How To Help Someone With A Mental Illness

When someone confides in you that they have a mental illness, it can seem insurmountable. What can you say to make anything better? What can you do? Sometimes the answer is nothing.

But here are some teeny tiny suggestions to make things that little bit easier for them:

  • Listen
  • Don’t judge
  • Make sure they have food in
  • Make a cup of tea
  • Be patient
  • Ask what you can do to help
  • Attend an appointment with them
  • Ask if they need any phone calls/appointments arranging

If someone you love has recently been diagnosed with a mental illness, then you might not know what the next steps are. Here are some things you can do to help support your loved one:

  • Learn about the mental illness. Mind, Rethink and Sane have some excellent resources.
  • Look after yourself!
  • Allow your loved one time to come to terms with their diagnosis. Some people see diagnosis as a positive, others a negative so be mindful of that.
  • Find out if there are local support groups and offer to go along.
  • See your loved one as more than their mental illness.
  • Understand that your relationship may see new challenges, but work as a team.
  • Do activities together that don’t focus on the illness.

These are only the very basics of helping a loved one with a mental illness but often it’s the tiniest actions which make the biggest changes.

Rachel x-x-x

Follow:

A Quick Guide to Antipsychotics

Whether you’ve just been prescribed antipsychotics, know someone who is on them or just want to learn, here’s a quick guide to get you started.

Antipsychotic sounds like a scary word. There’s already huge stigma around taking medication for mental health without a name like that being involved. Another term used for antipsychotic medications is neuroleptics, which when broken means something like ‘seizing of nerves.’ This helps to make the intention of antipsychotics a little easier to understand.

What are they for?

Antipsychotics, as you might have guessed from the name, are drugs which help to treat psychosis. Illnesses which commonly have symptoms of psychosis are Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and some severe cases of depression. They help to reduce symptoms such as anxiety and psychosis and help you to feel calmer in order to help you deal with other symptoms.

There are 2 types of antipsychotics – typical and atypical. 

Typical antipsychotics are older. They tend to have more severe side effects than the newer drugs and the side effects are more varied depending on the medication.

Some typical antipsychotics you might have heard of are: Chlorpromazine, Flupentixol, Fluphenazine, Haloperidol, Promazine, Sulpiride, Trifluperazine, Zuclopenthixol.

Atypical antipsychotics are newer. They have fewer side effects but are more likely to cause side effects such as increased appetite and weight gain.

Some atypical antipsychotics you might have heard of are: Amisulpride, Aripiprazole, Clozapine, Risperidone, Olanzapine, Quetiapine, Paliperidone.

 

How do you take them?

Antipsychotics are usually taken in tablet form, or in liquid form if you struggle with taking tablets. They can also be injected in the form of a depot injection, where the medication will be released slowly over a period of time, usually over a fortnight or a month.

To make things a little more digestible, here’s a cheat sheet:

Rachel x-x-x

Follow:

A Portrait Of Depression: Meet Laura

Read the previous Portrait of Depression post here.

Today we’re talking to Laura from laurajdavisblog.com.

Introduce Yourself. 

My name is Laura, I’m 20, and a Psychology student. I write a mental health blog over at laurajdavisblog.com. I love music, reading and spicy foods, but I really don’t like mental health stigmas! When I was 12, I performed in London’s West End where I sang and danced!

When did you first realise you had depression?

At my diagnosis really! I was diagnosed with depression (and anxiety) in June 2016. Before then,  I never really noticed myself struggling or feeling unhappy, so when I was diagnosed, it all linked together.

Did diagnosis help or hinder you?

Diagnosis itself has helped me, because then I don’t need to be annoyed at myself when I can’t do certain things!

Describe your depression.

My depression is temperamental. I have what’s known as ‘high functioning depression’. This means that I can cope normally with day-to-day tasks such as getting up early, getting dressed and attending university. In the past, my depression has lead me to having suicidal thoughts. Also, my depression can stop me from wanting to go to social events and be confronted by lots of people.

What impact has having depression had on your life?

Early in the year it had quite a lot of impact. When I was studying at another university in the north of the country (which I left due to the mental health issues!) I found that I didn’t want to get up for lectures, I never wanted to socialise with anyone else other than my boyfriend, and I didn’t want to go outside of uni to explore, which was very unlike me. Nowadays, it hits me after a long and exhaustive day, where I may go home and cry and feel empty inside for hours. I also will want to sleep for as long as possible.

What has/hasn’t helped?

My anti-depressants have been AMAZING with helping me deal with day-to-day symptoms of depression. They allow me to have high-functioning depression unlike before, which has its benefits as it means I can achieve my long-term and short-term goals such as getting a degree and doing exercise!

In terms with what hasn’t helped, I’d have to say the pressure I put on myself. Because I have high-functioning depression, I often forget I have depression, pile on the pressure, and then I’ll have a two-day breakdown where I don’t leave the house.

