Tuesday, 10 October 2017

World Mental Health Day 2017 - Mental health in the workplace.

Mental health awareness has been gaining a lot of traction over the past few years. More and more celebrities are coming forward to talk about their own battles helping to fight the stigma. Yet somehow, we still seem a long way off. 

In a survey, conducted by the Royal College of Psychiatrists, 86% of people believe they should see a consultant if they have cancer, the numbers of those who believe specialist treatment is needed for mental illnesses are significantly lower. Just 59% of people think that those with an eating disorder should be referred to a specialist, while only 44% of people thought alcoholism might require psychiatric attention. Additionally, 42% of people did not know that a psychiatrist is responsible for diagnoses of bipolar disorder. This proves that we need better education in regards to mental health.

According to statistics; 1 in 6 people in the last week experienced a common mental health problem. 7.8% of people in Britain meet the criteria for the diagnosis of anxiety and depression. Between 4 and 10% of people will experience depression in their lifetime. Mixed anxiety and depression have been estimated to cause one-fifth of days lost from work in the country. One person in fifteen has made a suicide attempt at some point in their life. Suicide is the most common cause of death for men aged 20 to 49 in England and Wales. 75% of the suicides in Great Britain in 2016 were male. Those are terrifying figures. 

This year’s theme, if you will, for World Mental Health Day is Mental health in the workplace. Each year, 70 million working days are lost due to poor mental health. Mental Health First Aid provides training for the workplace. There are also plenty of other resources available. 

According to the Mental Health Foundation, – More than 65 per cent of employees feel scared, embarrassed or unable to speak to their employer about mental health concerns. More than a third of men reported feeling worried or low, but said their close friends and relatives were unaware of their struggle. Half of all people with perinatal mental health problems are not identified or treated, which costs the UK more than £8billion per year. More than half of all UK adults said they would not employ someone with depression even if they were the best candidate for the job. The UK has the forth highest rate of antidepressant prescriptions in Europe, with 50million written every year. Nearly 15% of people experience mental health problems in the workplace. Women in full-time employment are nearly twice as likely to have a common mental health problem as full-time employed men. Almost 13% of all sickness absence days in the UK can be attributed to mental health conditions. Better mental health support in workplaces could save £8 billion a year for UK businesses.

I am 32 years of age. Soon to be 33. I have the mindset of a child insofar as I love to explore the world and discover new things. I also have a habit of picking things apart and questioning things. The child within me is absolutely insatiable and perpetually curious. I have a habit of needing to go places I have been expressly forbidden from going and I like to dig through the dirt for treasure. These child-like traits I have described apply both literally and metaphorically. As an adult, I acknowledge that society has certain expectations of me and follow some of them accordingly.

As a human being, I have absolutely no desire to stand out from the crowd yet I am incapable of blending in. I am an artist at my very core and elicit great joy from creating things. I have no preferred medium as such but writing has been a recurring outlet throughout my existence. 

I have an atypical brain as was determined by a number of medical professionals based on some arbitrary definitions that fluctuate in a manner that appears random and inconsistent. Each medical professional has imposed upon me a series of diagnoses based on a superficial assessment controlled entirely by me. Each professional came into contact with me at different parts of my life so therefore observed variations of my outer self according to my situation in the moment. Make of that what you will.

Interestingly, despite the fact that each medical professional had access to slight variations of only a sliver of my being, there were repetitions that eventually became imprinted on my psyche. Based on my own independent research and my unrestricted knowledge of my self, I am inclined to accept these diagnoses as they align with the most problematic areas of my whole self with very few, if any, discrepancies. 

What is it like to live with a mental health issue? This is such a complicated question and the answer will vary from one person to the next. For me it is everything and nothing all at once. It is pure unfettered joy. It is deep, dark emptiness. It is a love so vast it threatens to consume me daily. It is a loneliness so pervasive that even when I'm surrounded by those who love me, I feel alone. 

My mental health issues give me so much drive and desire and passion. It also causes me to shut down mentally, emotionally and even physically. I love deeply, unquestionably, painfully. I also hurt. More than you could ever imagine from a physical perspective. 

I am a contradiction. Incongruous. A tangled web of uncertainty. I don’t know who I’m going to be from one day to the next. I am also predictable. Obvious. I have a well worn routine for the most part.

Every day is a battle against myself. Some days, that battle is for my survival. Other days for my demise.

I have no idea what life without a mental health issue is like. I’ve struggled for as long as I can remember. Some days are better than others and I can go weeks or even months without so much as a blip. However, most recently I have found myself in crisis after crisis. This year alone I have felt suicidal and been close to suicide more times than in my entire life and my addiction issues have skyrocketed. I work in a high-stress job. Unfortunately, owing to outdated rules, I have to keep quiet about my mental health. However, working is what keeps me the most sane, much the same as 86% of people who responded to research carried out by the Mental Health Foundation.

