The mental health cement mixer

The mental health cement mixer

“I have a dream………..”

Since I started blogging one of the things I have always desired is to be able to help other people. I thought training to become a therapist would be the answer, unfortunately it was not. I still wish I could complete my hypnosis training as I do believe it to be a good tool in helping people with mental health problems, but it is only one tool and not a good all around tool. They say that all hypnosis is self hypnosis, I agree, you have to want to believe in the therapy.

I think this stands for most therapies though. Bringing about change when you are suffering any kind of mental health problem, short or long term, is often more down to your willingness to accept change, and/or be in a position to enable that change. There are three forces at work in all of us, the biological or physiological, the psychological, and the social or environmental. If one of these three is off balance it can/will? Affect the others. For someone who is depressed due to financial troubles, might find that seeing a financial advisor more beneficial to their psychological well being than seeing a therapist.

But what happens when all three collide? When it happened to me, I did not have a clue what happened. In the space of several months I went from having a good job, a partner of ten years, property, but the snowball was rolling and got big enough to knock me off my feet. All aspects of my life changed, I hit the plateau hard, it has taken several years, the reading of countless books on psychology, sociology and mental health therapies, not to mention cognitive behavioural hypnotherapy training and undertaking my degree, to see things slightly more clearly.

I learned that once you have been knocked to the bottom, it is damn hard to get back up again. I have read the same thing on countless blogs and forums, people unable to work because they have lost all belief in themselves. There are also those who have been deemed unfit for work, trying to survive on benefit payments, knowing that they could work but not able to commit to a regular job. I have seen the change in people when they are. Finally able. To get back on the ladder, pride often swallowed, but just to earn, more so just to feel needed, that change seems more powerful than therapy.

Now some of you might be saying “the. Purpose of therapy is to enable people to change their perception of whatever event is causing them psychological distress and to be able to form new views of the event” (desperately worded to a) encompass the core essence of most therapies and b) address both short and long term illnesses). Yes, as I have said I do not discount the value of therapy, but, in the UK like many other countries actually getting some form of therapy is increasingly hard and often to short or out of the price range of those in need.

My biggest gripe with hypnotherapy was that not only was it mainly aimed at the breaking of habits and phobias, it was also BUSINESS. How much do you intend to charge your clients? Make sure they have enough money to pay for the full treatment, and my favourite of all ‘get the money up front’. Hell, I would.  Happily skype with someone in need, record a hypnotherapy script to help them, devise and formulate a care plan and ‘homework’ and I would do it on a donation basis! No win, no fee, seems to work for the PPI folk.

As usual I have digressed, though not far from my point, (yes, I do have a point), rather I have a question which maybe you can help answer. The question being, do you think that despite past history, past careers and education, learning a trade skill, painting, plumbing, electrics, etc and being able to do a few hours a week, where you can stand back and wipe the sweat from your brow and think “I did this”. That step (possibly into unknown territory) back into building self confidence and possibly a life changing event, coupled with an environment of peer support and mentoring, how effective do.  You think.  It would be as a form of therapy?

It is late, I have rambled, I have left you with a question to ponder. I hope that you have peace and love,

David

PS. The offer made above regarding skype,hypnosis and peer support was not a joke. If you are interested drop me an email morethandsm5@gmail.com

Mental health mentoring – How can we tame the beast within?

Mental health mentoring – How can we tame the beast within?

I remember back when I first started blogging about my struggle with mental illness I used a lot of metaphors to describe how I was feeling. The most frequent, and one that sticks in my mind even today was the mountain and the abyss. I thought of my struggle as like climbing a steep, sharp, craggy mountain, dark and imposing. It became symbolic of how I felt, desperately clawing my way up the sheer side, bloodied and battered, exhausted, desperate.

Below the mountain was a flat plain, cold and dark, lit only by a purple-red glow of the abyss. I was never alone, there were always others, faceless shadows, somber and silent. The abyss called to me, and like the others I was drawn to its edge. Silently standing there surrounded by shadows, all staring into its depths. For the abyss was the end, those who have been close to ‘the end’ know that it is very calm, almost peaceful, the decision has been made, all arguments rectified, only the final act left, to plunge oneself into the abyss for ever.

With great effort, I could turn my back on the abyss, from the desperate calm I could turn to face the mountain once again. All the fear and sadness within me was embodied in that mountain, the more I hurt inside the more the mountain grew, But I always felt that salvation lay at its summit. So I would gather what strength I had, and sometimes with the help of other shadows around me, I would start the climb, we would start the climb. And yet the abyss still called silently behind me, the offer of calm and serenity its drawing offer. I climb harder, slipping, scraping, desperation, mental blood, sweat and tears, although tears have never come to my eyes, I can no longer cry.

