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Category: News

News

PASSIONATE ABOUT IMPROVING LIVES

Suicide Prevention  

One of the founding principles of the Dorset Community Mental Health Alliance (DCMHA) is to tackle the tragic rate of suicide in Dorset. Every suicide in our community is a tragedy – for the life that is lost, for the family, friends and loved ones and for the ripple effect that each has on our society. 

All 38 organisations that belong to the DCMHA are dedicated to doing everything in their power to make a difference and to bring that number down. 

What are we doing to help? 

Firstly, we have made sure that everyone knows where to signpost someone in crisis, or who says they are having suicidal thoughts. If someone comes to any of us with a life-or-death crisis the right course of action is to call 999 or signpost them to The Samaritans or NHS Connection – a 24/7 FREE helpline. 

But we don’t want our responsibility to end there. 

  • The DCMHA has made suicide prevention training a key target this autumn. We’re taking part in a pilot project being run by our partners at Public Health Dorset (PHD) and we hope to roll out that training to as many members as possible between now and Christmas. Every member has already received a link for online training from Public Health England and Zero Suicide Alliance. 
  • We are learning lessons from the life-saving Real-Time Surveillance work that is being done by Public Health Dorset. This is helping our conversations about how we can come together to prevent more suicides with data that is current and relevant (the data we were working on last year was more than two years old). 
  • We are talking to the inspirational Alice Hendy, who set up R;pple Suicide Prevention in the wake of her brother Josh’s suicide late last year. R;pple is an online monitoring tool designed to flash a message of hope and support to anyone who searches harmful keywords or phrases on the PC. It takes a few minutes to get any PC protected. For more details, visit R;pple Suicide Prevention 
  • We are developing a blueprint for a Suicide Prevention Strategy, with the help of Bournemouth University and Dorset Healthcare NHS Trust, which will help members to ensure they have a framework in place, both for staff and volunteers, to prevent suicide from within their own organisations and for their service users, clients and participants. 
  • We are looking at ways for our members to help colleagues within the CCG and Public Health find solutions for people who repeatedly present to emergency services because they have attempted to take their own lives. This is a complex and ongoing project potentially involving a lot of different organisations from the NHS, Local Authorities, Police, GPs and the Voluntary Sector.  

It’s worth saying that every tragic life lost costs the country around £1.5M, so although the human cost is more important, there is a financial cost too.

Our other work 

Health Inequality Mental health inequalities are deeply rooted in our Society. We are supporting Community Action Network (CAN), Dorset Community Action (DCA) and Dorset Race Equality Council (DREC) with a Health Equality Partnership Project. The project has been commissioned by PHD and the NHS’s Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), to gather community insights and identify any areas of hidden health inequality that people with enduring mental health, learning disabilities and ethnic minority groups face. 

We’re sure our members can provide insight and help the project to engage with people with lived experience and find out the barriers they are facing when using preventative health services, including mental health. 

NHS Reforms We’ve also been discussing how best we can work with the new Integrated Care System’s Mental Health Programme Board (MHPB), which comes into force in April next year as part of a raft of NHS Reforms. We will work with the MHPB to ensure the provision of mental health services in the county meets everyone’s needs. 

Community Mental Health Transformation Members are also keen to support the work of the Mental Health Integrated Community Care Project (MHICC). This project recognises that primary and community mental health services can’t always meet everyone’s needs and so large scale ‘transformation’ of these services is necessary. So we have been discussing how the Voluntary Sector, and in particular our members, can contribute to the success of this ambitious programme of work. For more details go to dorsetccg.nhs.uk/cmh/  

If you want to join us, please contact Nick Rowe at  nick.rowe@dorsetmind.uk or fill out the form dcmha.uk/join/  on this site. 

Dorset Community Mental Health Alliance – Working together for Dorset’s wellbeing. 

 

News

HOW DOES COUNSELLING WORK?

At Relate Dorset and South Wiltshire, we are here to help. 