Recently an anonymous individual said that I talk too much about my mental health. That hurt. You wouldn’t tell a cancer survivor to stop talking about cancer. You wouldn’t tell a diabetic to stop talking about diabetes. So why is it ok to tell someone who suffers mental health issues to stop talking about mental health?

In talking about mental health, I have literally saved lives. Including my own. I have had strangers thank me for the things that I write. I have had friends than me for talking so openly. People are able to read my posts and start talking about their own struggles. Shutting me down is only adding to the stigma and shame I face every day. Most people I know have never seen me have a full breakdown. They have only ever seen the tip of the iceberg. Even my partner of 2 and a half years, who has lived with me for a year, has not seen the dark ugly demons that come out. Again, recently I have lost friends because of my mental health issues. Very few people message me to “check in”and even fewer ask me to hang out outside of my social scene which has contributed to and exacerbated my mental health issues. 

Until people stop flinching, rolling their eyes and looking uncomfortable when I talk about mental health, I will keep talking.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

"You’re such an amazing person!"

I am told on an almost daily basis “Oh you’re such an amazing person!”. This bothers the shit out of me. Like, REALLY makes me super uncomfortable. Weird right? I don't know, maybe. I mean, compliments in general make me feel icky. There seems to be some sort of overhanging social transaction type thing where Person A says something nice and uplifting to Person B and Person B is supposed to return the favour or show gratitude for the nicety. Why? I mean, if you think someone’s hair looks pretty, great. Let them know. They might thank you, they might agree with you, they might ignore you entirely. That’s their choice. Obviously, it’s unpleasant to be ignored when you do good shit but if you NEED to have your goodness acknowledged then guess what? You’re not really that good! 

I do good stuff. I know that. I don’t want applause. It’d be great if the person who received from me could then pass it on to another but I don’t get to dictate what someone else should do. 

Here are some good things I have done in the past and why I did them:

I sent £10 worth of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream to my best friend in all the world. Why did I do this? I did this because I love this woman more than any other human being in the entire world and she is one of the very few people I would literally take a bullet for. I did this because she asked and I was able. She showed exceptional gratitude towards me. She posted about it on Facebook because it made her feel so happy. That’s great. I wouldn’t have been bothered had she just taken the order, ate it with a grin on her face and said nothing because that’s not why I did it. I did it because I could. 

I donated a sum of money to a show. Why did I do this? I didn’t exactly have the money going spare as such (no money is really spare for me). I did it because the producer of this show is one of the most passionate people I have ever come across in my entire life. They have faced many adversities in the time I have known them, all of which were undeserved, and they have taken them in their stride. I did it because I have seen this person so utterly broken and bereft by the way society behaves. I did it because I believe in this person so damn much and if I could have given more, I would have.  I did it because I know that the money will go way further than I could even imagine and that pleases me. I did it because I could.

I went to Calais to help sort refugee aid in the warehouse. Why did I do this? I did this because I know what it’s like to have nothing. I know what it’s like to escape from my home with just the clothes on my back. I did it because I have felt the fear in my bones that I might not be alive tomorrow. I have never felt any of those things to the same extent as someone fleeing their war ravaged country but I have felt them. I did it because I could.

I made a box for someone struggling with their mental health. The box contains items designed to help them come to terms with their illness and manage it effectively. Why did I do this? I did this because I know what it is like to fumble through life not knowing what the HECK is happening. I did it because I know how hard it is to understand that all brains function in different ways. I did it because I know how utterly soul destroying it feels to have no one to turn to when it is so dark you cant see your own hand an inch from your face. I did it because seeing this person suffer causes me physical pain. I did it because I could.

I helped out a friend who needed someone to take her little one to school for a week, bring them home and make them dinner. Why did I do this? I did it because she needed someone. I did it because at the time, I had no job, no money and no happiness. I did it because that is what I do for a living. I did it because I could. 

I sat and had a conversation with a homeless man on Christmas Eve. It was cold and miserable. He was sat in the subway with his dog. Why did I do this? I did this because everyone else walked by pretending they didn’t see him. I did this because I could see the desperate need for connection in his eyes. I did it because I could.

I stopped a guy beating the shit out of his girlfriend and took the beating for myself. Why did I do this? I did this because I was her once and no one took my beating. I did this because her screams for help cut me to my soul. I did this because I knew if he punched her one more time he could have easily killed her. I did it because I could. 

