let’s travel back together to that XXX.  How did it begin?  As I’ve already mentioned, it began with me putting up those walls, dropping out of things, initiating that radio silence.   Getting to grips with my condition left me with little room for anything else.

It was hell.

The radio silence, for the record, might as well not have happened.  After all, with no messages coming in to find out how things were, there was no point in maintaining that radio silence because there was nothing to respond to.  Not that I would have been able to respond if there had been messages.  With depression haunting my every waking moment, I didn’t want to talk to people.  I didn’t have the energy.  Because that’s one of the big problems with depression and other mental health struggles: the lack of energy.  Responding to people, trying to find the words to explain how I was feeling…that took energy that I didn’t have.

That brings us back to first impressions.  No one had noticed I wasn’t there, no one had thought to drop me a message to find out how things were going.  That cemented itself into my mind and, when the messages finally started coming, it was too late.

I’d given up.

They were meaningless.

The Blame Culture

You see, we live in a culture that seems to emphasise blaming others for whatever is going on in our lives.  Whether it’s a person, an object or something else, we will blame anyone or anything so long as we can avoid shouldering that responsibility.  It’s far too common, isn’t it?   I mean…have you ever heard someone use the excuse of “the dog ate my homework”?  I’m sure that’s one you’ve heard of.  Check these out (from the Reader’s Digest):

You see what I mean?  We are so intent on escaping any kind of culpability that we will blame everything and anything else.  And that’s what happens in these situations.  People will give us those short, “heartfelt” reminders that we are “remembered” but then do nothing else.  When we raise it as an issue, we are then told that we’re being ungrateful or that we never give them a chance or that we simply don’t message or don’t respond so why should they?

Likewise, we are quick to blame others when we lose contact with people or they don’t get in touch.  Who is really to blame, though?  After all, both parties could do more.  We, as mental health sufferers, could try and message a bit more and see if we can keep in touch.  Similarly, we as friends and family members supporting loved ones could make more effort to be understanding, compassionate, and realise that sometimes it might not be possible for the sufferer to message first.

My Conclusion

At the end of the day, having that reminder that we are “remembered in thoughts and prayers” is a cop out.  Why not replace it with actual direct questions?  Granted, a lot of people think “Hi, how are you doing?” is a bit of a lame message, so why not take it the next level deeper?  “Hi, how are things going?  Been thinking of you lately.  I’ve been doing X, Y or Z recently.”  Make that little bit more effort.

Who knows?  It might actually get you somewhere.

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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.

Managing Motivation – My Secret!

Managing Motivation

Do you ever find you’ve got no motivation to do anything? Well here, I share my secret as to how I get motivation to be productive. Why not join me?  It’s important for getting your work or other jobs done but it’s also vital for practising that successful self-care.  So do you want to get motivated?  Check out the video for more!

Useful Links:

Practising Self-Care
Successful Self-Care

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Become a Patron - Managing Motivation - My Secret!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.

Flipping the Fail to Find Fulfilment

When We Fail

Failure.  To fail.  Failing.  These are all words that we’ve come to dread, aren’t they?  They make us feel as though we’re not good enough.  We’re hopeless.  Worthless.  Rubbish.  In short: we have failed and we will never amount to anything.

Does this sound familiar?  In your life, you might feel like you’ve brushed with failure many times, or maybe just a few times as you’ve bulldozed your way to success.  Certainly, it’s a feeling that is one of the most common in the world.  But what is failure?  When we fail, are we a failure?  Have we failed?  Perhaps…but perhaps not.

Back in August 2017, Cheryl wrote about how there are days when she feels like a failure.  Days when nothing seems to go right and when we feel as though we are worthless, hopeless…that we can’t get anything right.  It’s almost as if we fail at everything we put our minds to.  We can’t achieve.  It’s been just over a year since she wrote that post and, in all honesty, it hasn’t been the last time she’s felt this way.  There are, however, two sides to every story and I would like to tell you my side.