This was my metaphorical struggle with mental illness for a long time. Until one day, I realised that I was actually moving in the wrong direction. The mountain was my illness, the abyss the sanctuary. The more I poured out my anguish, the more I let myself be mentally ill, the more I let it rule my life, that was the brutal climb. The calm of the abyss, was not the final act, it was in fact the first act, to go into the abyss was to face an uncertain future. The calm feeling was not real, in fact in those moments, those days of resolution, the abyss was choice, to step into an uncertain future or turn and continue to fight against something that could not be beaten. I realised that I would never beat my illness, it is in me, it is there for as long as I breath. There is no route up that mountain, I was always destined to end up a crumpled heap at its feet.

I could however turn my back on it, knowing it was behind me, laughing, calling me pathetic, daring me to try fighting it again. Or I could walk silently across the plain to the edge of the abyss, and stare into the infinite darkness of the unknown, to take one step into the abyss would be and was, the taking of one step into living with the beast behind me, every step into the unknown was a stronger step, I did not know what would be in front of me, nobody does, but I knew with each step I could tame the beast behind me by being strong enough to accept it, and try my best to live with it. I have looked back at times, I have felt a draw to face the mountain again, but I look forward, no matter how bad I feel at times, I know that behind me lies more pain.

I still take steps, I stumble at times, but I move forward into the unknown. I do not know how many steps I have left to go, but I am learning to enjoy this journey. The mountain is still there, but I prefer acceptance to denial.

I hope you understand

Love and peace

David

If I was your mental health mentor, what would I discuss with you first?

If I was your mental health mentor, what would I discuss with you first?

Session one

How much do you believe in yourself?

On a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being totally self-assured, and 1 being a feeling of complete worthlessness, where would you place yourself?

I would guess your somewhere in the 1-5 bracket, otherwise you would not need help. As this is kind of a one-sided conversation, I would ask you to make yourself comfortable. As you are sat reading this, maybe just thinking about yourself might have raised some anxiety, or even some sadness. Take a second now to relax, is your jaw tense? how about your neck and shoulders? Take a moment now to just take 5 deep regular breathes and allow your body to relax (NB don’t relax so much you fall off the chair).

  1. As you breath out relax the jaw
  2. As you breath out relax your neck and shoulders
  3. As you breath out smile a little
  4. As you breath out relax even more
  5. As you breath out enjoy the feeling of being relaxed.

I hope that now you are a little more relaxed than you were before. I find that simple exercise to be so beneficial when I am anxious or upset. It is surprising just how much tension we hold in the jaw, I have been told it is hard to think negatively when you relax your jaw. is it true for you?

You may be wondering what this little exercise has to do with believing in yourself. Well, hopefully you managed to relax a little, maybe I should put some emphasis on the YOU managed to relax a little. I did not make you relax, you chose to try the exercise, you managed to change your state of mind, even if it was only a little. When I use this exercise it is normally because I need to take back some control, I need to stop whatever is going on in my head at that moment, I need to confirm my belief that I am able to control me, even if it is only a little. With this in mind try the exercise again, this time;

  1. As you breath out think I am relaxing my jaw
  2. As you breath out think I am relaxing my neck and shoulders
  3. As you breath out think I want to smile
  4. As you breath out think I want to relax even more
  5. As you breath out think I am in control

How did that work for you?

I sincerely hope that this simple exercise work in some way for you, just as it does for me. For me the biggest fear of my illness is losing control of myself. I know that nobody else can change me, only I can change myself. When I am manic, my mind is going at a thousand thoughts per minute (estimated), From the outside I may even look motivated, yet inside I am in turmoil, just waiting for my mind to overload and send me spinning off into intense anxiety. When I am depressed, I can go to some very dark places, mentally I beat myself until I am curled in a ball, desperately wishing I could cry and wail.

In these times all the psychobabble I know, all the brilliant therapies, it all goes, the only thing I know that might save me, is the simple exercise above. Over and over again, until I get that foot in the door of self control, then, right then, I believe in myself. For me believing in yourself, myself, when you have a mental health problem, finding that point where you say to yourself “I’m in a bad place here”, and you manage to get that sliver of control, that is where you can believe in yourself.