I decided not to help an ex boyfriend’s new girlfriend get a rape conviction for a rape he didn’t commit. He raped me but he didn’t rape her. I could have seen him go to prison. I could have had the last laugh but I didn’t. Why did I do this? I did it because that is not how justice works. Having someone falsely imprisoned for a rape they didn’t commit wouldn’t erase the pain and hurt he caused me. People tell me “well he WAS a rapist”. Yes he was but him serving time for a rape he didn’t commit so that he could atone for a rape he did commit is not justice. It was my personal choice to not report the things he did to me. I did it because I could.

I have written this blog for 7 years now. It has been read the world over. I have received hundreds of messages of gratitude. Why do I do this? I do it because it helps me process my own confusing world. I do it because I know that there are more people out there trying to make sense of their own confusing worlds. I do it so that others with similar feelings know that they're not alone. I do it because I can.

Am I a good person? Sure. Sometimes. Am I an amazing person? No, not really. 

Good should be the default setting for people. I do things because I can. There are many other things I could do but they are simply not possible because I don't have the time/money/resources. I don’t consider any of my actions above as amazing. Not even slightly. I did these things because they were the right thing to do. I did these things because I had the time/money/resources to do them. That’s not amazing, that’s just decent.

When people tell me how amazing my actions are, it saddens me. It saddens me because people have such low expectations of one another. It saddens me because people often have the time/money/resources to do things for others, they simply choose not to. It saddens me because I know the person that I am and I know the bad things that I have done. I don't want anything in return for doing things that I am capable of.

If more people did good things because they could, the world would be a much nicer place for us all to live in.

Do good stuff because you can!

Sunday, 10 September 2017

“You look so happy in all of your pictures!”

Which of these pictures makes you think I need help? 

Most people will say the ones where I am crying. You can see my hurt and pain quite clearly. The twisted agony is quite obvious. I’m suicidal in both of these pictures right? Yes. What about the other two pictures? I’m smiling. I look nice. Hair and makeup done. I’m not suicidal in either of these pictures right? Wrong! I am suicidal in all of those pictures. In fact, in most of my pictures I’m feeling suicidal or thinking about suicide. 

I have something called suicidal ideation. I have written about this previously. It is essentially a state of mind where the though of ending my own life is never too far away. That’s just how my brain works. The last psychiatrist I saw told me I was a “high suicide risk”. This did not come as a shock to me. I am well aware of that fact. More recently, thoughts of suicide have been far more intrusive owing to a set of circumstances I am not yet ready to talk about. 

I have attempted suicide. From memory, I have attempted at least 4 times. Each time was different insofar as there were different reasons for my attempt. 

Suicide is not so much about wanting to die, more about not wanting to live. Not wanting to be suffering an indescribable pain. Not wanting to be a burden to those who love you most. 

According to the World Health Organisation, 800,000 people die by suicide every year. Men are more likely to complete suicide and women are more likely to attempt suicide. There are also racial disparities in suicide. American Indians, Alaskan Natives and white men are the highest risk. Asian and Pacific Islanders have the lowest suicide rates for men and African Americans have the lowest rates for women. 

There are often no warning signs that a person is going to complete suicide. As a person who has been suicidal for more of my life than not, I can guarantee that there are not many people who actually know or realise that behind my smile there are continuous thoughts of suicide. 

Suicide is a global issue. We have a responsibility to all our fellow humans to know and understand that suicide does not discriminate. Some of the happiest people you see may be battling dark demons under the surface. 

This World Suicide Prevention Day I want people to know that you can help prevent suicide. If someone wants to talk to you about feeling suicidal, let them talk. I know it is scary, but just listening can make all the difference. I have spoken to friends myself who have talked about ending their own lives and even though I fight the same demons on a daily basis, I still feel out of my depth when trying to help someone else. 

According to statistics, between 50% and 75% of people who attempt suicide talk about their suicidal thoughts beforehand. That still leaves between 25% and 50% of people who show no “warning” signs at all.  

The biggest risk factor for completing suicide is having made a previous attempt. Around 90% of people who complete suicide have a diagnosed mental health condition. Substance abuse and a family history of suicide also increases the risk. Those who have experienced childhood trauma or display impulsive aggression are also more likely to complete suicide.

You can help prevent suicide by engaging in conversation with a person who you may feel is at risk. There are many online resources available with advice on how to broach the conversation. 

Just know that if, after trying to help a person, they still complete suicide, it is not your fault. As noted above, between 25% and 50% of individuals who complete suicide show no warning signs. 

Knowing that someone cares is the biggest help for me. Having someone just drop me a message asking how I am can keep my demons at bay.

