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Is It YOUR #TimeToTalk?

Another month and another much needed, in my opinion, day of awareness on how important mental health is. February 1st is Time To Change's turn, with their Time To Talk campaign.

Talking. From the minute you are born it is something your parents are so eager for you to start doing. They wait patiently every day to hear… Continue readingAnother month and another much needed, in my opinion, day of awareness on how important mental health is. February 1st is Time To Change's turn, with their Time To Talk campaign.

Talking. From the minute you are born it is something your parents are so eager for you to start doing. They wait patiently every day to hear a word, a phrase, your first full, normally nonsical, sentence. Then comes the toddler/early school years where the chatter becomes constant from the moment the day starts to the moment it ends and parents are going bald from incessant hair pulling at the repetition, wishing sometimes they could shove play doh in their ears and their mouth is constantly dry from the "ssshhhh" ing and the "2 minutes". The thing is, the thing I love is, that despite all this, the child never stops. They are more than happy to get their thoughts, feelings, opinions and general nonsense across. Me? I envy them!

Don't get me wrong, there are plenty of people out there for which talking is not an issue. I don’t mean general, gossip or whatever but those lucky people who can open up. Who if they have a problem, are worried, sad etc have a place or person where they can go and get it off their chest. For someone who is emotionally and verbally challenged, although working through it, I can honestly say, the power of speech, the power that releasing words can have, is seriously under rated!

I can’t remember when I stopped talking about things of substance. I can’t pinpoint the time that I decided it would be easier to keep my emotions within. Where my brain decided I would be a logical thinker instead of a emotional one. The weird part for me is I can sympathise and empathise with people because of certain events that have occurred, yet I won’t always make the conscious link that that is what is happening. If I had a penny for every time someone asked if I was OK and I turned around and said yeah of course when in fact I was crippled with misery/fear/loneliness I would be rather rich and definitely own a pair of Louboutin’s! When did I decide my pain wasn’t worthy of support? When did I start thinking that no one cared? When did I think that if I was to say what was going on in my mind people would laugh or tell me I was being silly?

This inability to vocalise my thoughts and feelings created an internal wall and a hard-outer shell. I became a not very nice person in ways so that I could deflect my own misery. The thing is, I think I got so good at being this version of a person, I managed to fool everyone, myself included, that I was that person. People had no reason at all to think there was anything wrong with me, bar the obvious daftness. What I wish and what I have learnt though, is the power of those simple words - "How are you?" and "Are you OK?" Just because someone isn’t necessarily showing obvious signs that there is an issue, doesn’t mean they are not struggling. If they seem to be dealing with a difficult situation remarkably well, maybe that is the action that could trigger the whole, maybe I should pay a bit more attention? From the person who is struggling it is a tough ask but believe that those asking actually care, that they want to know.

A wall can only hold back so much, once one crack shows it isn’t long before they start to spread, like a disease. The wall weakens, it even starts to crumble. The problem is, if you don’t have the right support structure in place, when it falls it can cause A LOT of damage, to yourself but also to those in the "splash" area. That is the thing that many people forget with mental health problems, it is not always only the sufferer who could be struggling, it could be those around them. Those that feel they should be strong, that they should be able to make them better, that are so confused as they do not understand what is wrong. People fear the unknown and I believe that mental health

awareness should be taught and talked about from as an early an age as physical biology. They are just as important as each other!
This Time to Talk day, it doesn’t matter who or what or where, just ask the questions, "How are you?", "Are you OK?". Reach out to someone who seems to have drifted away, contact a relative that maybe you haven’t spoken to for a while, take a friend for a drink, have a quality conversation with your children - whatever they want to talk about! Kids have feelings and worries just the same as an adult. They should NEVER be made to feel that what they are thinking or worrying about is silly. That monster under their bed could be a whole lot more than just their imagination.

For those who feel they don’t have a voice, start off small. You don't need to offload in one conversation, but if someone gives you an in, and you feel you can use it, go for it. If talking to people you know seems scary or impossible, reach out to someone impartial. I will always have so much respect for my counsellor as she really did help me see. I could say things to her I still would never dream of saying to those I care about. She gave me my voice. My blog gives me a loud voice, but nothing compares to hearing yourself out loud, words spoken from your lips.

Your feelings are your feelings, your experiences are your experiences. Don't ever feel ashamed or worthless. Everyone has their own battles. Your strength might be the thing that helps someone else’s weakness.

It really is ok not to be ok, and it is DEFINITELY #TimeToTalk

CC xx

Website: https://redballoons2017.wordpress.com/

Time to talk day

I really think things are starting to improve with being able to talk about my mental health problems.

Less than a year ago, I would refer to it as “when I’m bad” or “you know, when I’m a bit off.” But now, I feel a lot safer in just coming right out and saying, that I’ve had problems with depression, anxiety attacks,… Continue readingI really think things are starting to improve with being able to talk about my mental health problems.

Less than a year ago, I would refer to it as “when I’m bad” or “you know, when I’m a bit off.” But now, I feel a lot safer in just coming right out and saying, that I’ve had problems with depression, anxiety attacks, panic attacks and PTSD.

I’ve been pleasantly surprised at the reaction from people I’ve opened up to recently. Just the other day, I mentioned it, when talking to my step daughter, about the death of my husband, her dad.

Her reply was, “I’m really not surprised! I can’t imagine the trauma you must have suffered. Not only in losing him in that way but then having to tell everyone. I think you are an amazing, strong person to cope the way you have. I really admire you!”

I was really taken aback. I think like most people, I believed that if I came out with my mental health problems, people would judge me as weak, mad, or stupid. I’m beginning to understand that isn’t always the case.

I believe that the Princes coming out into the open the way they did, has had a massive impact on how people perceive mental health problems and it seems to be talked about much more on television than it was. I’m glad, I hope one day, it will be viewed by everyone for what it is. A medical health issue, not something to be ashamed of.

Struggles with chronic illness

It’s important to preface this piece of writing by saying that change is afoot. In the depths of my struggles with chronic illness in the early 2000s, the words ‘mental health’ be it positive or negative in tone, weren’t really a part of the British public’s register. Whether this would have changed the experience of my… Continue readingIt’s important to preface this piece of writing by saying that change is afoot. In the depths of my struggles with chronic illness in the early 2000s, the words ‘mental health’ be it positive or negative in tone, weren’t really a part of the British public’s register. Whether this would have changed the experience of my own journey I don’t know. What I do know is that the conversation has never been so open and ready to be had, arguably, for good reason.

Physical health - Cause

Until I broke my Tibia and Fibula in a skiing accident when I was fourteen, I played football. I played football for my school and I played football for my county. When my leg was misset, I was never really very good at football again so I started to skateboard and did so at every available opportunity for the next three years. What I didn’t do for those early-mid teen years was do anything that I didn’t want to do. I didn’t take my maintenance antibiotics regularly and I didn’t ever seem to be able to remember to take my medication. We’ll put this down to typical juvenile vanity and denial about the situation I was in.

Long story short, my neglect for those years caught up with me around the age of eighteen. Spookily enough, it happened to coincide with becoming legally allowed to drink. I would go out with my friends, get home at five o’clock in the morning and be sat in an A-Level chemistry seminar less than four hours later regularly. This didn’t last long. For the next six years, I was in and out of long in patient stays at hospital in Leeds traversing non-invasive ventilators, lithotripsy (ouch), a nephrostomy (ouch), Central Venus Access implantation without general anaesthetic or sedation (ouch), gastrostomy insertion (ouch) and three lung transplant assessments (all failed).

Mental health - Effect

Vitally, a mandatory component of organ transplantation assessment is psychological evaluation. Enter Dr. Gary Latchford, Clinical Psychologist. Gary’s job was to see if my state of mind was robust enough to cope with lovely, happy little ideas like organ rejection and the so-called survivor's guilt. Whilst Gary’s assessment was over and done with pretty quickly, it was abundantly clear to me that I needed more of his time to come to terms with everything I had missed and everything that I was going to miss. I became conscious that I was obsessed with my mortality because it was so insipid. Everything about my life during those years reinforced how precariously balanced on the abyss I was.

The problem with my situation in particular, is that I am an expert by experience. That is to say that after living with CF for thirty years now, I know everything there is to know about my situation - be they metrics, statistics or prognosis. I knew at the time that there was a very slim chance that I would ever be in a position to have what was conventionally regarded as successful. From a family of academics, I wanted to achieve. I wanted to love. I wanted to be content. I was so angry that I was to be denied those things because of something I didn’t choose. My mental health was suffering greatly.

My solution

Hard work. Commitment and consistency transformed my life. I broke up with my girlfriend of five years and decided I was going to become the person that I wanted to be. Since that day five and a half years ago I haven’t had a single hospital admission. I take all my medication all the time and I’ve done a minimum of two hours physio seven days per week since. On top of three times a week cardio and one (I aim for two) weight sessions a week, the progression of my illness and the worsening of my health have plateaued. A lot of the hand wringing anxiety that comes with the relentless slide into disability and death has abated since I now know that I work hard to be as fit and healthy as possible; even if the benefits can only be observed retrospectively and at great distance, they are there. I’ve turned looking after my physical and emotional health my job, my 9 to 5. I still see Gary and have done for nearly 13 years now. Self development and searching for a greater understanding of my mind and emotions for me will never end since my illness and its impact will never leave me. I will never escape my illness and the dark days will return. Once more I shall petition the darkness for answers with tears rolling down my cheeks but this time, I shall know that I’ve done my level best to take control of my life and make my situation better. There is satisfaction and comfort in that alone.

Website: https://twitter.com/pro_patient

Christmas in Mind

Getting depression in sometimes feels like the right thing to do. Like, maybe it’s a case of ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’.

I was in Newcastle city centre yesterday afternoon, taking my time over my morning coffee in Starbucks and then deciding to pick up a few bits before I set off; new insoles, a… Continue readingGetting depression in sometimes feels like the right thing to do. Like, maybe it’s a case of ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’.

