Now don’t get me wrong, this isn’t one of those ‘woe is me’ posts. I have just been finding life difficult these past few weeks/months. Since adding the epilepsy meds to my list of
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.
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.
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 listened 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.
It is now 11:20 on the morning of the 18th of May 2016, I am writing this on a bus to London, a long journey but I must admit I enjoy it. I have time to think, to work, even to sleep, but it is not as long as the journey I have taken in the past twelve months. This time last year I was sat on the floor, facing a wall, staring at a picture of my daughter. I was in the office of a member of the local community mental health team, a man was trying to reach me. I was broken, when I spoke it was the language of hysteria. That day, I was no longer a person, I was not a father, son, lover, friend, human. I was a shell, it was not so much that I wanted to kill myself, I just could not face living.
I, today, accept my actions that day, and the days, weeks, months that followed. The guilt I have carried, the embarrassment and the shame, today, I lay them to rest. I know now that my actions that day, were the actions of self preservation, the last act of a desperate mind. I do not think that even now, a year later, I could describe how much mental damage I felt. I can only say that I knew nothing, felt nothing, I was no longer a person, I was a ghost.
I have always been able to lie, both verbally and physically. On that day there was no lies, I laid my soul out for all to see, and it was not a pretty sight. Today, I sit on the bus, wanting to write about how much I have achieved in the past year, wanting to share my fight back against mental illness. The sad truth is, I don’t think I can. There is still so much of me that is mending, others fragile, to fragile to even try to fix in fear of it breaking again. Few people will understand, unless they have been there. Looking healthy, happy and content, does not mean that I am, it means I have started to rebuild from the outside inwards.
My challenge now is how to move forward. I am training to be a therapist, yet I am still broken, who would accept help from someone who is possibly as damaged as they are?. I desperately want to strive forth into the world. Big and bold, look at me, I can help you, I want to help you. The desire is growing every day, I want it so very much, but there is a part of me that is holding me back. The part of me that fears the worst, the part of me that still sees the damage being repaired. It tells me “not yet, you are not strong enough”, “you will break yourself again, and next time you might not…….” (NB I can not even finish that sentence in writing).
Despite my conflict, I have found peace. I am mindful of the value of time, how much beauty and wonder I can find in a second. What started as a way to control my anxiety, has now become my happy place. Maybe it is because I have found this place that I am scared to move forward, what if I lose it. I have found ‘my plot’, I now need a way to bring the life that I want to me, to my ‘plot’. I can no longer afford to chase dreams, I must listen to that part of me that protects me. I must never forget what can happen if I become complacent. Every step I take from today will be towards the future that I have started to shape this past year. I will strive forth, I am ready, I think…………..
There is a great saying “opinions are like assholes, everyone has one and most are full of shit”. I like it, and being a very opinionated person (although nowhere near as bad as I used to be) it does me well to remember, am I being full of shit?. You see I, like many others, easily fall into the trap of thinking that what the other person wants to hear is my thoughts on the subject, often not the case. It is a fine line though, and it also depends on the circumstances. Let me give you two examples.
I have a friend, let us call him Mark. Mark, like many of us is travelling the road back from the dark place to more pleasant surroundings. Now Mark has found help in the form of a well-known self-help therapy that is on tv etc. Now Mark, likes it, feels it, and what is more is feeling the benefits from it. When I found out my first reaction was……. well to poo poo the idea. Yes, gasp you may, I, the person training to be a hypnotherapist, casting scorn upon another form of therapy. Okay, well here I stand, hand up, YES I AM A BLOODY HYPOCRITE. I do actually feel shamed, not just because I poo poo’d another form of therapy, but more so, that I practically rubbished it to the friend it was helping.
So that is my little example of why opinions can often be full of shit. Sometimes, (and I hope I have learned this lesson) it is best if we keep our thoughts to ourselves and not be too quick to judge. Especially when it comes to things that people find that ‘help’ them. Okay, I know what your thinking, “what if they are actually being a bit daft?”, well, I guess my answer to that is, “make sure you are there for them if it does not work out”. FYI saying “I was going to tell you but didn’t”, probably will not go down well, keep it to yourself.
My second example is slightly more serious, talking someone down. We have all, in our lives had that phonecall from a friend when the shit has hit the fan and they have had enough. Probably spent hours on the phone, talking, listening, consoling and agreeing that, yes, Tom, is a complete cockwomble and needs to be beaten with a horse whip (NB Tom is a fictional character and horse whipping is not to be condoned). The issue I want to raise is the one where, the person is not a friend, in fact, the person is someone you know next to nothing about, but, through the magic of the internet, has found you to be the one (or one of ones) to unload on.
The beauty of the internet is the anonymity that it provides. People can find it much easier to tell a complete stranger their troubles than a person they see every day. The trouble comes when those troubles are of such a magnitude, how do you cope? Take Mary for example, same as Mark, been down the road and back again so is no stranger to the darker aspects of life. Mary got talking to someone, someone who was in a bad way and like a good person, Mary tried to help. The long and the short of it being, that Mary actually felt bad for doing so. Now Mary went above and beyond to help. In my humble (and yes I am still humble from paragraph two) ‘opinion’, Mary was amazing. Mary however did not see this, she felt that possibly she had done too much, she actually felt embarrassed!
So I guess what I am trying to say, in my usual long-winded way, is that sometimes to help people you have to keep your mouth shut and just be ready if a person needs you down the line. Other times, you can never do too much, what you do might just be the thing that stops someone going the last step down the wrong road. Those that know, will know who they are, I just wish that again to one I can say I am sorry and to the other I am very proud, and that both of you are amazing.
Hello and welcome, how are you today?
I am on an up day (well it is only 9am) and I am smiling!, I am smiling because I have learned that every second of feeling okay is special. So much has been happening in my little life these past few months that keeping myself steady has been a challenge, I have had some tough things to process.
The details probably deserve a separate post, this post is more to do with this moment, and moments like it. I woke this morning feeling positive, now lets not read that as ‘I leapt out of bed, ran 5k and saved small kittens from trees’ but more like I sloth like crawled out of bed, made my ritualistic bucket of coffee, fed the cat, took my meds and checked Twitter.
I have a lot of studying to catch up on, which is the plan for today, so cat and myself will probably spend the day in the study developing new and interesting way of procrastinating, most likely with five minute checks of social media. So aside from the cat, I doubt I will see another living being today. So to the point, due to physical location (I live in a rural area), lack of easy transport (not allowed to drive) and the lifestyle of a hermit I depend on social media for social interaction. Some may say this is sad, but I get to talk to people all across the world, I have ‘met’ some amazing people and to me it is important.
I struggle to balance both my mental and physical health, it is a pain but I do it. However just keeping both of those within the parameters of ‘stable’ is not enough. I am human (have a certificate to prove it), I NEED social interaction, to feel a part of the community. I have found a global community to supplement my small (yet very good) family group and this helps me stay balanced.
I strongly believe that social health is as important as mental and physical health. It is the third corner of the ‘wellbeing’ triangle. Just as poor physical health can affect your mental health and your social life, poor mental health can likewise affect you physically and socially. Poor social interaction can affect you mentally and physically. So while my social life might just be words on a screen, those words are written by people, most of which I will never meet, but those words connect us.
So today I have found balance, and that balance is helped by people all around the world who take five minutes out of their day to connect. To them it might seem nothing more than a quick tweet, post, update, but to someone like me it can change my day. Thank you global social community, I love you all.
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.