Suicide should not be a taboo subject. Even if we are not suicidal ourselves, we should still openly talk about it to help reduce the stigma. We should also avoid creating our own conclusions as to why a person completed suicide. 

When discussing suicide with a person who may be at risk, it is also important to consider how you are feeling.  Are you ready to talk to someone who may well tell you they want to take their own life? Are you prepared? Do you have resources available to support yourself and the individual at risk? Is the timing right? 

You can find a number of blogs that I have written in relation to suicide:

How to save a life - The aftermath of reaching out to a person on the edge. 
World Suicide Prevention Day 2016 - Last year's writeup 
MENtal Health - A blog focusing on male suicide victims
Depression Does Not Discriminate - A blog following the suicide of Robin Williams
Lost in the System - A blog following the death of Kevin Boyle 
Unbearable Pain- A blog following the death of Gary Speed

Resources available:

AFSP - American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
CALM The campaign against living miserably

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Open Letter

Hi world,

I'd love to have a moment of your time if I may?

You see, you judged me today when I limped onto the tube with a stick and needed a seat but walked off normally when it got to my stop.

You called me thirsty, slutty, a whore, a tramp… a whole manner of disparaging names when you saw me out on a cold evening in just a dress.

You told people I was an attention seeker, a psycho, a fucking lunatic when you noticed the purple and silver scars on my legs. You pulled your children closer to you, shielded their eyes, changed seats. 

You whispered behind my back saying I was full of shit when I told you I only had two hours of sleep last night. Apparently there’s “no way” I could be an insomniac without looking like a zombie.

You said I was fat and disgusting when I wore a vest top and hot pants on a hot day. You told me I should stop eating and maybe try exercising instead of being so “fucking lazy”. You said it was my fault and the fault of fat cunts like me that the NHS is suffering.

You took “sneaky” pictures of my armpit hair whilst I held the handrail above my head. You showed it to your mate and you both made disgusted faces and then laughed.

You yelled at me. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” But this is just rhetorical isn’t it? You don’t actually want to know what’s wrong. You don’t really care. You just wan to make yourself feel better by dragging me down. That’s how you get your kicks. That’s why you’re so buoyed, why your ego is so huge… you think you’re better than me. Than people like me. People different to you.

We are very different you and I. That is certain. For starters, I wouldn’t dream of dragging someone through the mud just to make myself feel better. That’s just mean! I also wouldn’t judge a person based on their appearance. There’s no sense in that. 

Before you go dragging anyone else down so you can feel better about yourself, understand something about me:

I need to walk with a stick and sit down on the tube sometimes. You see, I have a chronic pain condition. Everything hurts. Always. Some days I can manage the pain just fine. However, days like today, when I limped onto the tube and sat in the disabled seat, my back was REALLY hurting. The kind of pain that makes you want to vomit. Also, my knee was hurting. You see, it tends to dislocate at will. The last time it dislocated, I had to force it back so hard that I am left with a dull ache in my knee that becomes a screaming pain when it gets cold. Sitting down even for two stops can give me enough time to recenter myself so I can continue the rest of my journey.

I wore a dress. This is kind of a big deal for me. It was cold according to the mercury. I didn’t wear a coat. You see, I have this issue with my hypothalamus. This is the part of your brain that helps maintain homeostasis. It regulates your body temperature. Mine doesn’t work. My thermostat is permanently stuck on sub-saharan desert. I am always hot. Sounds great doesn’t it? I live in England. It’s always cold. High body temperature must be great right? Wrong! High body temperature leads to excessive perspiration. This makes me dehydrated a lot. I have had head a headache since about 1995! It also means that I can’t dress appropriately for the weather. When I wear too many layers I feel suffocated. It’s horrible. Typically I wear jeans and t shirt every day. That is my “workwear”. I hate it. I wish I could wear shorts sometimes but you see, I have scars. 

Scars. Big fat silvery scars. Long narrow purple scars. Criss crossing my thighs. A reminder that I wasn’t good enough then and that I’m still not good enough now. Self inflicted scars. Sustained in battle. Against myself. Since the beginning of my memory. Maybe even further back. I know how they look. I see them every single day. Sometimes I trace them with my fingers. Hearing the screams of my trauma. Occasionally, I trace them and smile. I smile because I am still here. I am still alive. I am not the kind of person to hurt anyone. Not on purpose. Just myself.