I was in Newcastle city centre yesterday afternoon, taking my time over my morning coffee in Starbucks and then deciding to pick up a few bits before I set off; new insoles, a hairbrush, a small pot of pick n mix from Wilko. Pretty safe to say I wasn’t exactly buzzing to get going. I started to feel a bit aimless, and not really sure why I’d decided to go shopping; and tired. I felt really tired, like I could have just lay down on a bench a fallen asleep right there. A pang of loneliness hit me (which was unexpected, I like being alone), and the ensuing despondency made me start thinking there was no point to anything.

Depression knocking; like a friend you’ve fallen out with who turns up at your house in the middle of the night, wet and cold and needing your help. I thought for a minute about running to Sunderland, then got my phone out and booked myself into a private room in the cheapest hostel I could find. I was so close to making the right decision too.

It was only last week that I said to someone how good I’m feeling at the moment; how motivated I am and how lucky I feel to be on this adventure. I said I felt so good that it was actually making me doubt how real my depression is; have I just been chalking up the days I’m just in a bit of a bad mood as mental illness?

Obviously not, but depression lies, even on the good days. You know when’s it’s February in this country and it feels like it’s been winter for about 5 years? You forget how warm it gets here in summer. It feels a bit like that. I remember saying to whoever I was talking to about it that being happy sometimes makes me want to reconnect with my depression, if it’s away too long. That’s going to sound ridiculous to some people, but when depressions always kind of there, there’s a part of you that misses it when it’s not around.

“I miss the comfort in feeling sad” – Nirvana, “Frances farmer will have her revenge on Seattle”.

It’s hard to turn your back on something that makes up a big part of who you are. I’ve learnt to appreciate the aspects of my character that are there because I have depression.

Anyway, I’ve let it in now which means I’ll be low for a while. How long is never up to me. But I’ll be fine. Christmas can be a particularly hard time of the year for a lot of people. Life can feel twice as hopeless if you feel like the rest of the world is full of joy around you.

If you notice it in someone you know, see if they want to talk, or tag them in this post. A smile doesn’t always tell the whole story. If you’re the one feeling low and you don’t want to get into it with someone you know, here are a few anonymous, confidential alternatives:

Samaritans : 116 124 (UK) 116 123 (ROI)
CALM helpline : 0800 585858
No Panic : 0844 967 4848
Papyrus : 0800 068 4141
SANEline : 0300 304 7000

Website: https://jaketyler.blog/

Christmas depression

It’s the season to be jolly, for most people anyway, but what about us that suffers in the dark side, that cloud of thoughts and bad feelings hanging over you.

The cloud hangs over me most of the year but at Christmas it always seems to be worse, it’s meant to be a time of happiness and celebrations with family and… Continue readingIt’s the season to be jolly, for most people anyway, but what about us that suffers in the dark side, that cloud of thoughts and bad feelings hanging over you.

The cloud hangs over me most of the year but at Christmas it always seems to be worse, it’s meant to be a time of happiness and celebrations with family and friends but somehow you always feel that staying out of the way will be best for everyone.

For me I have dark cloud and a little me in my head telling me things I don’t want to hear, but imagine trying to deal with these thoughts and sadness when you have children, young children that want Christmas day to be as magical as possible, but you just cant get into the spirit. On the surface you have a brave face, lying to everyone around you but inside your struggling, by doing this to yourself it can have a greater impact on your health and wellbeing, locking your problems away is not good for anyone, you and your loved ones.

Remember your not alone during these times, there are lot of people out there that are suffering just as much and more in some cases. So remember if you want to cry, if you want piece or if you just want to scream then it its ok, its all ok, we all need alone time, but I would highly advise you to talk to someone, it hard - I’m not going to sugar coat it - its not all candy canes and fairy lights, but having that first conversation with someone, whether it be a family member, a friend or a colleague, anyone you feel comfortable with.

Remember its ok not to be ok, but the stereotypes that we suffer that we have to face can put us off ever making that conversation and just suffer in silence.

Its not just about talking to someone, you may have already taken that step, its about doing something you enjoy, taking up a hobby, taking 5 minutes just to breathe, for me I love photography and writing its my release, getting away from the stress and being in the outdoors. So if you feel something isn’t right take 5, take 30 take as much time you need to gather your thoughts and bring yourself back. By having a go to hobby helps to take your mind away from what’s going on upstairs.

Christmas is a magical time of year and I want you to enjoy it, so blow away that cloud and, talk to someone and have the best Christmas ever and start the New Year as a new you, but remember there is always someone there for you, even if you think there’s not.

You may be reading this thinking what do you know and to you these are words. But If I explain that I’ve had thoughts of suicide and I’ve been on the sick more times that I can count, I’ve had counselling from MIND, and other counselling services, not all have worked but I have I’ve tried, I have just lost my job that I loved because of it which I must say was my decision to move to another part of my organisation and not me being removed because of my mental heath.

I am real and I am a sufferer, the only difference between you and me is I have now come to a point where Ill talk to anyone about me, I’m beyond the stereotypes, and even more so because I am a male. I want to help people so they don’t go through what I have.

Website: www.adventurebrown.co.uk

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