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Stories

Better LGBTI+ Lives

I was asked to join the Dorset Equality LGBTI+ Forum in January.

As an LGBTI+ and Queer Affirmative Therapist and ally, I was delighted to be invited to become a part of something that can potentially challenge the health inequalities that LGBTI+ people experience throughout Dorset.

Having met with other therapists in the area, I wanted to meet other LGBTI+ organisations locally to learn from their expertise along with utilising referral pathways to improve the wellbeing outcomes for my private practice clients.

The Forum provides an opportunity to plug into a wider community, gain expertise from it, and work together to collectively address the physical and mental health and wellbeing disparities that LGBTI+ people face. Often, they result from privileged ignorance, lack of education and awareness but also at times, conscious, deliberate, and wilful discrimination.

The Forum provides an opportunity to educate and raise awareness of how heteronormative and CIS normative practices and assumptions filter through into wider society including service delivery and employment provision, which at best, fails to meet the needs of LGBTI+ people or worse, actually causes them harm.

While it’s early days the aspirational hope is that we can begin to understand with greater clarity the specific factors that are preventing LGBTI+ people and communities locally, from experiencing greater mental-health and wellbeing outcomes while identifying and sharing the collective steps, measures, service development, improvement, and delivery.

Finally, we know that discrimination, hate crime, bullying, harassment, and their consequences impact greatly on LGBTI+ people’s mental health and would like to learn and developing ways to improve things. An example of this could include campaigning for the improvement of Gender Identity Services that are so sorely lacking for adults and young people where in some cases people are waiting for years for their initial appointment.

Stories

Children at Mosaic

Mosaic is a Dorset wide charity offering a pathway of support to bereaved children, young people and their families. 

Stories

Fran’s Story

“The Lantern Trust in Weymouth transformed my life. When I first came here, my life was in ruins and 18 months later, I feel I’ve recovered. I needed to tell my story and talking to people made a huge difference.”

Fran was advised to seek help from Lantern when his life began to unravel. His sister died from cancer, he was involved in a car accident and had quarrelled with his psychiatrist. He is Bipolar and suffers from manic psychosis, but with the right treatment and the right support he is now stable.

Click here to hear his story.

Please be aware you might find Fran’s film upsetting. If you need support please go to dcmha.uk/need-urgent-help/

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Kim’s Story

I was a six-year-old, no different from my classmates I thought. I cried when my ice cream fell to the ground, I couldn’t sleep a week before my birthday and I always tried to stay awake until my eyes betrayed me.

The realisation that I was different, didn’t come until I became involved in the world of mental health care. Of course, I noticed that no one showed up to my birthday parties, mothers were muttering that I was traumatising their children and teachers were pulling me out of class because they were worried. But I didn’t realise it was abnormal – that none of this was happening to my classmates. I was an innocent six-year-old girl, looking at the world through rose-tinted glasses with her big green puppy eyes.

My mum wasn’t a bad person; she loved watching Disney movies with me, doing my hair and cooking, but she also drank a lot, walked the streets naked and was brought to the hospital every other week. My dad had left us months earlier because he could no longer cope with her behavior, so I ended up alone with her, in a small town of 6000 people, where everyone knew what was happening behind closed doors.

A lonely childhood

When I finally saw a psychologist six years later, I realised my life wasn’t healthy, but bystanders did the most significant damage. Instead of being compassionate, they damaged me more. If something happened at school, I was the first one they blamed. If I talked about things happening at home, mums came to school yelling at me. Whenever my mum ended up in hospital with an overdose, I heard other mums whisper about her.

My childhood was lonely and painful, but It didn’t stop me from looking at the world as a magical place where dreams come true and you could be anything you want, as long as you kept believing. My mum tried to give me a good childhood, but she didn’t have the tools to do so; she needed help, but there was none. She was in so much emotional pain that she had to lean on me. At home I was the caretaker, at school I was ‘that problem child’. There was no one I could turn to for help, but my childish mind kept believing that things would turn out fine someday.