I’m fat. Yes, I know this. I’m fat because I’m in pain. Not the other way around. Walking hurts. Standing hurts. Sitting hurts. My shoulders dislocate more and more these days. Sometimes I’m carrying something heavy and I hear that distinctive pop. Other times, it happens when I am sleeping! Imagine trying to exercise. Constantly in pain. Random joints dislocating. Having to monitor my breathing. My posture. My joints. Trying to push through that pain barrier without causing long term injury. I know that I’m fat. What I didn’t know was this excluded me from wearing shorts, dresses, crop tops… I have been to the doctors. A rarity for “fat cunts” like me. They can’t really do anything for me. I can take medication but that may exacerbate my brain fog. It will make me tired. Listless. Numb. 

My armpits are hairy. My legs are hairy. My *gasp* private parts are hairy. Why? Is it because I’m a feminist? Is it because I’m too fat to reach everywhere? No. Whilst I AM a feminist and fat, these are not my reasons for being hairy. My main reason for being hairy is simple, I don’t care. My other reason is that reaching around to shave various body parts is a struggle. The last time I shaved my pits, I dislocated my shoulder, slipping with the razor and almost losing a nipple! No “beauty standard” is worth that or any other level of pain!

I know that you aren’t really interested in what is “wrong” but I want to tell you anyway. In addition to the above mentioned issues, I also have poor mental health. I have Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, Generalised Anxiety Disorder, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Insomnia… amongst other things. I also have Autistic Spectrum Disorder. These things combined make it incredibly difficult for me to be around people. Especially new people. Socialising is one of the most terrifying and exhausting things I can do. I sleep between 4 and 6 hours a night. When I do sleep, it isn’t restful. It’s difficult for me to find a comfortable sleeping position. Sleeping on my back affects my breathing. Sleeping on my side makes body parts go numb. Sleeping on my front is impossible with such an ample chest! I'm used to sleeping so badly. My body has adjusted.

Despite all of these struggles, I get up every day and go to work. I work long hours. I rarely take sick days. I don’t complain. I maintain friendships to the best of my ability. I am a loving and devoted partner as well. Yet you brand me. Label me. Judge me. Write me off. All because I don’t fit your image requirements. I am a human being. I have feelings. You don’t need to know my story to show me basic human decency. You should do that anyway! 

There are many other obstacles I face every single day but I think this is enough education for now! I owe you nothing! 

Stop holding your fellow humans to impossible standards and just live your own life! We are all fighting battles no one else knows about.

I don't want your applause. I don't need it. Waking up and surviving another day is all the applause I need.

Thanks for listening.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Is this the real life?

It has been three years since my all time favourite clown left us. In that time, we have seen many other celebrities open up about their struggles. Some have been applauded whilst others have been torn to shreds.

Trigger warning - suicide\rape

➡ 1 in 4 of us will suffer depression in our lifetime.
➡ Suicide rates in UK females are the highest they have been in a decade.
➡ Suicide rates in the UK have increased by 3.8% since 2014.
➡ Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 50 in the UK.

➡ Approximately 85,000 women and 12,000 men are raped in England and Wales alone every year; that's roughly 11 rapes (of adults alone) every hour.
➡ Nearly half a million adults are sexually assaulted in England and Wales each year.
➡ 1 in 5 women aged 16 - 59 has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of 16.
➡ Only around 15% of those who experience sexual violence choose to report to the police
➡ Approximately 90% of those who are raped know the perpetrator prior to the offence.
➡ A third of people believe women who flirt are partially responsible for being raped
➡ Conviction rates for rape are far lower than other crimes, with only 5.7% of reported rape cases ending in a conviction for the perpetrator.

I have tried being more vocal about my mental health and struggles only to be shut down with questions like:

"Do you really think people need to hear that you think about suicide so often?" Actually, yes. I think it is imperative that those who claim to love me know this about me. In great detail.

"Do you have to talk about mental health so much?" Yes. Yes I do. Because mental illness is a daily struggle for myself and millions of others. If I can empower just one other person to be ok with not being ok then it is a job well done.

"Why do you keep telling people you were raped? That's private." IS IT? IS IT REALLY?! You're actually wrong. Sex and intimacy are private. Between consenting adults. Rape is a crime. Keeping silent skews the statistics. Keeping silent keeps me a victim. Keeping silent exacerbates my pain. That is not worth it. Not even for the comfort of those I love the most. I would rather you feel uncomfortable than I suffer in silence.

"It makes me/others feel uncomfortable to see these posts. Could you maybe change your settings so I don't have to see them?" FUCK NO! Not a fucking chance! I will provide trigger warnings where necessary but I will not customise my news feed to shield you from the reality of my world. If you don't like it, unfriend me!

I am an addict.
I am a rape survivor.
I am a domestic abuse survivor.
I have pretty severe physical disabilities.
I have pretty severe psychological illnesses

This is my reality. This is the reality for millions of us. I helped save the life of at least one person thanks to the existence pf a mental health group. I have saved the lives of others by talking openly about my struggles. Every day that I am alive I am saving my own life. This is my reality.