Whether you are having problems with a relationship or you’d just like to understand your partner/family/friends better, talking things through with one of our counsellors can make a real difference. 

The counselling we offer is for everyone.  Whether you’re married, single, young, old, living together or apart, straight or gay, we can help you strengthen your relationships and help with other issues such as anxiety or depression.  Counselling offers a caring, confidential and supportive environment in which you can examine problems and think about ways to address them.  

The first step is to arrange an initial appointment to discuss what the issues are that you need help with.  This gives you the chance to see if counselling is for you and us the chance to make sure we are the best people to help you.   

From there, if everyone agrees, ongoing appointments can be arranged with either the same counsellor or a new one who will be briefed on what was discussed at the initial appointment.  Once you start ongoing appointments with a counsellor, you will stay with that counsellor.  There is no set number of appointments you must have – that is up to you and your counsellor to agree as you go along – but six-eight sessions are common. 

Appointments last between 45 – 50 minutes and can take place either face-to-face, via webcam, or over the phone, depending on your circumstances and what works best for you.   

Our counsellors offer appointments on a range of days and times, so hopefully, there will be something that works for you.  

Our friendly team of administrators are the contact point outside of appointments and will take you through the process described above and book all the appointments, talking through availability and costs with you. 

For more information about Relate Dorset and South Wiltshire, visit  https://www.relate.org.uk/dorset-south-wiltshire  

News

A GENUINE DESIRE TO HELP

Wendy Thompson is Senior Practitioner at BCHA’s new Community Front Room (CFR) in Weymouth. In her blog, Wendy shares her passion for supporting people with their mental health issues and the positive strategies she uses.  

Community Front Rooms are a new service, which form part of Dorset HealthCare’s Access Mental Health initiative, which provides drop-in support to anyone over the age of 18 requiring support with their mental health. CFRs are open Thursday to Sunday, from 3.15 pm – 10.45 pm.  

“My role involves engaging with the customers who attend our sessions, as well as working closely with other agencies in the community, working together to help deliver the message that help is available and no referral is required – people can call us or just drop in (from Thursday 17 June 2021). 

“We have a team of peer specialists and mental health recovery workers, who are all kind and compassionate people, willing to go the extra mile to support people.  

“We recognise that while mental health illness can be complex, we are committed to normalising it in the same way that our physical health is regarded. We need to acknowledge and recognise that at times we may all require support and there is no shame in that.  

“Sometimes it can be difficult talking to those closest to us as we feel we are burdening them, so talking to someone neutral really helps. We are able to give people a safe space to visit and talk or just be in the company of others to engage in activities that can offer distraction and connection. 

“My favourite part of this role is having the autonomy to be creative in the delivery of the service and being able to make a difference in the lives of others.  

“Fundamentally, I can be myself and draw upon my own previous work and life experience to make a difference in my own local community.  

“I started my working life over 20 years ago as a very anxious single mum. But by being given the opportunity to volunteer at a local drug and alcohol agency I was able build my confidence and gain employment as a Substance Misuse Recovery worker and to work within the community and the criminal justice system.  

“More recently I moved over to working within mental health. If someone had told me years ago that I would be doing what I’m doing now I honestly would never have believed them. What I love about my job, is that now I can support people in the same way I was supported and share with people strategies that can support their wellbeing, confidence and self-esteem. 

“I have contact every day with customers and other agencies. Throughout the pandemic, we made use of virtual support through the attend anywhere provision.  

“COVID has been hard for us all in different ways, leaving us with feelings of isolation, as well as with financial issues, while juggling home working and childcare. We’ve had to work through relationship breakdowns and bereavement, so having the opportunity to talk is so valuable as otherwise we can just be left with our own thoughts, which can be a very lonely place to be.  

“Through a genuine desire to help, as well as the ability to listen with kindness and friendliness, I can help people see things from a different perspective and find a way forward. This may include referral to connect with activities within the local community and/or referral to more specialised support. 

“What excites me most about my job is connecting with a vast array of people in the community. I give people hope when they or their loved ones are struggling.  

“I am passionate about breaking down the stigma and shame surrounding mental health issues and helping people to understand that we all have mental health worries.  

“I hope to be able to promote a better understanding of what the symptoms are that people are struggling with and to ensure that they have a safe place to visit, whether it’s to request support for their own wellbeing or to seek advice about how to support a colleague, loved one or friend.” 

Further information about the Community Front Rooms is available on the Dorset HealthCare Access Mental Health website: https://www.dorsethealthcare.nhs.uk/access-mental-health  

News

IMPROVING LIVES IN DORSET

It has been great to be part of the Dorset Disability Equality Forum, and work alongside like-minded people who are committed to improving experiences for local people with disabilities, and those visiting the area.  

It’s really important to have opportunities to collaborate and develop solutions, as everyone has something to contribute – this has been very clear with the work alongside Dorset Council’s updated taxi policy, where both physical health and mental health considerations were identified. 

We’ve been working with the Forum to better support our patients, staff and local communities, inviting some of our staff networks and patient groups to information sessions to learn more about the Forum’s purpose and ambitions.  

With many links throughout the county and beyond, working with the Dorset Disability Equality Forum allows us to meet local people who may access our services, and empower our colleagues who can constructively contribute to the important topics discussed. 

Harry Coburn,   

Equality, Diversity & Inclusion Practitioner, Dorset Healthcare University NHS Foundation Trust 

 

News

How walking changed my life

18 months ago, I was hospitalised with a respiratory illness. This alongside a barrage of other issues at that point in time, lead to me suffering with symptoms of poor mental health. Stress, exhaustion, low mood and thoughts of hopelessness and worthlessness impacted work, social life, home and every part of my existence. I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder, clinical depression and PTSD. Although I was prescribed medication and treatment nothing seemed to help.

The first lock down and the fear of catching Covid was a wake-up call, and I realised something had to change.

Something had to change

I had never been a particularly active person or even an outdoors person, but I started going for short daily walks. Initially at first to try and build back up my physical wellbeing, as the respiratory illness had left me feeling weak and fatigued. 

I decided to participate in the 2.6 Challenge in April, walking 26 miles in seven days. I investigated local nature spots within one hour walking distance of my home. 

With stunning sun rises, ducklings, baby lambs and the blossoming of flowers it felt like I was experiencing the beauty of spring for the first time. Even the wind and rain felt more refreshing. I found myself looking forward to daily walks and the sights I would see. 

The benefits of being outside and exercising really was helping to improve my mental wellbeing. After all it is very hard to feel sad when you are watching three fluffy baby geese with their Mum and Dad waddling around Poole Park. 

Over time I have challenged myself to walk longer distances and explore parks and nature reserves further afield. 

The benefits of switching off and walking

Being outside away from technology and the stresses of life has become a purpose, the more time I spend walking in nature the more I am able to switch off and the better I feel. This has become a definite positive for helping to manage the challenges and boundaries of working from home. 

I have also discovered that thinking about worries felt easier while I was walking. What may seem like the biggest catastrophe at home/work compared to the enormity of nature and the beauty outside somehow didn’t feel as significant. This has helped me re-frame my thoughts. I would often start a walk feeling very tense and sometimes crying my eyes out, but by the end I would feel calmer and more able to process stress and face problems. 

Interestingly, walking has also become a gauge as to where my mental health is at. I know that if I am struggling to leave the house to walk, or if I walk and I don’t feel better at the end of it, that this is a sign that my mental health has dipped. This may mean I am just tired and need to rest. But it could also be that I need to reach out for professional support. 

Having a goal helps 

Taking part in Dorset Mind challenges has helped me connect with others and share the joy of walking in nature. Through the winter Step-up Challenge, I participated with my son. He was living and walking in London, and I was walking in Dorset. Every day throughout the challenge we would share photos and experiences of walking with each other. This helped us to feel more connected too, even though we couldn’t be together. 