A painful realisation

The worst memory I have, is the day my mum passed away. I was in the supermarket, and two women were talking, saying how happy they were that my mum finally died. My mum may have manipulated me, lied to me and damaged me, but she was still my mum. She was a pain sometimes, but she was still a human being – one with a horrible past herself. If people only had tried to help her, instead of judging her, she might have stood a chance.

I spent the next two years in a mental health ward. The psychiatrist diagnosed me with complex post-traumatic stress due to years of neglect, psychological abuse and stress.
Many years later I came to the understanding that my mum suffered from bipolar disorder,  but instead of helping her, she became a pun for a bad joke. She was the town crazy and I was her ‘just as crazy’ daughter. Nobody saw our good qualities. My mum and I were placed in the ‘crazy’ box with no chance of getting out.

I’m now 27-years-old and no longer live in my hometown, but I still have nightmares. My view of the world is no longer rose-tinted, if anything I see the world as an ugly place, where not even a child is safe from harm. I hope that the next time people see a ‘problem’ child, they will show some compassion. Children are innocent, don’t punish them for their parents’ problems.

 

Originally from Time to Change Website

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Daniel’s Story

As a professional boxer, most people around me only see the finale – me stepping into the ring, in great physical shape and performing well under the lights and cameras. Amidst the occasion, it is easy to assume that everything is fine.

As my family and friends watch me compete, my true state of mind is not really questioned. And so, I continue to war with my ‘lower thoughts’ just as I do in the ring, alone.

To be honest, whether I was asked how I was feeling wouldn’t hold much baring as I don’t want those close to worry about my sanity or keep a watchful eye on me. I don’t want to be wrapped up in a blanket. I don’t want to be treated differently or receive sympathy. I don’t want to be a cause for concern or considered vulnerable.

Going by the reaction of the public and my peer group to when celebrities or mutual friends are struggling with their mental health, I get the impression that people expect the individual in question to be able to maintain control of their sanity systematically. An inability to do so suggests a ‘feebleness’ and a ‘failure’ to pull the strings in one’s own brain. This can be frowned upon or even mocked.

I think this is what separates mental health issues with physical health issues. If an individual had an illness that we could see, sympathy and concern would dominate our emotions. Forgive the assumption, but I believe the general population are better programmed to accept them as victims as ‘nothing’ can be done for those suffering. The outcome is out of their control. However, when it comes to mental health, sympathy and concern can be found amongst other reactions. Such as teasing, exaggerating and pouring scorn upon those affected.

I make a calculation, and I decide I want to spread positive thoughts, optimism, smiles and laughter. So, I easily ignore any notion of sharing my true feelings even if I don’t completely shut them out.

Poetry helps me express myself to myself and is very therapeutic to me, a form of release that allows me to identify with greater scrutiny what exactly the underlying issue is. I find my poetry is more honest than my conversations, hence the darker tone of my poems.

I recall telling a friend I wrote poetry as a form of therapy. The response was being labelled ‘feminine’, along with a chuckle. These comments make people go further into their shell, facing the dark alone.

I also remember as a child telling an adult I was depressed. I was told I knew nothing about depression and was dismissed, swiftly. Maybe I didn’t know what depression was at such a young age but what I did know was that I was in battle with something within that I was struggling to gain a monopoly over. I managed to get through it, but there are numerous people who do not.

Mental health can affect you, your home, upbringing, work place, child. So, don’t be quick to dismiss someone. Just like double checking you have locked the front door, do that with your fellow human being. Double check they are ok before you proceed.

It is important for people going through things to realise they are not alone. I try to treat my negative thoughts like my opponents. I can’t let them win, I refuse to accept defeat, I will persevere until I am victorious. Any previous wars with myself will only better prepare me and strengthen me for my next one.