Have you had to deal with stigma?

Yes. An ex-boyfriend of mine, and the reason we split up, was so horrible. He would call me boring, say I have no life and that I’m being ridiculous. It was so difficult for me and I started to hate myself for having depression and thinking, ‘why me?’

What would you like to tell someone going through depression?

I know that you feel like no one understands what you’re going through, but I promise you that they do. Unfortunately, more people have depression than you might think. Also, you’re not alone. I’d highly advise you to talk to a friend or family member about how you feel and have someone to talk to in your low points if you need someone. And it doesn’t need to be someone you’ve met, Twitter is one of the best ways I’ve met people who do care and support me through my tough times. So reach out, have faith, and don’t give up!

And what would you like to tell someone who doesn’t know anything about it?

Learn about depression in any way you can. I’d say by looking on the NHS is a good place to start! If a friend or family member comes to you for help with their depression, it is fine to ask questions about it to gain a better understanding, but try as hard as you can not to be judgemental; just because you don’t understand what they’re going through, doesn’t mean it isn’t real.

Anything else?

Yes! I just want to thank Rachel for letting me conduct this interview, I’m really grateful for this opportunity to raise awareness and tell my personal experience of depression. Also, many thanks to the mental health community on Twitter for making me feel loved, cared for, and needed.

 

 

Follow:

A Portrait of Depression: Meet Meg

Like people, depression comes in all shapes and sizes. It doesn’t present the same way in everyone and you can’t tell if someone is depressed just by looking at them. That’s why every day this week I’m introducing you to someone who deals with depression and their own unique story of it.

Today it’s Meg from megstroudblog.wordpress.com.

untitled-design-2

Who are you?

Hey I’m Meg, I am originally from Devon but now I am living in London doing a fun and interesting intern and freelance blogging! I like cats and dogs they make me so happy! And I dislike being who are rude or judgemental.

When did you first realise you had depression?

It took me so long to realise, I knew something was different about me from a very young age, I always struggled to hang on to friends and felt a general sadness about things in my life. It was like I was incapable of accepting my life and being happy. I always felt like something was wrong. And after an abusive relationship at university I came out of it feeling the worst I had ever felt, I didn’t want to leave the house or talk to anyone. I think it was a few months after that I realised I needed to go to the doctors and I was diagnosed with depression. It was actually a relief because I always thought something terrible was wrong with me.

Did diagnosis help or hinder you?

It really helped me, I was less stressed and confused. I realised that I needed to be kind to myself because I couldn’t help my thoughts and behaviour. I finally felt like I was moving forward and not round in circles.

Describe your depression.

It’s like having a negative slant on everything, whatever happened in my life I could always find a bad side of it. It made me afraid to do new things. And because my depression was linked to my anxiety it just filtered out into every area of my life. My relationships were bad, and co-dependent. I never felt settled, there was always something upsetting me. It’s a feeling I felt and tried to bury away because I didn’t want it and the more I did that the worse I felt. It’s like a voice in my head saying “you’ll never be good enough, what’s the point, why even try, people don’t take you seriously, who do you think you are” very self critical and damaging.

What impact has having depression had on your life?

As I’ve mentioned before. I struggle with relationships because I could never be “normal” And because of that I’ve spent a lot of time alone which didn’t help how I felt about myself. It always gave me doubts, it’s like a constant circle of.. “I could do this.. But I can’t” So I never did anything out of my comfort zone in fear of judgement from others or myself.

What has/hasn’t helped?

A few months ago I started to take anti-depressants which was scary, and recently I have increased my dose. I think it helps, I can never tell if it’s a placebo. But in general I do feel better, but of course I still get bad days. So going to the DRs has helped me. Something else that has helped me is getting counselling, with me my depression is linked to my childhood and it’s something I am working on everyday, it’s important to realise if the depression is linked to something is deeper rather than just an everyday feeling.

Have you had to deal with stigma?

I like to think of myself as a very honest and open person, and I haven’t tried to hide it from anyone in my family. I wouldn’t shout it from the rooftops however. I feel like there is a feeling of embarrassment, like why can’t just be happy on my own?. But I think it’s something that needs to be talked about more, and it’s more common than we think it is, people are shy hiding it, but I think it’s good when people talk about it then it becomes more acceptable. What would you like to tell someone going through depression? Don’t hide it, don’t go through it alone. It’s probably the best thing I ever did talking about it and going to the DRS. I know doctors aren’t always very helpful about these things but I got lucky with a nice female doctor. Tell someone you trust (mum, best friend, boyfriend ect) I promise you, you will feel better when it’s out and you can start to help yourself.

And what would you like to tell someone who doesn’t know anything about it?

Please do not judge. I know it’s hard for someone to understand something that have no idea about but depression is just like having a physical illness, just because you can’t see it doesn’t mean it’s not there. Mental health is very important and should be respected.