If that bothers you, go fuck yourself!

"No matter what anybody tells you, words and ideas can change the world."

Tuesday, 18 July 2017


Sometimes affirmations are helpful to me, other times not so much. At the moment I am really struggling thought and seeing something positive will sometimes lift my spirits if only a little bit.

I have a life coach who is truly magnificent in so many ways and she uses positive affirmations daily and encourages others to do so. I already had a poster on the back of my door to my flat (So I see it evert time I leave) with little notes from friends who have been to my flat. Although, because I'm not so good at letting too many people into my sanctuary I don't have many... but they are on ADORABLE heart shaped post-its (Stationery Nerd Alert!). Anyway, I lost my thread thinking about stationery...! With the encouragement of my life coach I now have other messages posted around my sanctuary in prominent places such as on my bathroom mirror, above light switches, on my front door  handle and a badass message on my whiteboard on my kitchen cupboard!

I have decided to add a collection of affirmations below along with a link directly to the image. Copy this link and paste it into the "Homepage" box on your web browser settings and when you open up your web browser, your affirmation will be on the screen. You can also add the link to new tabs and new windows in your browser settings.  (A quick Google search will tell you how to access your browser settings.)

I will add more to this list as and when. If you have any custom artwork that might help others, please do drop me an email with an image and the link. Please note that links will be checked before being shared to the best of my ability however The Bipolar Kid cannot accept responsibility for content found on others' websites.

Link: http://tinyurl.com/yb6ch4yc

Link: http://tinyurl.com/yakc66tc

Link: http://tinyurl.com/ybbe66sj

Link: http://tinyurl.com/yalzw7fo

Link: http://tinyurl.com/ya7u9omp

Link: http://tinyurl.com/y8a4yh3k

Link: http://tinyurl.com/ybwyjtv4

Link: http://tinyurl.com/ycdr7m3b

Link: http://tinyurl.com/ycppu2hg

If any of these images belong to someone and they have not been correctly credited, please do drop me a note in the comments section. I will try my best to use royalty free images or credit the owner of the imaged.

Monday, 22 May 2017

Trigger warning: Suicide

There are many lists floating around the internet of signs to look out for to help prevent suicide. There are also many lists telling you what you can do. The truth of the matter is, there often aren't any signs. How many articles have you read about a person who died by suicide that include the phrase "we had no idea they were struggling"?

Suicide does not come with a warning sign. People contemplating suicide often won't talk about it. In fact, they may appear to be the happiest person you know. 

Furthermore, you are NOT obliged to help someone in distress. I have spoken at length about this because it needs to be said. You are not responsible for anyone's life but your own and your offspring. There is no "right thing" to do. I hear it all the time, people saying "If only I had checked in more often..." or "I should have invited them out..." etc. People with mental health issues are experts at hiding their struggles. They have to be. I know that this may be a difficult pill to swallow but suicide is often not planned, it can be spontaneous and sometimes accidental. 

Just over a year ago, someone I went to school with completed suicide. She had struggled with her mental health and she had been failed by the system. She had been hospitalised on numerous occasions having attempted to complete suicide and she was not given the care she so desperately needed.

If you really want to help prevent deaths by suicide, contact your local MPs. Demand to know what they are doing to increase support for vulnerable people. If you get nothing from your local MP, take it further. Write to the prime minister herself, the address is freely available on the internet. Volunteer for mental health charities. Funding is being reduced left, right and centre and volunteer run services are struggling.

If someone close to you does die by suicide, it is important that you do not shoulder the blame.

If you wish to share this, please do so.

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Here comes Ranty McRantFace

Here comes Ranty McRantFace...

Boat moving has been exhausting today. I've been the lock keeper through 11 locks and the sun has been beaming down on us. Of course, some people love the sun. I hate it! When we got to about lock number 8 I laid on the grass because my back was hurting (yay fibro) and I was exhausted. A passer by remarked how it was a "nice day for it". I told him I preferred the rain and his response was "Ha, well it takes all sorts!" I was really fucking angry at this remark but too exhausted to reply.

People are constantly telling me how "lucky" I am that I don't feel the cold. They also (bizarrely) tell me that I make them feel cold when I don't wear a coat.

Let me tell you a little something about me;

I have a defective hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is in charge of maintaining homeostasis throughout the body. In other words, it is responsible for regulating a lot of functions in the body. One of the functions it is supposed to maintain is body temperature.  Because my hypothalamus doesn't work properly, I cannot naturally regulate my body temperature and so my body is constantly stuck on saharan desert! As soon as the mercury goes above 11° my body stops functioning properly. I sweat profusely which means I'm constantly dehydrated, always have headaches and am typically VERY cranky.

