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Anxiety – Guest Post by Faith.

This morning I would very much like to share a guest post with you which simply comprises of a poem sent to me by a twelve grade student called Faith.  Here is what Faith said…

Hi!

My name is Faith and I am currently a grade twelve student. There have been some really difficult times in my life and as a result, I have written some pieces. This one is about anxiety and I would really appreciate, if you wouldn’t mind, to read it over. It’s a short poem.

Thanks so much,
Faith

As someone who knows these feelings well and also as someone who loves reading and writing poetry, I am delighted to be able to share this with you..

teenage anxiety

Anxiety

I can’t breathe.

I’m drowning and crying for help.

I’m screaming at the people around me,

But no words come out.

Panic fills up inside me,

As I surrender to the monsters.

Another attack,

Somebody help me, please.

It’s over now.

I try to regain my breath.

The people surrounding me stare at me,

Looks of uncertainty cover their faces.

I didn’t know it was going to happen,

Sometimes the trigger just comes.

I can’t do this on my own,

Although I’m in a crowd,

I feel all alone.

“It gets better” they all say.

“Just breathe and calm down”

They don’t understand.

There’s more to it than that.

I need help. But where can I find it?

Somebody save me,

I can’t do this on my own.

[Editor’s Note:  I am extremely grateful to Faith and want to thank her for sharing this with us.  But more importantly I want to send a message to you Faith asking if you are getting any help with your anxiety and any other mental health related difficulties that you may be facing.  No-one needs to face these things alone and we are here for you as much as we can be.]

6 Comments

What One Thing Can People Do To Reduce Mental Health Stigma – Featured Article

PsySciI have recently been contacted by Marcus over at PSYSCI.CO regarding an article that he had written with the help of some of the guild’s members.  This article entitled ‘What One Thing Can People Do To Reduce Mental Health Stigma‘ asks and answers exactly what the title suggests and makes for interesting reading which very much affirms what many of us who write about mental health and mental illness feel/believe.

In his introduction to the piece the author explains….

I recently set out to ask this one question to as many mental health bloggers as I could get my hands on, in an attempt to provide a full and hopefully useful answer to the question.

And this is one area where the Mental Health Writers Guild came into play, with a number of Guild members being approached and responding accordingly.

Additionally, among the comments/responses made by members of the guild, was this comment from Mary Widdifield from Behind The Wall.

It is our responsibility to speak about mental illness openly in an effort to help those who will be diagnosed sometime in their lives. Because talking about mental illness openly is a first step toward reducing stigma, which is the first step our society must take to encourage the newly diagnosed to receive treatment.

Something which I think all our members would no doubt agree with.

I would therefore invite all Guild members to pop over and read this article and to show support.  And I am very grateful to Marcus from PSYSCI.CO for letting us know about it.

 

 

 

 

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Your Story – Guest Post From The Author of The “Out of The Dark” Blog

The following is a poem written by the author of the “Out  of The Dark” blog and sent to us as a way of encouraging other who might be going through the same or similar things.

We are very grateful for this submission and would encourage members to pop over to “Out of The Dark” to see what else is on offer over there.

Your Story

inspirationYour story is your own to write
Each moment adding to the plot
You can control your character
But other things you can not

When depression takes a hold

And you can’t see a way through
Please remember it is just a chapter
And it does not define you

being-in-lifeIt may be a very dark time
When the world feels empty
Even your sense of self changes
Full of loneliness, pain and apathy

But in managing to carry on
Just surviving each day
You show your inner strength
And nothing can take that away

You can not foresee a good ending
It seems impossible for it to be happy
But in the best stories darkness is overcome
And in you it is the hero that I see

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Her – Guest post by Silke

The following is a guest post written and submitted not by a known blogger or guild member but by someone who is aware of the guild and who is still going through education. She writes about her own personal experience with what is a very important issue faced by so many today.

I therefore have absolutely no reservation in sharing it with you and thank her for sending it to us.

Her.

She had never been the kind of girl that felt comfortable in her own body. She had always been fat. She had always been the girl that didn’t eat birthday cake at parties, or changed in the safety of the bathroom stall because she was ashamed of her body. She didn’t know when it began, only that it did. She supposed that perhaps it was when, in her dance class at age five; the teacher suggested that perhaps she should lose a few pounds. Or maybe it was when the nurse came to grade one and weighed all of the students, and she was the heaviest girl. She didn’t know. Not that it mattered.

school-bus1She stood shivering out in the cold desolate curb that was her bus-stop. The wind howled angrily as it raced by, whipping her hair against her skeletal face. Soon, the bright, happy yellow school bus arrived. The sound of the obnoxious, unnecessarily loud laughter wafted by her, its discernible stink making her crinkle her nose. She scowled, but determinately set her feet on the first step, then the second. Their attempts at whispering failed miserably. Or maybe they weren’t even trying. ‘That’s the one I was telling you about’ and ‘What a freak’ travelled to her unwilling ears as she made her way to her seat. Fourth from the front on the left side, with ‘Autistic Andy’. Not that he was really autistic; he was thus named for the stutter that often wracked his speech. She smiled at him as she sat down, then quickly looked away, her cheeks reddening slightly at the eager smile he gave her in return. They passed the rest of the bus ride in silence. Listening to the giggles of the girls as they flirted with the boys that were only interested in their bodies. And to the rude remarks that the boys made to prove this. And then again, the giggling of the girls, to show that they didn’t care.

She lingered on the bus, waiting with Andy. She wasn’t eager to plunge into the mess of emotional pain that was her high school life. Once everyone else had left, she had little choice in the matter though. She walked out of the bright yellow bus, and headed for a place far worse. Its muddy-brown walls were riddled with black eyes that watched her with malicious intent as she approached. She gulped nervously as she got nearer, and then allowed herself to be swallowed by its huge, gaping mouth.

The day passed as most did, for her. Her classes, anxious interludes to the dreaded walks through the hallways. Lunch, her sitting by herself on the rickety old picnic bench while she engrossed herself in the life of someone whose life was so much better. Her traitorous mouth salivated when people walked by with food, its scent so tempting to her forcefully empty stomach. ‘No’ she reminded herself. ‘You know how many carbs are in that.’ Or ‘You’d be a cow if you ate that!’ ‘No’ seemed to be the answer to everything these days.

It was not until she stepped off of the bus after her long day and onto safer ground that her shoulders released the tension that she had held there. ‘Another day done, only 182 more to go’, she thought to herself with a sigh of remorse. ‘That’s a long time.’ Even the chirping of the birds and the cheerful sun shining down couldn’t cure her dark temperament.

Walking into her small house in the country with a white picket fence all around it and a garden of pink and yellow gladiolas she heard her mom cheerily call out, ‘dinner’s almost ready! I made your favourite- lasagne!’ ‘Sounds great mom!’ She forced a happy tone to her words, as she did everyday (with varying amounts of success). She groaned inwardly though, silently lamenting that something as delicious as lasagne was still off-limits for her. Dinner was as delicious as her flawless blonde-haired, blue-eyed mother had promised. She ardently devoured three pieces of the cheesy, greasy lasagne before excusing herself on the pretence of a test the next day. She rushed to the bathroom upstairs, and, as soon as the door was securely locked, she shoved her index finger down her throat.

[Editor’s Note:  I would again like to point out that this article was sent to us by someone who is neither a known blogger, nor a member of the guild.   She (Silke) is instead a young lady who is still going through her education and who – aware of the guild – was brave enough to share her own personal story with us in the hope of reaching others.

I am so very grateful to her for sharing this with us and want to encourage her to continue in her writing and in expressing herself in this way.  After all, aren’t the principle reasons why so many of us blog in order to find a voice for what we are experiencing and in the hope of reaching others?

If what Silke has shared with us has effected you in any way, or you would also like to encourage her, please feel free to comment below.]   

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Bipolar Makes A Mess: Can Counseling help? – Guest post by happygrumpymom

The following is a guest post submitted by happygrumpymom from over at www.happygrumpymom.wordpress.com and is published with both her permission and my thanks…

Bipolar Makes A Mess: Can Counseling help?

Managing my bipolar disorder is difficult – and yes, sometimes it makes “normal” life impossible. For the times when I come out of the mess – through counseling, medication, and lifestyle choices, I am hoping to find the solutions that are right for me. I am happy (most of the time) to have the rest of my life in front of me as someone who takes responsibility for and does my best to manage my illness so I can be a positive support to my family and community.

Recently after going through the denial stage (off medication) where I experienced a few months of depression ending in a manic mixed state, a helpful friend who knew I wasn’t doing so well and also knew I would need to have good habits in place in addition to my medication, asked if I was making any progress with my counselor. He asked if my counselor makes me mad… hmmm… well… seeing that I’m already kind of in a “mad” mood – but, I knew what he meant… does my counselor push me? Does he bring up aspects that I need to change that make me uncomfortable? The answer is… at first, yes – absolutely, yes.

Cunseling 101aWhen I first went to my counselor I didn’t want to go back. He started out with some sheets of skills to work on that I took rather personally. In addition, I figure… these are tough chemicals… you want me to outsmart them?? But, eventually, I had to admit that there were more than a few things there I could work on. So, I kept going back, and after a while I didn’t feel so “mad” that I had needed to work on some things – rather, I just wanted to change them.

It’s been a while since I began meeting with this particular counselor and although I’ve taken more than my share of steps backwards, I’ve also done a lot to move forward. I think often, because I can be stubborn and sometimes slow to catch on, I have to go through something big in order to really commit to change and make it a reality. And sometimes I just have to accept that each day brings something new – sometimes crappy feelings I have to sleep off and sometimes good feelings I want to live for and work for.

So, yeah, I’m asking my counselor to keep making me mad and doing my best to actively make change a reality in my thoughts and lifestyle. New habits take time, and when bipolar isn’t completely kicking my butt, I’m up for the challenge.

[Editor’s Note:  I am sure that many of the Guild’s members will have been through counseling at some stage or another in their journey.  And some are or have been sat in the other seat and are the one’s giving the counseling.  So this is something that many of us can relate to.  I am very grateful to happygrumpymom for sharing this with us and would encourage members to pop across and visit her blog and see what else happygrumpymom has to share.]

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Ten Things I’ve Learned from My Depression – Guest Post by Surviving The Specter

tw-sign6The following is a guest post submitted by Chris over at Surviving the Specter and is published with his permission.

At the head of his post Chris places the following note: “Note to Reader: This post mentions my suicide attempt. If this is a trigger, please do not read it at this time. May peace find you in your valley, my friend.

So in compliance with my standard policy I am displaying the Trigger Warning sign in order to emphasise the need for caution.

Ten Things I’ve Learned from My Depression.

Survivingspecter1Hi there! My name is Chris and I’ve lived with clinical depression since middle school. On 9/14/14 attempted to take my life. I was saved by my friends who arrived after I had blacked out. In hindsight, these are the ten lessons my depression has taught me. Thank you for taking the time to read this post.

  1. My Faith. I was brought down this path for a purpose. Perhaps it was to build me to the next level, or strengthen my dependence on the Lord, or to bring me to humbleness in order to care for others. Either way, I’ve been able to learn the message from the lesson. And that is, that with the Lord’s help, I am surviving through what (at times) has been a tumultuous ordeal. I know I couldn’t do it on my own. And for that my faith has increased.
  2. Imperfection. My mantra has become, “I am perfectly imperfect, and that’s perfectly ok.” I had a hard time with feeling like a failure. With feeling like I let people down. With having a low self-esteem.

It was when I was attending classes in the psychiatric center that I had an epiphany. The world does stop rotating when I mess up or feel like I fail people. Others make mistakes, I’m allowed to as well. I ain’t perfect and will never be. I accepted it. I stopped the self-berating. I got my ego under control. I left the pity party. I’ve been able to allow grace for myself.

  1. Support Network. I never realized I had this until I “woke up” in the hospital two days after I chugged a bottle of sleeping pills and passed out at the end of a noose hanging from the closet doorknob in my bedroom.

Friends and family were there. In abundance. They had dropped everything to be by my side. They put their lives on pause and came from states away to be with me through my struggle. Unconditionally.

I hope that when that time comes for me, and the call is given, I can be there for those that need it in the same manner these folks were there for me. Generally, you don’t need a ton of people in your support network. You just need the right ones.

  1. Personal Accountability. In order to be released from the hospital, I had to take responsibility and become accountable for my actions. I needed to have a plan in place in for the times Specter decided to fade out of the shadows and peel back his lips over his razor incisors. Here are some things I am personally accountable for-

♦  COMPLIANCE – Taking my medicine consistently and on a regular basis.

♦  911 – I realized that I needed to have a plan in place. I now have people that I call if I feel I am having an episode of depression. We keep our phones on at night (I used to turn my volume/vibrate off) and answer without hesitation.

♦  HONESTY – I have to be transparent with my medical providers/doctors/psychologists. I know I need to give them as clear a picture of my mental state as possible and they are here to help me. In turn, they need to know the effects of the medications as well.

It’s a good idea to keep a journal. Since I’m not one for lugging a notebook around, I use my Evernote app on my phone. I also try to bring in all my meds whenever I have an appointment. It gives my doctor an accurate picture of my supply and whether or not I need an emergency refill. The last thing you want to happen is to run out of your medications. The. Last. Thing.

  1. Stumbling.There will be times when I fall. When Specter knocks me to the ground in an assault from-the-rear. This goes back to #2. I have to realize stumbling is ok. That I’m a human. And that I am imperfect. And that that is ok.
  2. Learning. Be willing to learn about your condition…your mental health. Read articles on it. Start a blog on your condition. Be open and receptive. Make connections with other people. Join a local NAMI group where your voice will be heard. Never stop learning about your mental health.
  3. Cognizance. It helps to be aware of your feelings. The cycles. The timing of the waves. Through recording my episodes (or simply noticing when they happen on a calendar) I used to almost be able to anticipate when I would have one – usually about every two weeks. Fall-down crying, broken on the kitchen floor. It’s not a good place to be. The medicine I have now minimizes those episodes (20 MG Lexapro with 2 MG Abilify) and evens out the highs and the lows of a life with depression.
  4.  Healing.Find what helps you in your journey of healing. Journaling is a very popular coping strategy. I experimented with the tech version of journaling recently – blogging. I started surviving the specter in February of this year (2015 as of this post) and it has helped me process my experiences, as well as network with individuals going through the same thing.
  5. Sharing.I’ve tried to share my story as much as possible with those whom are comfortable. I was attached to a belt for 45 minutes. I have been fortunate. I have been given a second chance and I believe I have a duty to be open about it. To discuss it. To teach about it. To join others in their struggle. You will never know how much hope you will be able to give someone by telling your story.
  6. Outlets. You need to have an outlet. Mine is art in one form or another. I like to create beach décor and I started a side business into which I channel my energy. It is a healthy outlet. I’m an introvert by nature and so I enjoy being by myself with my tools and materials, building, and creating. I get satisfaction from creating happiness for others. Ironically, this is the project I completed hours before my downward spiral. What’s your outlet? What channels your energy?

Survivingspecter2

[Editor’s Note:  Again my thanks go out to Chris from ‘surviving the specter‘ for sending this to me for publication here on the Guild’s blog.  As someone who struggles with suicidal thoughts and ideation I personally believe posts like these can be very useful and extremely helpful and so I would encourage members to pop over to Chris’s site and check out the other items he has written.

I should also perhaps mention that whilst Chris has made a reference to his personal faith within his post (and whilst I myself am a Christian), the guild is not specifically faith-based nor faith-focused.]

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We’ll Miss You Steve – Guest post by Lily Pup.

As you know, I sometimes post guest posts submitted by our members. It is something which I like to do as not only does it allow our members to catch a first-hand glimpse of the writing styles of other members but it also affords members which an additional avenue through which they can share their thoughts.

Today’s guest post comes from lily pup from over at ‘lily pups life‘ and readers are asked to take notice of the Trigger Warning sign that I have included at the head of this post as this post does discuss the subject of suicide.

Wtw-sign6e’ll Miss You Steve

(originally published on the ‘lily pups life‘ blog on January 28, 2015)

POSSIBLE TRIGGER: This post discusses suicide.

 
Yesterday was a pretty good day for me. I actually decided to do some exercising which is a little out of my comfort zone. My youngest son is an amateur gym rat and he agreed to take me down to the gym and pop me on the treadmill. We did that and a few weights. Then we headed across the parking lot to Starbucks and got some coffee.

It’s a strange coincidence that this location of my gym is right next door to the mental health center where my NAMI bipolar support group is held. So the idea was to exercise a bit and then head next door to the meeting. Sort of get out of the house and do two things on the same trip.

I got to the meeting room and saw our leader who is a sweetheart and one terrific guy. He seemed sort of off but I didn’t pay much attention. After all, it’s a bipolar support group. People seem “off” all of the time. The rest of the group filed in and when it was time tostart, our leader announced “I have some bad news. Steve died by suicide Thursday night.”