Anything else?

I’d like to add that getting over depression is different for everyone but it’s no way a fast thing. I believe it takes time and maybe even counselling helps. Sometimes there are deeper reasons to why you’re feeling the way you are.

Find Meg at megstroudblog.wordpress.com and on Twitter here.

Follow:

According to Selfharm.co.uk it is believed that 13% of young people self harm, so why are we still not talking about it? Here, Alice from invocati.co.uk talks about her experience.

selfharrm

This is something I’ve rarely spoken about in my life; I haven’t even ventured into talking about this on my own blog. But when I saw Rachel’s idea to collate other bloggers’ stories about their mental health, and how to stop the stigma, I thought it was very important that I shared my story too.

My name is Alice and I’m 21 years old. I’ve suffered with anxiety and depression since I was about 16 – just as I was leaving school and starting college.

I noticed my mood had changed but I couldn’t decide why that was. I was excited for college – I wasn’t scared or worried. My low moods didn’t make sense.

Nonetheless, I jumped right into my course with as much enthusiasm as I could. I made some lovely friends and enjoyed how creative a photography course allowed me to be. But unfortunately, my mental health was growing worse on the sidelines, and no matter how much I tried to ignore it, I couldn’t.

It affected my work and social life, and all my friendships.

I started to self harm as a form of control. I used the feeling of pain I inflicted on myself to control the mixed up emotions I felt inside. And it worked for a while, although the constant covering of my wrists was tiring.

There was always the ‘emo’ label attached to self harming when I was younger. You were an attention-seeking, emo freak, basically. But it couldn’t have been more the opposite. I didn’t want people to know. I definitely didn’t want attention. I just wanted to be left alone.

It didn’t really start to get better until my college tutor noticed what was happening. She took me aside and told me she was worried and wanted to help. She said something that still resonates with me now: “I know how hard this must be for you – watching everyone your age having normal lives, worrying about normal things, when you feel like you are worlds apart from them.”

It was so true. I couldn’t believe how isolated I felt because I was suffering with something I felt I couldn’t talk about.

I still suffer now. Luckily I am a good few years clean of my self harm, and I’m very proud of this! But my mental health gets the better of me even now.

We need to end stigma in talking about these things. It may be uncomfortable and still a little bit taboo, but the more comfortable we make ourselves with these issues, the more compassionate we can be towards them and the more effective our recoveries can be.
I would encourage anyone who is struggling to seek help, be it medical help or even just confiding in someone you trust. You would be amazed how good it feels to finally share the burden with someone who cares and who wants the best for you.

??Alice blogs at Invocati. You can find her on Twitter here!

Follow:

As part of my Think Again: Mental Health Series Rachel from Rachel Rambling On questions why we aren’t talking about mental health.
TalkMH

We talk about our physical health. If we have a cold, we get some advice from a pharmacist, if we break a leg we see a doctor, if we get a more serious illness like cancer, we get all the help we can. However, what about if our minds are sick?  What if you’ve been struggling to get out of bed in the morning because the thought of the day is too much? What if your mind is telling you you’re ugly? What if you have panic attacks every time you use public transport? Who do you tell then? Sometimes we don’t even tell our closest friends about this.

My question is, why shouldn’t we talk about it? Our minds are just as worthy of being healthy as the rest of our bodies. With this post, I aim to break down the stigma surrounding mental health, particularly talking about our mental health. In school we are told to see the school nurse if we have a headache or sickness. In school you learn about different sorts of illnesses but never about mental illness. Why is that? Why is it frowned upon to talk about what’s going on in our heads?
 

According to some statistics suicide is the leading cause of death in men under 45. Yes, that’s right. More men under 45 in the UK die due to suicide, not cancer or lung disease. Suicide. Let that sink in. I can’t help but think if we spoke about our mental health more often and more openly, then this statistic would not be so prominent.
 

I began blogging about my mental health at the end of last year. I am beyond happy that I decided to do this because the support I have received from fellow bloggers has been phenomenal, and key to aiding my recovery. I know not everyone can blog about their mental health, some people find it difficult to talk about it at all, but in my opinion, once you have talked to just one person, it gets so much easier, like a weight has lifted. Talking about my mental health has helped others, it has educated those who didn’t know about my mental illness and it has helped to stop the stigma surrounding mental health. There is still a long way to go, but if every person who reads this can talk about mental health, be it their own, mental health in general or even sharing this post, we would be even closer to helping to banish the stigma surrounding mental health.
 

To get involved further why not join the #TalkMH chat on Twitter. It’s on a Thursday at 8.30pm (UK time) and the host is the wonderful @hannahrainey_ let’s all get involved and fight the stigma surrounding mental health.

?? Rachel blogs at Rachel Rambling On. Find her on Twitter here.
Follow: