Global community a review 12 months on

Global community a review 12 months on

I wrote the following post on the the 14th June 2015 and I do not think I can add much to it. In the past 12 months my Twitter family has grown massively and I feel so much pride and privilege in being a part of such a wonderful community. Mental health is a massive concern, it is interesting to see that in the past year it has become very prominent in the media. The sad fact still remains that those that suffer from mental health problems, from the mild to the severe are still not receiving the care and treatment that they should.

I have always been passionate about doing more than just talking about mental health, and to some extent I feel guilty that I have not spoken out more. I still pursue the dream of finding a way to offer help to those in need, even if it is just simple skills training and a support network. Despite my own problems, I will continue to work hard towards this end, in fact I have a renewed drive to do so.

All that is left to say is a massive thank you to all those who have supported me this past year, all my followers on Twitter (and the few who follow me on Facebook lol). The wonderful people who read this blog and take the time to comment and pass it on. You are all amazing and I often wonder where I would be without you.

Thank you

David

Finding support to help you is critical in facing your mental health problems. While the poor NHS is stretched to breaking point,it is up to us sufferers and those who care to help and encourage each other. It is amazing how much support I have got from messages from family, friends and colleges. But the truly amazing thing is the support I have from people I have never met from all corners of the globe. Social media has helped build me a brilliant support community and has given me the opportunity to support and encourage others in return. I feel truly honoured to be a part of this community and hope that it continues to grow, bringing others into the fold to offer them our support and for them to feel the great sense of value that comes from supporting others.

I am also grateful to all the wonderful charities and forums out there that provide help, support and information to sufferers. Without these, many of us would be much more alone and ill-informed. They campaign for us, increasing awareness of mental illness and most of all be there when we need them. Finally I would like to thank all those professional therapists, doctors and other medical professionals who are active on social media offering support and help in their own time. The biggest cause of stigma in mental health is the fear within sufferers to admit they have a problem, I have experienced no stigma since I have opened up about my problems. Some people have admitted they have no idea what it means or even that they can’t imagine how it feels but they have all shown support.

So I would like to offer my heartfelt thanks to every one of you, and ask that you spread the word far and wide because on each of your friends lists you would be surprised have many people are suffering in silence. So tell them to find me @davesoapbox on Twitter, Davesoapbox on Facebook, tumblr and Pinterest and I will add them and let them see that there is a world full of understanding, empathy and compassion just waiting for them.

Reflection on the past “Cat kindness”

Reflection on the past “Cat kindness”

I wrote this post “Cat kindness” one year ago, at a time when I was in a very bad place. It has taken a lot for me to pluck up the courage to even open this blog, never mind decide to read what I wrote back then. I guess I am lucky, I picked a relatively easy post to reflect upon. I did not choose it, other than by date, although I realise writing this that I am a day out, but in my head it is still the 13th so we shall have to live with it lol.

First of all I would like to say that my relationship with my cat remains strong, in fact we now live together. Having separated from my partner not long after the original post was written I was lucky to keep the cat. She has become a very important part of my life, although it has been pointed out to me that I am more of a butler to her than an owner.

It is surprising how she is probably the best ‘person’ to be able to gauge my mood, she seems to know when I am feeling down, she has ┬álistened to more of my problems than anyone else, although she is very Freudian in that she just lets me talk and never replies.

As to the change in my personal character I still try to maintain the more relaxed easy-going attitude and up until recently this has been quite easy. I have enjoyed being a more open and (hopefully) considerate person, however where I thought that one year on I would be able to feel more positive about myself, I have to admit that I do not. Maybe I have allowed my mind to dwell too much on the past, maybe I should have faced what I wrote earlier. Or maybe I have been a fool and actually had my head buried in the sand this last year? Anyway, I will change one thing that I wrote back then.