I’m Only Human

Society has brought us up to believe that failure is bad.  If we fail then we haven’t achieved our goal and our efforts have been in vain.  Sound about right?  Whatever we have failed at – big tasks, small tasks or even something monolithic and almost monumental – we are worthless because we’ve not achieved.  That job we’ve applied for that we didn’t get?  We’re not good enough.  The problem that needed solving that we just can’t figure out?  We’re not smart enough.  Whatever it is that we haven’t achieved, we’re simply not good enough.

But we’re only human.

As Cheryl said in her post, to fail is human.  It’s something we all go through, something we all have to face.  Wouldn’t you say so?

“But I’m human. I’m also suffering with mental illness. And I’m not alone. Just from our interactions on Twitter, I know I’m not the only one who slipped and fell into darkness again. Oddly enough, that’s why I’m writing this, it’s why I’m not hiding and avoiding my task of getting my pick of the week posted. To remind everyone who slips that they are not alone. We make mistakes.” – Cheryl, from “Feeling Like a Failure”, August 2017

To fail is human, to fall is natural and we all go through it.  Through the shame, the disappointment and everything else that goes on inside of us when we fail, we are only human at the end of the day, and it’s natural.

But our mental illness doesn’t allow for that, does it?

“I Must Be Worthless”

While struggling with a mental illness, our self-worth takes a beating whenever we fail.  For those of you who are good at maths (not me, to put that on record), it’s as though our emotions surrounding failure have been magnified by the power of a billion.  It’s almost too much to deal with.

We feel worthless.

Cheryl is guilty of this.  I am also guilty of this.  I’m sure if you are being honest, you are also guilty of this too.  That simple acknowledgement can also feel like a failure, as we believe we should be better than this, but we don’t always process it rationally, do we?  You see, mental illness has a way of accentuating our feelings, making us feel worse than we actually are.  Depression, anxiety, BPD, bipolar…they love nothing more than to prey on our own emotions and make them ten, twenty, a hundred times worse than they are.  It can make us feel as though our failure is colossal and that we are completely worthless, for we can’t see the worth we have.

Though there is something I’ve not yet told you.  Something that might take this perception and concept of failure and flip it on its head.

You ready?

A Small Secret

There’s a little secret to dealing with failure.  You see, we tend to focus on one very simple, little, insignificant detail:

We did not achieve what we set out to do.

Looking at those words, it sums it up.  We set out with a goal in mind and we didn’t achieve that goal, therefore we’ve failed.  Despite our best efforts, we haven’t achieved that aim, ergo we are a failure, we have failed, there are no two ways about it.

Except…there are two ways about it.

Who says that your success or failure resides solely in achieving the aim that you set out to attain?  If anything, the aim itself is just one part of the journey to success.  Because that’s what it is: a journey.  Each time we set out to attain a goal, we are on a miniature journey to success and the end result is simply a part of that.  To refuse to acknowledge that is to discount the decisions, the attempts and everything else that goes into it.

So what is the reality?  What makes a failure not a failure?

The Reality of Failure

Even if you don’t achieve what you set out to do, you have not failed.  That’s right, I said YOU HAVE NOT FAILED!  Why not?  Because you tried.  Think to yourself, how much courage did it take to take that first step on your success journey?  The decision to try despite all the nagging voices and doubts inside your head (and sometimes outside your head in the form of real people) telling you that you couldn’t do it?  You’ve got to take those into account.

The reality is even if you didn’t achieve your goal, you still tried.  Against everything telling you why you shouldn’t or couldn’t do it, you still tried.  And that, my friends, is a success in itself.  You see, failure is only a true failure if you didn’t try.  As Lester B. Pearson said, “Failures are made by those who fail to dare, not by those who dare to fail.”

“Failures are made by those who fail to dare, not by those who dare to fail.” – Lester B. Pearson

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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.

Telling People the Truth…Harsh or Fair?

Convincing Depressed People They’re Mentally Ill – Truth or Lie?