It takes a tremendous amount of strength to ride out these bad times, we have been through them before, we know the pain, mentally and physically, but we know they will end at some point. Me personally, those five deep breaths, they do not make the mania or depression instantly disappear, not by a long shot. What they do for me is to remind me that I must believe in myself. We live everyday with this, and we move forward, each new day, not knowing how we are going to feel, So if you put your belief in yourself in the 1-5 range, think again, I hope that I have in some way allowed you to believe in yourself a bit more, there is only you, and I think you are amazing.

I wish you peace and love, if you look you can find it everywhere

David

The Daily Post
When you just want to say fuck it

When you just want to say fuck it

Am I alone in getting sick and tired of my own mind? I may only speak for myself, but i am guessing that there are a lot of people out there with mental health problems who feel the same. Sat here popping pills to try to mask all the shit going though our minds. Blindly stumbling our way through life, with this weird twisted reality which no-one really understands. How can they though? I am different to the next person who is equally different to the next, all that connects us is a superficial label, that only has a diagnostic use!

I go on forums to try to give people some hope and understanding, people who are not even really sure what medication they are taking! This is the reality of mental health, people are just masked, the underlying problems left to dissipate over time, or more commonly the problems just intensify. I am not attacking medication, nor am I attacking the GPs who are prescribing the medication. It is the system that I am attacking, the system that has no idea how to deal with the rising number of people developing mental health problems.

I am doing my degree in Psychology and Counselling, however getting this degree does not make me a counsellor. I have studied hypnotherapy, which I believe does work well especially for those with anxiety. I have studied the works of Beck, Skinner, Pavlov, Erickson, Ellis, Rogers and many more. The one thing I have come to understand (besides mental health) is that there is a massive, evidence based, pool of therapeutic techniques out there, but no bloody therapists.

The best I have been offered is a watered down version of CBT, which could have come from the Dummies guide to CBT (yes it exists and there is also a workbook). I did say offered, I never actually received it, I also did not receive counselling even though the GP practice openly advertises it. Basically I am one pissed off puppy, We all know the system sucks, it is a problem that travels all the way to the politicians and paper makers. Now I have spoken to people (via IM) from across the world and it is a problem everywhere.

Brexit, what a fiasco that is turning out to be, Trump and Kim waving their dicks at each other, shut the fuck up you pair of wobbles. The world really needs to calm down and think for a moment. I read an article (desperately trying to find the source) that proposed that schizophrenics actually see the truth. Now don’t go all trolly, They see the truth when it comes to optical illusions. Anyway, the point I was going to make, is that we live in a crazy world, which bombards us with negativity at every opportunity.

Now, you may point at your screen and mutter, “you’re a fine one to talk about too much negativity”, and you would be right. I am angry because I am fed up of seeing more and more people wandering the pharmaceutical wasteland, with no-one to help. Except for those people who offer advice and support on forums and social media etc. Anger born out of frustration, frustration born out of the desire to help. maybe I should start a mentoring program?………..

I am sorry for all the profanity, very unprofessional of me, but everyone needs to vent.

I sincerely wish you all love and peace,

David

This blog post was proudly brought to you by me having my panties in a bunch and todays blog prompt being superficial, which is just how I feel
https://dailypost.wordpress.com/ An amazing site for inspiration and finding great blog posts. Plugging because I like the site not for any other reason.
Is there a witty side to mental illness

Is there a witty side to mental illness

I have found a rather interesting site which provides a daily prompt for blog posts. If you are a blogger like myself, a ‘fits and starts’ type, it might be useful. The site is called The Daily Post , check it out and see what you think.

Anyway, I have decided to take up their challenge of both writing a post every day, and also writting a post ‘inspired’ by the daily prompt. The word today is witty. Now as I write mainly about my personal experience with mental illness, and occasionally my views on mental illness, trying to formulate a blog post around the word witty is interesting.

Here.  I have to be careful, putting witty and mental health could get me in trouble. Some people could take it that I am saying mental illness is funny, I am not, though I do laugh at myself. This I think is my first point, the ability to laugh at yourself. I do stupid things, I spend money when I know full well that I don’t really have it to spend. Until recently I drank (see my post ‘The trouble with alcohol and mental health’), and other things that made my life just that bit more difficult.

Now I used to get angry at myself for doing these things, fuelled the self loathing, gave myself more to mentally beat myself up, now I try to laugh them off. Logically I know what I have done and what the results of my actions will be, I now accept that it cannot be undone, so it is ‘counter productive?’ For me beat myself up. I try to say to myself “oh well, thats another fuck up” and move on. I do talk to myself a lot, often out loud when alone, I try to keep a positive mindset by joking with myself.