I know that initially I was dubious when people said going for a walk can improve your mental health. But if you are struggling, I highly recommend giving it a try. 

The power of walking in nature really has improved my mental health and changed my life. 

Special thanks to…

This article was written by our anonymous blogger – you know who you are, thank you. 

For Mental Health Awareness Week this year, the theme has been nature. We’ve been asking staff, volunteers and our friends to write blogs and share how nature has impacted them. 

Light on: IG post
News

New campaign shines a light on mental health to tackle stigma and change the way men talk

A life-changing campaign – Light On – is launching across Dorset to tackle the stigma of talking about mental distress and emotional struggle, particularly among men.

A network of organisations including local businesses, the NHS, Public Health Dorset and Bournemouth University, have joined forces to build mental wellbeing together and put an end to men dealing with mental health difficulties alone and in the dark.

It urges men to go beyond the banter and talk openly about how they are feeling and whether they are coping.

The campaign aims to train champions and ambassadors to spread the message across the whole of Dorset reaching men where they work, exercise, socialise and live.

Businesses, individuals, charities and sports clubs will be encouraged to join the campaign as it gains momentum to share the message to ‘turn your light on’ and give permission to someone to have a conversation about mental health challenges.

Andrew Coleman, Founder of Light On, said: “It is time to put an end to the silent struggle among men because of the taboo and stigma about talking when you’re not coping very well.

“This silence is leading to pain, suffering and suicide – and it has to stop.

“This campaign will save people’s lives because it will make it OK for people to have a conversation and ask for help.

“It will transform the way Dorset people, men in particular, deal with mental health and mental health difficulty.

“We want as many people as possible to share our message and to get involved.

“We must create such a loud voice between us that everyone knows how to have a conversation about seeking and receiving help.

“We want thousands of people to ‘turn their Light On’ with us.”

Andrew is one of a group of men who met through the charity Dorset Mind and wanted to do more to help other men who may be struggling.

All have personal experience of the difficulties and damage caused by mental health problems, with many of them losing friends or colleagues to suicide.

Ty Temel, Owner of Halo Bournemouth, pictured left, said: “A year ago we started talking about how we could stop this wave of distress amongst men in Dorset that is leading some to take their own lives.

“It’s great that this campaign is coming to fruition – as the start of a larger piece of work.

“There are so many of us who have lain awake at 3am wondering how much longer we can cope and not knowing where to turn.

“We wanted to create a campaign that showed people that it’s OK to talk, it’s OK to say you’re not coping well and it’s OK to get help.

“If people show that they have their ‘Light On’ then others will know that they’re someone to talk to, who will listen.

“That, in turn, will shine a light on this issue and bring it out of the shadows.”

Also leading the campaign is Craig Mathie, pictured right, Managing Director of Bournemouth 7s Festival, and – as is Ty – an Ambassador for Dorset Mind.

The Light On campaign was built using research from panels of men across Dorset who came together to share how they felt about talking about mental health.

They helped to shape the campaign’s focus on making sure that men knew how to talk as well as when to talk.

As a result, local businesses, clubs, charities and individuals will be offered training and workshops to train people in the basics of mental wellbeing in later phases of the campaign.

Importantly, they will be encouraged to have courageous conversations that go beyond everyday banter.

Marianne Storey, CEO at Dorset Mind, pictured left, said: “This is such a vital campaign for people in Dorset, particularly at this time as we recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Even more people than ever are struggling with mental distress and it is essential that we create a county that is open and compassionate about talking about it.

“I believe that Light On is going to save lives.

“If enough people get involved and turn their ‘Lights On’ then more people can come forward and ask for help.

“And if we all play our own vital role in this campaign then we can all contribute to preventing distress and ultimately suicide.

“We must not give up until everyone has the help they need.”

Dee Swinton, Dorset Mind’s Income Generation and Marketing Manager, pictured right, said: “The Light On initiative has been launched as a response to a growing awareness of mental health issues, especially among men.