Whilst I must accept that medication did have an effect on my emotions back then, and I suppose they still do as I am still taking them.I also believe that I have made a lot of effort into managing my emotions better. I still struggle with the stronger emotions but I have learned and developed coping skills to enable me to be much less reliant on medication and more on my own ability to deal with intense emotional situations. I know that medication is not for everyone, I also know that I am very lucky to have such a good GP. In my experience the medication has helped, but I know that the medication is just the baseline. I have had to learn a lot about dealing with my thoughts and emotions, I now rely on my own ability to be my own ‘therapist’ and dampen down problem thoughts and emotions by using skills other than medication.

I have had to face some quite challenging things especially since christmas. The epilepsy I suffered in my 20’s that caused me a lot of mental problems for many years just from one instance has returned. I have now had four seizures since christmas, one of which happened when I was alone in the middle of London. I have had to surrender my driving license and now have a car I have barely driven ready for sale. I may never have always had a car but this is the first time since the 90s that I have not had a license. This has obviously put a bit more pressure on my life, especially as I live in a rural area, but that is not the worst part of it.

Thankfully I have now been put on medication (more pills) that seems to be controlling things, but I still can’t escape the feeling that it might still happen again? I have had to cancel two holidays because my GP has advised that I do not fly until I have seen a neurologist but the waiting list for emergency epilepsy appointments is 28 weeks. The worst though is that I keep reminding myself that just because it isn’t happening, does not mean that it will not happen. If you can imagine how someone who has spent time learning how to handle anxiety and depression (BPD but I will never get a formal diagnosis because the MHT decided that a diagnosis was best left to my GP) and now has to handle this whole new anxiety is feeling, that’s me.

The hardest part of the previous post to read is the last part, even writing about it has slowed to single key strokes;

At the moment I live each day trying to keep myself together, seeing through different eyes hour by hour. I haven’t even got a clue who I am and more so scared stiff that once the medication stops I will return to my previous self and I don’t even know if I liked that person, never mind where I went to. You see my cat likes me, she even seems to sense when I need her and I want that to continue. I want everyone to be like my cat and I just need to know how.

I hope having read what I have written now and then reading what I wrote 12 months ago will give you an idea of why I still struggle to see positive change. I still spend every day trying to keep myself together, I still do not know who I am. I am still scared stiff and very alone. However I do still have my cat, so while people say “you have done so much”, “you have come such a long way”. The truth is that whilst I may have learned to manage my mental health a bit better, I am still far from well and still need people like my cat.

An old foe comes visiting

An old foe comes visiting

 

For those of you who have followed me for some time, you will be aware that once, many years ago, I was diagnosed with epilepsy. Now, I am talking twenty odd years and despite the mental problems I created for myself over the years, I have had no symptoms or problems since. Well, that was up until Yesterday, Saturday 19th March.

Before explaining yesterday I must mention something that did happen a few weeks prior. Whilst walking around London, I started to have vision problems. It was as if somebody had cut sections out of my ‘memory film’, I would look at something and next thing I knew it was a completely different perspective. Hard to describe but it was rather strange and made me feel a tad disoriented.

Anyway I put the above incident down to possibly low blood sugar or something, and after a ten minute sit down and a coffee I felt fine. The incident was pushed to the back of my mind and I continued my happy, stress free (to a degree) life. I guess looking back I did not want to remember it, of course epilepsy went through my head, but not now, not when I am picking myself back up.

Anyway, this week was the start of my final week of classroom study for my CBH qualification, one I have very much been looking forward to. Friday went fine, Friday night I went to the cinema and everything was fine. Saturday I struggled a bit in the morning, I thought I was just tired and looked forward to going out to get something to eat at lunchtime. When I went, I went alone, which is not normal but did not bother me. I was interested to have a look in a second-hand bookshop I knew to be on the way, so whilst feeling a bit ‘tired’ I went for food.

I remember getting food, coming out, I started on a snack bar I had bought as I was feeling a bit strange. I also remember going into the book store but I was finding it hard to concentrate on the books, but I bought two and proceeded on my way, eating the half a snack bar I had put in my pocket.

