A – Z of Mental Health

I’ve been wanting to write this post for a while so what better day than World Mental Health Day. K, X and V are missing because there were no obvious choices!

Also there are a few mental health resources at the bottom of this post if you’re looking for support or more info!

A is for Antipsychotics

If you’ve never heard of them then being put on antipsychotics can sound really scary. They can be used for psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and severe depression and can be really beneficial for those that need them.

B is for Better

It can be hard to see the light at the end of the tunnel. There will be good day and bad days but you with the right support you will get better.

C  is for Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)

CBT is a type of talking therapy that focuses on changing the way you think by transforming your negative thoughts into positive ones. It’s most commonly used in anxiety and depression and has been proven to be as effective as medication. You can undertake CBT with a healthcare practitioner or with self-help materials.

D is for Diet

Changing how you eat can have huge results in improving your mental health. Eating healthy foods and staying hydrated is really important in keeping energy levels up. If you’re constantly snacking on unhealthy treats it can make you feel lethargic and stop you from finding motivation to get better. Equally it’s totally okay to eat unhealthy snacks from time to time!

E is for Energy

If you have a mental health disorder you might find that you don’t have as much energy as you used to. Firstly, that’s okay! Mental health issues are exhausting so make sure to listen to your body – if you’re tired then sleep!

F is for Friends

Lots of people isolate themselves when their mental health is bad and one of the most common phrases I’ve heard is that they don’t want their friends and family to see them like that. But what if you saw one of your friends not being themselves. Wouldn’t you want to be there for them and support them? If you have good friends they will always understand.

G is for Goals

Setting yourself goals is a really good way to stay motivated and improve mental wellbeing. On the worst days set yourself small goals like Today I will make a cup of tea and on your good days the possibilities are endless for the goals you can set for yourself!

H is for Hearing Voices

Hearing voices is a common symptom of psychosis, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and even some more severe cases of depression. It’s also something 25% of the population experiences and most of these are not mentally unwell. For some people these might not be threatening voices whereas for others it can be an extremely scary experience. If you are hearing voices that cause you concern talk to your GP or someone you feel confident sharing this with.

I is for Individual

Every single person is different and therefore every single presentation of mental illness is different too. It can be hard for people to understand your presentation of something when it doesn’t look the same way as the media portray it. This is why we have to fight stigma to make sure that each of our individual portrayals of mental health disorders are given the right attention.

J is for Judgement

We all make judgements and sometimes these judgements relate to people with mental illnesses. We might judge people with eating disorders to be attention seeking  or think that those with Borderline Personality Disorder are ‘bad’ people. We don’t do this to people with physical illnesses so let’s not with mental health!

L is for Lonely

Feeling alone is common when you have a mental health disorder. But what’s important to remember is that you’re not alone. There are lots of resources and services that can help (I’ve left them down below!) It can be really easy to isolate yourself when you’re feeling bad but trying to meet a friend for coffee or having someone come over and visit you can be really beneficial.

M is for Medication

Sometimes medication is treated like a naughty word in regard to mental health but for some it’s a miracle worker. Depending on your diagnosis your doctor will work with you to find a medication that suits you whether this is a short or long term solution. Regardless, medication for mental illness should not be a taboo!

N is for Numbness

In my post Depression: How Are You Feeling? I asked people to describe their depression. An overwhelming amount of the answers talked about feeling numb which is a common symptom of depression. If you’re feeling like this talk to your GP.

O is for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder

OCD is a type of anxiety disorder that causes people to become preoccupied with obsessions and compulsions. To learn more check out Nicole’s post An Open Letter to OCD.

P is for Personality Disorders

In my opinion, personality disorders attract some of the worst stigma when it comes to mental health. The lovely Beth from Adventure and Anxiety wrote this fabulous guest post on her personality disorder  which you can check out here.

Q is for Questions

Whether you’ve just received a diagnosis, you’ve had a mental illness for years or a friend or a family member is dealing with mental health issues, chances are you’ve got a lot of questions. It’s totally okay to feel confused and not know what to do. To ease some of these questions there are plenty of services in the list down below for more info and support.

R is for Recovery

Sometimes recovery can seem miles away from where we are now, but it’s important to remember that recovery is a process. Recovery is about getting you to a place in your life where you feel in control to be able to achieve your goals.

S is for Self-Harm

Self-harm is extremely common but also hugely stigmatised. Often self harm involves cutting of the skin but it can also include burning, punching, hair pulling and lots more. You can read Alice’s from invocati.co.uk guest post here.