It is a routine one-man process for me most of the time, but I am sure if I wasn’t against opening up, things would be a lot easier for me. Sometimes it is easiest for me to share with people that are not the ones closest to me, people I don’t necessarily see every day. I would rather avoid sympathy and people fussing over me. Extra attention is not my goal.

The more people that share their experiences the less people will feel isolated. Talking about mental health and building understanding could definitely save lives. My message to those struggling silently is to share it, but I can only speak for myself. 

 

Originally from Time to Change Website

News

Henry’s Story

In September 2017, I was diagnosed with clinical depression. Shocked and upset, I researched it. It became apparent to me that I’d suffered from depression for over ten years, but I’d ignored or denied it.

I began doing Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which I found helpful. The course has finished now, but I’m working hard at trying not to relapse. Before starting the course, I was suffering in a way that is difficult to describe, and I don’t want to feel that bad again. The depression caused me pain that made me cry and feel useless; the simplest things like getting up and going out of the house became difficult.

The simplest things like getting up and going out of the house became difficult.

I’ve always enjoyed exercise and playing sports. Depression stopped me doing these things, which made me feel worse. Anyone that’s been affected by depression will know that this vicious cycle can start via various means that become difficult to stop. However, after exercise, I always felt great for the next few hours; relaxed, composed and able to think with clarity about what I would do, or wanted to do next.

Without exercise, I would become anxious and fidget, but I’d also convince myself that exercise was a bad idea. I’d tell myself I needed to rest, I should stay home, if I went out I may injure myself. None of this was true, but it’s amazing how I convinced myself. I’d decide that any bad alternative would be better. Alcohol was a favourite for me, at home or the pub, while convincing myself it was the best course of action. After, I didn’t want to do anything, feeling tired and sluggish.

I always forgot how good I felt after running

I’d told my therapist that exercise made me feel better. Even though I love the gym, we concentrated on running due to its simplicity. You can do it just about anywhere, at any time, and there’s no requirement for specialist equipment. To prevent a return to my previous condition, I felt running every other day would help. I wanted to make running the better choice so that I wouldn’t go to the pub or drink at home which would leave me feeling worse.

A big frustration was I always forgot how good I felt after running, and so wouldn’t associate it with feeling settled and relaxed. Usually, a run was three to four miles, and it occurred to me that a drink in the pub was three to four pounds. I decided that if I went running I’d pay myself that money instead. For my next run I did about four miles, and I knew there was a five-pound note in my wallet. I took the note out and put it into an empty baked bean tin in the kitchen cupboard. It was my money anyway, but I’d saved five pounds by not spending it, and now it was the reward for doing something good.

During that week I ran two more times, adding various change to the tin until there was just over ten pounds. I felt like a kid, paying just over ten pounds cash into the bank, yet it felt like important money that I’d earned and deserved. Not a massive amount, but it was enough to go to the cinema, buy a book or DVD, or any small treat. Seeing that money grow was a great feeling, and I was getting the benefit of feeling relaxed and de-stressed from the running – which was the ultimate aim.

Small steps and small rewards can have a huge impact.

After the initial success, I started to get technical. I had a savings facility with my bank account that I renamed: ‘Running Money.’ Using free software on my phone, I would measure the exact distance I’d run, then pay myself the equivalent pounds and pence. If I ran 4.07 miles, I transferred four pounds and seven pence into my running account. I could do this straight after the run, and to see the amount creep up was the best feeling. I know it’s my money that I’m just moving around, but it gives the activity a further dimension and encourages me to continue. The more I do it; the more I want to do it. The more I want it; the more I save. The more I exercise; the better I feel. A virtuous cycle that is the exact opposite of the negative mindset I had before.

It might not work for everyone, but dealing with depression can be a process of finding small changes that have a positive influence. Changing your mindset and habits is empowering, but can be the most difficult, seemingly impossible, thing to do. Small steps and small rewards can have a huge impact.

 

 

Originally from Mind Website