Then I started having the vision problems again, just like before, like someone was editing what I was seeing, cutting bits out so that it all became confusing. I knew there was a bench down the road, so I aimed for that, hoping a sit down would clear things, I remember the bench had a plaque on it, I remember no more.

The next thing I know I am sat in the back of an ambulance with two rather concerned looked medics. They are trying to get my contact information, someone they can inform, but the med alert card I made for myself, and carried in my wallet had an error on it. How I do not know, I have looked at it hundreds of times but never noticed the EMS contact phone number was wrong! Anyway, as I came around more I was able to give them better information and next thing I really know is that I am in hospital.

My treatment was amazing, the porters, nurses, doctors and ambulance staff were incredible. I have always been a supporter of the NHS, and when I have needed them they have been there, even the limited mental health care.I blame myself for not paying attention to my body, not keeping updated and correct contact details, and for worrying my family and friends. It just proves to me more, that there are things we, as people, can do to help the EMS do their job.

Learning to live with my problems

Learning to live with my problems

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I am who I am, everything that I have done in my life has contributed to make me. When you find out that you are living with any form of illness, it can very easily change your perception of your self and your life. I know it did for me. Long before I even considered that I might have had a mental illness I was diagnosed with photo sensitive epilepsy, it ruined my life.

Or rather I should say, I let it ruin my life. I saw this diagnosis as being the end of everything, epilepsy, I foresaw a life of medication, fits and being different. I even felt ashamed of it, I hid it and hid from it. I also went out of my way to prove I did not have it, not by being sensible, I went off the rails instead. Drink, drugs, standing in nightclubs staring at strobe lighting, daring the epilepsy to get me. I let it consume me.

Factor this in to my present but unknown mental problems and I was seriously putting myself in danger. I was out of control, I hated myself so much that nothing bad that happened to me was ever bad enough. On the other hand, good things were to be destroyed. It was to be twenty five hard years before I would see the light, twenty five years of destruction. All because of an undiagnosed illness and the stigma I felt about a diagnosed one.

I labelled myself defective, I saw only the negatives and amplified them in my mind. I hated myself and the world for letting this happen to me, common sense did not apply. I was damaged, broken, a reject. I took this and hid it at the core of my being, I created another me, based on lies who the world would see. The lies and the hatred, the pain and despair only going on to feed my other illness, eating away at everything I did, proving to myself how pathetic I was.

The stigma of epilepsy feed my mental illness well, I can see that now. My illness already had made me insecure about myself and how I related to others. I needed reassurance that I was normal, I had value, that I was lovable. The epilepsy diagnosis made these things much more important, I did not know how to feel and then I did not want to feel anything. It is no wonder so many people disliked me, I went out of my way to be disliked. If nobody was close to me then I was right about hating myself, if I treated people badly then I must be a bad person.

Finally learning to accept that I have two illnesses, that can feed of each other was not easy. However finding out that I have a personality disorder helped. It explained why I acted how I did, although I do not blame the illness for my actions. I accept responsibility for my actions, with the mitigation that I was ill. I do not hide my illnesses, I live with them, I try hard to live in harmony with them.

When people say I am looking good, I feel good about myself. I know that often how I appear on the outside is often better than I feel on the inside. I like to think that if I make the effort to look better on the outside, it is a projection of how I want to be on the inside. Instead of lying about who I am, I now show the world who I want to be. I do not consider myself as any form of role model, far from it, but I do hope that people will judge me for who I am not what I have.

I used to worry that if I did not look ill, people would think me a fraud. People seem to have this perception of what being ill is, this includes those with the illness. I want to prove to myself that I can live with my illnesses, that I can be the person I want to be. I want to be able to correct people when they say “you look great, so glad you got over your problems”, with “I am feeling great, I learned to live with my problems”.