T is for Terminology

I think this is a really important one. On my course I hear acronyms thrown around all the time: UTI, CPA, CC. It’s confusing for service users and their friends and family. There is so much mental health terminology that makes it difficult for people to understand the real meaning behind professional’s words. By speaking about mental health more openly we will hear terms more frequently out in the open which will make things less confusing as a result.

U is for Useless

Feeling useless is a common issue when dealing with a mental illness. Maybe you’re waiting on a diagnosis so you don’t feel like you can make any progress or maybe some days you just can’t get out of bed so you feel like you’re useless to everyone. First things first, that’s not true. Make a list of the things you can do and you might feel a tiny bit better.

W is for Wellbeing

I’m a huge advocate for positive mental wellbeing. For me wellbeing is about feeling confident and happy in yourself and focusing on doing activities that help you to feel this way. To create my own positive wellbeing I like to listen to music, indulge in bubble baths and get frequent exercise. Try to think of small steps you can take to create good mental wellbeing for yourself.

Y is for You

This is what this is all about isn’t it? Whether it’s what you can do to help break down stigma or what you can do to help yourself. Your mental health is about you!

Z is for Z Z Z

Sleep is really important! Each mental disorder comes with its own sleep related symptoms. If you have anxiety, you struggle to fall asleep as night. Equally if you have depression you might find that you’re sleeping all the time. Get into a routine and be aware that you need good quality sleep to feel good! Check out my post on getting a better night’s sleep here.

Resources:

Mind

Mentalhealth.org

Rethink

RCPsych

Big White Wall

Rachel x-x-x

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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!

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If there’s something we don’t talk about enough it’s self harm. It can be a scary topic to bring up and maybe you’re just not sure how to approach the subject. Grace from Grace Believed talks about the do’s and dont’s of talking to people who self harm.

SH

Self harm is something that affects so many more people than we realise, it is such a hidden and taboo mental health difficulty and I want this to change! As a suffer myself I have experienced my fair share of shame and absolute fear of becoming vocal about my experience of self harm

Self harm is used to describe a wide range of behaviours which someone carries out to cause pain to themselves, which is often a response to emotional pain of some kind.

As someone who self harms myself I can understand the difficulty of supporting someone who self harms, especially someone that you love and care about. Knowing  what to say to someone who self harms is difficult, perhaps you don’t understand why, perhaps you want to help but don’t want to say the wrong thing, perhaps you just want to make your friend stop and their suffering disappear?

Here are a few thing things that I believe you should or shouldn’t do when supporting someone who experiences self harm (in my opinion and experience, be aware that this might not be the case for everyone):

  • DO educate yourself about self harm and read advice pages online in order to understand what they are experiencing better
  • DO talk to them – but realise that you don’t just need to speak to them about self harm, just being there with a cup of tea or going out for the day or watching a movie will be helpful (never underestimate the power of small gestures)
  • DO ask them how they would like you to help – don’t be scared to ask
  • DO spend time with them – just because they self harm this does not make them a different person
  • DO focus on how someone is feeling, rather than the action they are doing to themselves
  • DO realise that recovery is possible – however be mindful that they may have a relapse and this is ok
  • DO realise that the person may be embarrassed or scared to discuss their behaviour – be supportive and understanding
  • DO look after yourself, supporting someone who self harms is very hard you might not be able to support them on your own
  • DO advise them to see a GP or counsellor
  • DO realise that you might not be able to keep everything that they are telling you a secret – if someone is at risk or danger you might need to tell someone to help both yourself and your loved one (however please be honest with the individual and by no means tell loads of people)
  • DO realise how much of an amazing person you are – it is great that you want to help them on their journey
  • DO find out about alternatives to self harm (snapping an elastic band on their wrist, squeezing ice in their hand, draw a red line where they want to hurt)
  • DON’T expect them to instantly stop, this is very very unlikely and the pressure of asking them to do this may make it worse
  • DON’T accuse the person of attention seeking – this is such a common myth
  • DON’T expect them to want to talk about self harm – personally I often cannot find the words to explain why I behave the well I do and being pressurised to speak about it can often make me feel worse about myself
  • DON’T be scared of them – please don’t panic of overreact, remember that they are still the same person you knew before you found out they self harmed
  • DON’T be judgemental – this won’t help anyone, especially not the person experiencing self harm
  • DON’T assume that they are suicidal, this is one of the biggest taboos surrounding self harm, just because someone deliberately harms themselves does not mean that they are suicidal, please make sure you understand this

Mostly just let them know that you are there, be compassionate, be there to support them and hold their hand through their journey. Ultimately please understand that it is a long and hard journey to stop self harming and be aware that someone will only stop self harming when they feel ready and are able to do so and there will be a chance of relapse even after this.

??Grace blogs over at Grace Believed. You can find her on Twitter here.

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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.
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