I know that not many people know that about me and that is why I'm putting this out there. However, there is no need to denigrate someome if they don't fit within your ideals.

Just think before you speak!

If you have any questions, just ask, I don't bite.


Friday, 7 April 2017

World Health Day

Today marks World Health Day.

According to the World Health Organisation, depression is now the leading cause of illness and disability worldwide.  This fact does not shock me in the slightest.  However, according to a study conducted in the Eastern part of Germany, despite an increase in mental health literacy amongst the general public, they still prefer to distance themselves from people with major depression and schizophrenia. Education is key!

Theresa May announced that there would be mental health support in our schools, workplaces and communities. However, this is not the first time the government has made promises to improve education and support.

Over 90% of individuals who complete suicide had diagnosed mental health issues. There is not enough being done to help those who are struggling.  Suicide is the second largest cause of death in 15-29 year olds.

According to Disability News Service, more than 220 member groups of mental health networks have closed in two years. These groups are user led and volunteer run.

Very soon, the mental health centre in Stoke Newington will be closing due to extortionate rent hikes.  Patients and GPs had not been made aware of this.

£800m that was set aside to assist NHS mental health services has allegedly been sacrificed in order to "balance the books" of the NHS.

The NHS is still struggling to improve services available to youngsters.

In Canada, 85% of homeless youths are struggling with mental health issues.

Globally, mental health is given lower priority and fewer resources compared to physical health.

75 million people in India suffer from mental health issues yet the psychiatrist to patient ratio is 1:343,000.

Benefits assessors are being told to discriminate against those suffering with mental health issues.

People are talking more about mental health which is wonderful. However, with the stigma still attached and the lack of funding around the world, this global epidemic does not look set to change for a very long time.

How can you help?

Mind lists a number of resources available for those supporting someone with a mental health issue.

Educate yourself on mental health issues. Don't bother with sensationalist media. Read journal articles. There are many available for free online. Read personal blogs. Join groups on Facebook.

Become an ally.

Stop the stigma.

Raise your voice out loud. Petition your government. Lend an ear to someone in need.

If we stop fighting, things will only get worse. Now is the time to stand up and be counted.

Tuesday, 4 April 2017

Survivor Shaming (Victim Blaming) CONTENT WARNING

I read an article today in the Metro pertaining to a survivor of the Rotherham Sex Gangs and her son. As I often do, I decided to also read the comments (WHY DO I DO THIS?!) and engaged in a conversation with one particular commenter.

Below you will see the conversation. I have redacted names and comments from others.

THEM: She was in love with him? WTF?
It's all wrong but political correctness lead by the Labour Gov't extended the abuse by these gangs long after it should have ended.
At 14/15 I would hope that most girls could distinguish between love and abuse.
She aborted once but then got pregnant soon after then admits she thought they were in LOVE?
That says it all.

ME: If you have never been in that position you have no idea what it is like!

THEM: That's true but that's my opinion. Also the critique about the Labour Gov't is fact as the inquiry showed.
When I was that age I was studying for my O Grades and working straight after school every night as were my sisters. We had no time for that.

ME: I didn't disagree about the government involvement/corruption but your opinion on how she ought to have realised it wasn't love is incredibly damaging to survivors of this kind of abuse.

THEM: I don't see it as damaging if other young girls realise that grooming isn't love if they see this discussion here or somewhere else and it makes sense.
I'm not blaming the victims for this, I'm highlighting that fact that they believed that grooming was love and continued abusive relationships like this.I wonder how much of her reasoning is based on the need to ameliorate the circumstances under which the son was born to make him (son) and herself feel better.

ME: She was a child! You say you are not victim blaming yet you are also suggesting that she should have known better. As a survivor of abuse, I know first hand how abusers can grind you down. It isn't easy for a person to see outside of their own situation in cases like these. Your thoughts are not your own. No person willingly enters into an abusive relationship.

THEM: She should have been warned about the grooming gangs by her parents. From what I've learned from the inquiry many parents of victims tried to warn their kids but couldn't stop them going out and getting abused. How much was due to child like innocence and how much due to stupidity?

ME: Or rather how much was due do dangerous and manipulative individuals?

THEM: I would guess if all these girls were at home studying and watching tv then none of this would have taken place on the scale it did. As a father of a daughter the same age I can guarantee she will never be groomed or fall into an abusive relationship. I warned her from an early age the dangers of grooming. She has told me of every incidence of paedophiles and other idiots approaching her on social media and real life and I've reported them to CEOP and the Met.