“A survey by Mind charity found that one in eight men in the UK admit to suffering from mental health problems, while suicide is the leading cause of death for men under 45.

“At Dorset Mind we are determined to tackle these statistics alongside our partners and change the situation for men in Dorset.”

A survey is also being carried out in conjunction with Bournemouth University to find out what a greater number of men in Dorset feel about their mental health – and what might be stopping them seeking help.

The findings will be used to help the Light On team further develop their campaign.

It’s set to run for five years across Dorset and is expected to reach hundreds of thousands of people.

Already 24 businesses and organisations, including Osprey, AFC Bournemouth and both BCP and Dorset councils, are partners and organisers are expecting many more to sign up online as word spreads across communities and workplaces.

more information please visit lightonMH.uk

News

Questioning Myself – My LBGTI+ Journey

I first realised I probably wasn’t straight when I was 14 or 15. I first started experiencing mental health issues when I was around 10.

For me, the two have gone together for longer than I can remember.

Questioning Myself

For me, I started trying to work out who I was, as well as witnessing a lot of homophobia at school. Seeing how much hetero-normality is embedded in our society it’s no surprise that the personal and social impacts on LGBT+ people lead to higher rates of anxiety, depression, self-harm and suicide. I was isolated, didn’t have any friends or social life and was in my own, not very healthy mind. To be honest, I had no idea really who I was, or what I was. I didn’t feel like I knew what my personality was and I experienced suicidal thoughts often. I catastrophized as I failed to imagine my future, let alone working out how I felt about other people.

Years later, I learnt that I’d been dissociating. Everything had been too traumatic for my mind to handle and so I shut it down. Simple. Except, every so often the monsters would takeover and I didn’t know how to stop them. I’d spent my life running away from feelings, so when my feelings came I just ran harder. The rest of my teenage years went past in a bit of a blur.

I got good grades at school despite attendance being an issue and there were tiny signs of improvement when I moved to Sixth Form. I fancied one of my tutors, loved my subjects and the feeling of liberation of being able to come and go out of college; I learnt to drive and would drive myself back between lessons. I dressed how I wanted and started to choose what I ate. I discovered dance and exercise. And I made small steps away from the child who had been so unhappy towards someone who felt a long way off adult. But who had some control over their life.

Questioning my sexuality

For years I didn’t really think about my sexuality. But when I did, it felt like a problem that I couldn’t really define but was desperate to fix. I’d go through periods of obsessing about it, researching in infinite detail like a forensic investigator trying to work out what I was. Growing up, there weren’t the labels there are now, and I had no idea that others felt how I felt, or that I was just as valid as anyone else. Sometimes I fancied women, sometimes I fancied men but I rarely wanted to do anything with either of them! A massive turning point for me came when I was 21. I’d been dominated by crippling anxiety, OCD, depression, experiences of PTSD and dissociation for more than a decade. My tentative first steps into the world had been totally dictated by my having leant to keep the demons happy.

The turning point

I found a job that I loved and looking back at those years, I can see the same threads that defined that job through every job that I’ve done since and are important values and give me my sense of fulfilment. My boss was inspirational (who also happened to be very attractive) and played a large, if inadvertent part, in helping me realise that my sexuality was fluid and that’s absolutely fine. I started to find things I was good at, things that I enjoyed and that made me feel good about myself…sometimes. I met people, learnt new skills and gained opportunities.

Fast forward a few years and I eventually got myself a diagnosis. It sounds so cliched but it was like the missing piece of the jigsaw. I had all these experiences, from OCD, hypomania, acute anxiety, depression and finally there was a name that bought together lots of my experiences. It was like putting on a pair of glasses; I could see the world for the first time. There had been milestones in my life up until that point: like getting that job, like finding a good therapist, like starting to build my networks. But it was getting that diagnosis that now, looking back, everything really pivots back to.