Wow! I was pretty stunned. Who wouldn’t be? But there were lots of reasons it just seemed odd.

Steve started coming to our group about six months ago. The first time he came he announced that he had spent three hours on the bus to get there. He had gone to a NAMI group in his home state and really liked it. So he searched to find a similar group in his new state.

Steve was loud. He always had a quick comment and a joke to share. Once in a while he very slightly crossed the line and sort of hurt someone’s feelings. I know he didn’t mean to do this…..I think he was a little bit manic. He was a nice looking guy….very well groomed and in good shape. He was one of those mentally ill people that you’d never know had a problem if you met them at a party or on the street.

I know Steve had some serious personal problems. He had an ex-wife and he never had anything good to say about her. He had two kids and one was autistic. They were clear across the country. He had moved to our state away from where they were. I wondered if some giant incident had caused him to move so far from his kids. He never mentioned the details.
Steve got a car. He was pretty excited about that. We were all excited for him. I felt guilty about him having to ride the bus three hours to get to “group”. I only had a ten minute drive. (The center is close to my house.)

Now I’m not going to pretend that I was Steve’s best friend. I didn’t talk to him a lot one-on-one. But we talked a lot in group. And if you’ve been in a group, you know you can get pretty close in a small amount of time. You sure tell a lot of stuff in there you don’t dare mention anywhere else.

Last Tuesday Steve seemed great. Enthused about things, but not weirdly enthused. I saw no signs at all that there was anything wrong. Frankly, there are people in my group that could commit suicide and I wouldn’t be overly shocked. Upset and depressed, yes, but not shocked. Some people just have that terribly depressed affect.

I didn’t know that Steve was “dating” one of the girls in our group. They had been doing some hiking and other activities. She’s an enthusiastic person and I would think she had been a positive in his life. I guess he started texting her some strange stuff on Thursday night and she talked him down, but he went on and finished things off anyway. She and our group leader actually went over and found him. I feel pretty devastated for them.

In a very selfish sense, I am scared. Steve was up, dressed, chatting, smiling, and moving along on Tuesday afternoon. By Thursday night, he was gone. Could that happen to me?

When I’ve been suicidal it’s normally at the bottom of my low depressions. I’ve usually been crying for days, get huddled up in my closet, and get on the phone to a few friends and just sob. That’s when things appear darkest to me. That’s when I want to give up and go in the hospital. It’s really scary to think I could go from “normal” to gone in just two days. Can your brain chemicals swing around that fast? What if that happened and I killed myself without actually meaning to? How do you protect against that?

I’ve experienced this before. I was in the hospital many years ago and had a roommate who was in her 50’s. She had several grown kids and a nice husband. I had met them when they came to visit her. I had only spent a few nights with her, but she seemed awfully nice. She got released and went home and killed herself that night. I was devastated.

I’ve read that sometimes people make up their minds to go and then they are at peace with it. So they go about their business and seem normal to everyone else. They might make some arrangements but they are subtle about it so no one really has a clue. I wonder if this is what happened with Steve and my friend from the hospital.

Anyway, I will miss Steve. I will miss his loud sense of humor. I will miss remembering how much he wanted to be with us as he rode that bus for three hours. I am sad that the girl and my group leader are so stunned by having to find him. And if I am this sad, imagine the people that really knew him.

If you’re in your right mind, suicide is just not the answer. Steve, we will miss you.

[Editor’s Note:  I would, again, like to thank Lily Pup for sharing this post with us.  These matters are never easy for us to consider – much less to discuss – at times.  And yet it is, I feel, something for us all to consider and to be mindful of.  

Towards the end of her post Lily pup made the comment, “I’ve read that sometimes people make up their minds to go and then they are at peace with it” and then went on to end her post with a statement which contained these words – “If you’re in your right mind, suicide is just not the answer.”

And I think it is only right and fitting that I mention that if you are in a place where you have made such a consideration and are at a place where you are “at peace with it”, please do contact someone and discuss this.  Because no matter how much you may feel that you have made this decision whilst being in “your right mind” and that you have considered all the options and relevant factors, (and trust me I say this from a place of empathy and caring) please do try to hang on and please do try to speak to someone you trust about how you are feeling and concerning the decision you have come to.

I would also encourage all of our members to pop over to the lily pups life blog and check it out.]

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