Don’t you love it when someone is trying to make a point, one that goes against what you believe, and they then inadvertently give you a greater social media footprint for that day, better website views and a post topic?  Truth be told…I love it!

So let’s dive in.  What happened?  Well, on the 13th of August 2018, I sat down at my computer, opened my browser and started loading my website along with my social media accounts that I was going to work that day.  As I was catching up on my Twitter notifications, I came across this one response to a tweet of mine.  It was from Rob Grant.  Check it out:

So let’s look at the tweet in question.  It was one of our #BruisedMinds images that I share across our social media platforms.  In fact, it was the image on the left.  Looks pretty encouraging, right?  Well apparently Rob disagreed with one part of it: that depression is a mental illness.

Let’s have a look at his reply and break it down (no, honestly, I’m not getting some kind of enjoyment from this…but oh I do love a good debate/argument!)

“Mental Illness Can’t Be Cured – Depression Can”

OK, suffice it to say that I’m confused with this bit.  In a nutshell, Rob’s whole argument centred around this concept.  He is convinced that depression is not a mental illness because it can be cured, as opposed to things like schizophrenia or bipolar.  Forget for a moment that depression affects the mind and it’s, by its very nature, an illness (as apparently that’s wrong) but look instead at the part where he says it can be cured.

Did you know that?  Hooray!  That black dog inside your head can finally be cured!  *Now re-read those last two lines in a sarcastic tone of voice please…*

There’s a word for his kind of argument but I’m polite and won’t say it.  Even so, what is he on about?  Depression can be cured?  Since when?  Every single article that I’ve found – both scientific and casual – say that depression has no cure but it is treatable.  Treatable.  We’re given medication, we’re given therapy, but that doesn’t amount to a cure.  There’s no magic bullet that zaps it.  It’s trial and error for everyone which, correct me if I’m wrong, is treatment, not a cure.

But that’s not the point I want to make here.  That particular point stems from the first part of his tweet…

Convincing Depressed People They Are Mentally Ill Will Put Them In a Deeper Hole…Truth or Lie?

OK…let’s make one thing very clear: depression affects the mind, depression is an illness, depression is, therefore, a mental illness.  Are we all agreed?  If we’re not, you might want to skip the next section, because you won’t like it.

Alright, glad you’re still with me.  So how many of you actually have a problem with the term “mental illness”?  Do you find that it actually makes you worse?  Interestingly, I had a number of people tell me it actually made them feel better in terms of fighting their depression.  So, ignoring the remark he made at the beginning of that, let me tell you what I think.

Personally, I’ve found that there is nothing wrong with being told I have a mental illness.  Truth be told, it is something that I would expect once I’ve been told that I have depression.  After all, depression is a mental illness in my mind.  Regardless, I find that it is beneficial for people to know that they are mentally ill.

Think of it this way: your computer has a problem that needs fixing.  You get it to run a diagnostic and it comes up with the error code and what the problem is.  OK, machines can’t think in the same way that we do, so it’s not like you’re telling the computer it’s ill…but by getting it to tell you what’s wrong, you’re able to fix it.  Likewise, if someone has anorexia then surely there’s something in their brain preventing them from eating?  So is that not a mental illness?  Whether a biological or chemical factor preventing us from doing what is deemed “normal”, is it not still an illness?  If we aren’t told that we are mentally ill, won’t we just assume that we’re fine and then not get treatment?

What do you think?

So you tell me…is making the link between depression and mental illness cruel?  Is informing someone that they have a mental illness going to put them into a deeper pit of darkness and despair?  Somehow I don’t think so – though I’d welcome attempts to change my mind.

Let’s see if you can!

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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.

Episode 47 – We All Need A Little Help

A Little Help

Every now and again, we all need a little help.  Sometimes there are things that we can’t do, and we need someone else to give us a hand.  Even in our mental health struggles, sometimes we need that support.