Recovery

See, it was through that diagnosis that I was put in touch with the Recovery Education Centre. I started learning about my mental health and began gaining tools to manage it. I met people from different backgrounds, who were at different points in their life but we all had experience of mental health. Some of those people became great friends and that was like unlocking a door for me. My life to date had been defined by loneliness and isolation. Now I had an opportunity to be “normal”, whatever normal is and to enjoy being with people. It was magical, it was free and I was just being me – I’d finally started to discover who I was.

I remember once though, being out with a friend. They were straight, I wasn’t. But we were both comfortable being draped around each other in public but other people weren’t. And so I had my first direct experience of LGBT+ hate with some people muttering at us as we walked past. It shook me but it didn’t shake my sense of who I am. I’m queer. A label that was used to hate LGBT+ people for decades. Many in the community still reject it for that reason but for me, it captures that I don’t really fit into any particular box. Sometimes I’d say I was gay, other times bi or pan, demi, or greysexual. I’m attracted to people, I love queer/platonic relationships and intimacy but I’m aromantic and asexual.

Not just another woolly label

The Recovery Education Centre didn’t only help me find people like me, not did it only give me skills. through blending peer specialism, where people with lived experience of mental health share their stories and coping strategies with clinical specialists. It’s made recovery a real, touchable concept. Not just another woolly label in your journey slapped on by the people with no experience of what living day-to-day with mental health is like.

The more that I’ve learnt about my mental health and ways of managing it, the more I’ve been able to find out who I am. It’s like building a tower block, brick by brick: gradually, I’ve been adding one brick at a time and every so often I’ve completed a whole level. But it wasn’t until November last year… in the middle of the pandemic… when I was able to see my tower block. I hadn’t been well, although I hadn’t realised quite how unwell, for the first few months of last year; Although I was being discharged from a service, I couldn’t let go. I was clinging on to my therapist, to not having to face my feelings on my own and I ended up hitting self-destruct. I reached a point though, where I could see the self-destruction and all my building blocks lined up.

Finding myself…

I’d been doing more group work, talking to others with mental health issues and doing some professional development too. Suddenly a jumble of muddled up body parts was starting to morph into something resembling a proper, marker-penned body map. All of those tools, all of the learning I’d done over the years, the people I’d met, the support I had, everything lined up. And I chose November, in the middle of the pandemic, to find myself. To know who I was, what I wanted to be and how I was going to do it and you know what? I went ahead and did it.

And for me it starts with these 3 things:

  1. Breathing – grounding myself through techniques like Breathing Square, 7/11 breathing or a Breathing Space meditation;
  2. Looking up at the sky – it’s so easy to look down or to not really see anything in front of you. Just tipping your head back and looking at what’s above the trees instantly grounds me and fills me with hope; And finally…
  3. Time – our minds are the best special effects artists, making our feelings and demons seem much scarier that they really are. Allowing myself time to be with my feelings, understand them and be comfortable with them has helped me realise this.

I’ve had the best few months of mental health since then that I’ve had in a long time. Different aspects of my life combine to give me my sense of wellbeing. From fitness, to fun, fulfilment to pride. They’re all working together. I’m funny, I’m loving, I’m passionate, I’m proud of myself and of what I’m achieving.

Excited about the future

There’s still a long way to go. But I’m no longer stopping myself looking ahead at the journey in front of me. I have a sense of being propelled forward into my future by the excitement of what I’m accomplishing. And a sense that I can do this! I even asked a girl out the other day and got a “maybe”. It wasn’t a “no”, and even if it had been, that would have been ok because I tried! The demons probably won’t ever go away. But now I bring them along for the ride, I don’t let them dictate to me any more.
So, this LGBT+ History Month my message to you is this: find your values, find what makes you you and the right people will find you. Whatever your sexual orientation, whatever your gender identity: be proud, because you’re fabulous. And for the mental health, remember: you’re the best friend you could ever have.

LGBT+ Support locally:

If you are a member of the LGBTQ+ community and need support with your mental health, we deliver two support groups in Bournemouth and Weymouth. Follow this link for details.

Huge thanks to our guest blogger, who wishes to remain anonymous.

News

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

News

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

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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