ME: I was abused as a young teen and then got involved in an abusive relationship as a young adult. Is that my own fault? I am above average in intellect and by your logic you would think having been through it once I would be able to avoid it again in the future right? Abusers don't wear signs. They look the same as everyone else. They manipulate a person into believing their lies. I suggest you look up gaslighting. As I said earlier, until you have been through it, you have no idea.

THEM: I will reply to this when I get back in the house.


THEM: I am very aware of the results of sexual, physical and mental abuse. I have dealt with the fallout of abuse of close friends and family and none of them described it as love which is the point I was making. Just because you suffered during your younger years doesn't mean that you have to keep reliving that life and keep suffering.

ME: Second hand knowledge is no where near the same as first hand experience.
I was too young in the first instance to realise what my abuser was doing and how wrong it was. He had me convinced that if I told anyone then I would be blamed.
In the second instance, I truly was in love with my abuser. I believed him every time he said he wouldn't do it again. My heart broke every time he wept an apology. I wanted to believe that he wouldn't do it again. Every time. For two years.
Predators are unlike "ordinary" people. They live to manipulate and control and they are very good at it.

THEM: I get what you're saying, I do. I was told by a psychiatrist that people who've suffered that kind of abuse shouldn't tell their loved ones about it, by that I mean new partners and new friends because they can't help change the past and it leads to breakdowns in relationships and that's what I tell my close friends that have been through it. You owe it to yourself to learn from it and control the hurt it's caused and live a better life. That could mean steering your kids and friends away from the same malevolent people and behaviour. That's not meant to be patronising but I can't say it any other way. I feel sad for this lady in the story and I wasn't intentionally insulting her.

ME: I'm not sure who this psychiatrist was but they are incredibly wrong and probably ought to not be practicing! Talking about these sorts of things help to raise awareness.
I talk about my own abusive past in an attempt to help other survivors know that they are not alone. 

When you say "they can't help change the past" I don't get what you mean by that. The past is gone and can never be changed. Telling new friends/partners about my own abuse has never lead to a breakdown of the relationship.

Of course you ought to learn from past mistakes but as I stated earlier, predators are unlike "ordinary" people. They appear to be like everyone else on the outside and sometimes it can take many years to realise what they are doing/have done. You can educate as much as you like but these people can subvert even the most intelligent individuals. I know this because it has happened to me.
I had no doubt that you were not intentionally insulting this lady but words cause more damage than the intent behind them. You can do aboslutely everything in your power to protect those you love but sometimes it's just not enough. Sometimes the predators are simply too smart.

Victim blaming (or as I prefer to call it, survivor shaming) is absolutely everywhere. Practially all rape/abuse cases are reported with a sort of bias towards the survivor. What were they wearing? How much did they drink? What did they do to provoke it? etc. I'm sure you've seen it in the media. It happens too in the courtrooms.
As decent human beings, we ought to do our best to not shame the survivor. Sometimes that means we have to be really careful with the words that we use. I'm not at all having a go, just giving you the facts as a survivor of more than one incident. 

I will add to this if any more is said.

This is classic survivor shaming (victim blaming). I wanted to break down his responses and highlight exactly how he is survivor shaming but I just don't have enough spoons!
This person doesn't see their comments as damaging. Of course not. It's so much easier to blame the survivor. Why? 

Survivor shaming is not unique to rape survivors. Those who are bullied are questioned. People living in poverty are seen as lazy good-for-nothings. People with mental health issues are often blamed for having bad lifestyle choices (drunk/drugs etc). The list goes on. People even blame themselves when shit things happen to them!  

It's easy to blame the survivor for inviting these things into their own lives. If they truly were innocent then that means that BAD things happen to GOOD people and that just doesn't happen right RIGHT?? 

This is one of the reasons I struggle with "self help" stuff and NLP. These types of things often out the onus of the struggles onto the individual. I'm sure you've heard before "You get out what you put in" or "The universe can only return what you send out". This kind of thinking is also dangerous and destructive! 

The world can be an unsafe place, it is for many. It can also be unjust. I consider myself to be a good person. I've had many people tell me that they think I'm selfless or I do amazing things for those less fortunate than I. 

If the universe returned what I had sent out then surely by now I'm due some real good fortune? Instead I'm trying my damnedest to keep my head above water.

I don't think that the universe is out to get me. I know that I'm probably a bit too sensitive. I see a lot more than your average individual. Being so open leaves me open to the bad things as well as the good. 

People often say that one person can't change the world. They're wrong. One person could inspire someone else who in turn could inspire 10 more people and so on.
Instead of blaming people for the situation that they are in, why not see how you can help them change that situation?

One by one we can all change the world!