Useful Links:
It’s OK Not to be OK

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Become a Patron - A Little HelpDisclaimer: 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.

Forgiveness – the Hardest Thing

Forgiveness

“It’s the hardest thing to give away, and the last thing on your mind today.  It always goes to those who don’t deserve.  It’s the opposite of how you feel when the pain they’ve caused is just to real.  It takes everything you have just to say the word: forgiveness.” – Matthew West, Forgiveness Lyrics

Believe it or not, it can be a part of our self-care.  We ought to be kinder to ourselves.  But hey, I’ll let the video speak for itself!

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Become a Patron - Forgiveness: the Hardest Thing to Give AwayDisclaimer: 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.

Facebook LIVE: BPD Awareness Week

Facebook LIVE

To conclude our Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Week, Cheryl and Alex took to Facebook to chat with people about the week, what they’d learnt and more.  With some fantastic questions, you won’t want to miss it.  Why not watch now?

Useful Links:
mind.org.uk Borderline Personality Disorder

back to the event hub

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Become a Patron - BPD Facebook LIVEDisclaimer: 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.

The Speed of Progress – How Fast Should We Go?

Less Haste, More Speed

How often have you heard that??  Less haste, more speed.  If I had £1 for every time either I or my partner have said variations of this to both my stepchildren, I’d probably be a billionaire!  When the 4-year-old is putting her toys away, she’s in such a mad dash to get them tidy and moving onto the next thing that she often gets called back multiple times because she’s forgotten something.  Likewise, the teenager is often called back to redo some of the washing up because it hasn’t been done properly.  He’s in such a rush to get on his PS4 that he’s done a half-job and it needs to be done again.

Less haste, more speed.

The only trouble with this is we’re in a culture of instant gratification.  In the world of information, everything is there at our fingertips.  All it’s dependant on is our typing and browser speeds.  In shopping, plenty of companies offer Next Day Delivery or immediate reservation for collection.  In cuisine and dining we have our fast foods such as McDonald’s or KFC, but we also have “instant noodles”, “instant mash” and other “instant” products.

We want things now and we’re so used to it, in this social mess of a society, that we often think many other things should be instantaneous.

Like, perhaps, a recovery from a mental illness…

Slow Progress

The offending glass…

When it comes to our own recovery, we never think we’re going as fast as we should be.  As I write this, I’m recovering from a hand injury.  A glass shattered in my hand while I was washing it up and it’s left me with no feeling in half my thumb and I’ve had to have stitches.  Apparently there’s a chance the feeling might return to my thumb, and I know the wound will heal, but naturally I want it to be done now.  Not tomorrow, not next week, not later than that.

Don’t we always?

My poor hand…

Yet I know that, as with all such things, it will take time.  We aren’t like Harry Potter, we can’t just wave a magic wand and suddenly everything is healed and back to the way it was.  It simply doesn’t work that way.

So what do I do?  I have to be patient.

The Truth About Progress

We all heal at different speeds, don’t we?  Some of us can close wounds quicker than others, some of us recover at a far more rapid rate than other family members or friends.  Why?  There’s probably some scientific, medical, mystical reasoning for it but I’m afraid I don’t know that one.  I only know that our illness, be it mental or physical, and our recovery are personal.  Exactly what it says on the tin: they are our illness and our recovery.  No one else’s.

Even when other people try and get involved by coming and telling us that we really ought to be better by now – admittedly this happens more with mental illness than physical conditions – it is not their recovery.  They have no part in it.  We will recover, but it’s for us to do in our own time.  We might not know when that will be but we will still do it in our time.

And that’s OK.  It’s OK not to be OK, we don’t have to recover immediately.  We don’t need to be more resilient.  We will get there when we get there and not before.

So please try not to be too hard on yourself.  You’re making progress.  You’re getting better.  It doesn’t matter how quickly or slowly you go…you’re in a marathon, not a sprint.

Keep going!

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Become a Patron - No Room For ErrorDisclaimer: 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.