This leads nicely into my second point, what some call ‘military humour’, though I believe it is shared by many front line services. When you see a lot of bad things often the way to accept it, is to joke about it. Now I feel I am coming close to the line, but fuck it I will say it anyway, “why the hell can we not joke about mental health”. I know someone who had a heart attack last week, I seen him today laughing and joking about it. My own mum passed away as a result of cancer just a few months ago (another time) and right up until the end she kept her sense of humour.

Try to make light of mental health and run the risk of scorn and damnation. Is mental illness funny, no it is not, but neither are heart disease and cancer. Is the use of wit when explaining your condition wrong? This depends in my view, I am very open about my illness, I do take it very serious. However trying to explain my illness involves going into some rather heavy stuff, to those of casual acquaintance who enquire I simply say “oh I had a crap electrician wire my brain”, or “I am fit and healthy from the neck down”.

I think you get the picture, sometimes people enquire out of courtesy, they neither want, or, probably fully understand the clinical “I have <insert label here>”. My daughter read my last blog post and nearly cried, she hugged me tightly and said “daddy, it’s so sad”. Now compared to some of my past posts it was very matter of fact, at least that is what I thought. It got me thinking, do I write depressing posts?, and more so, is that the reason people read them, I really hope not.

I know that there is still a massive amount of stigma attached to mental illness, I actively support the education of the masses to the serious plight people face with mental health issues, but are we making a problem with a solution. As most mental illness involves some form of anxiety and/or depression, by stamping our feet so hard to get the masses to take us seriously do we not run a risk of further reinforcing  negative beliefs? Just a thought. Now I may have crossed the line with this post, and I do actively encourage debate (though just calling me a dumb asshole is neither constructive but possibly true….anyway) but I have said what I feel.

No person should take a characteristic of another and use it to cause them discomfort. That being said, within the confines of a social circle, you will often find banter, sarcastic wit and repartee the binding ingredient. I wonder if it is possible to use the power of social media to create such a place. I have just set up a Twitter group called The MHB Club which is open to anyone. There is a Facebook group called The MHB Club which you can ask to join.

So, before I get stoned (with metaphorical rocks not weed) please think, join the groups, spread the work, and let us use our wit to help each other, who knows it might actually work.

Love and peace to you all,

David

NB The picture for those that do not recognise it is the stoning scene from Monty Python, The life of Brian. If you have never seen it shame on you. Yes this is my.  Type of humour.

Launch- mental health inspiration

Launch- mental health inspiration

The other day I sat and watched Apollo 13 with my daughter, a film I have seen countless times, but for her the first. She asked me not long ago about role models, and I told her I chose those people who faced adversity with strength and resolve. I spoke to her about the Apollo 13 mission and how even under extreme conditions people can still ‘hold it together’, granted they were highly trained and skilled people.

Showing her the film though was more to show her how it was not just the astronauts, but all of the support staff on earth who came together to solve the problem. Hundreds of people all working together towards a common goal. I told her after, these are the people I would class as role models. People who studied hard, became passionate about their work, and most of all worked as a team.

To me, you can keep your celebrities and sports stars, they, with a few exceptions are just distractions from the millions of ordinary people who work hard for the betterment of others. I wish I was one of those people, I will be one day. I often ask myself, am I better off being average at a lot of things, or concentrate on excelling at one? In the case of the NASA scientists, engineers etc, they excel at their chosen field. I admire them for that, I can’t help but admire all people who manage to build and stick to one thing.

I sadly never know when I wake each day, who I will be, never mind what. I have constant doubt and hesitation, when you have a long history of poor decision making, making any decision becomes a dilemma. A struggle I know that faces many people of all ages. Maybe it is because there is so much in the world today, certainly more freedom to choose which career path you wish to follow.

I will be 44 on Sunday, I have mental health problems, I have lost what little threads of direction in my life. I do have my degree which I hope will channel me, I should be a certified hypnotherapist, but I just didn’t do the paperwork, why?? Not only did I spend a lot of money on the course, which I did do all the practical training, but I enjoyed it. I like to think I was even good at it, but like a lot of things, I never finished it.

I am a history of faded dreams, I close my eye and imagine those rockets launching into space, and I think to myself, “If we can put a man in space, surely you can do the housework”.

Peace and love

David

This blog post is inspired by The Daily Post, daily prompts

Why more than DSM5

Why more than DSM5

Hang on, I need to put the kettle on………

In five days and eight hours I will turn 44

Which is quite amazing, because I was sure I was 44 last year!, just in case, I was born in the year nineteen hundred and seventy-three, feel free to correct me if I am wrong. I always remember being different, the typical square peg trying to fit into the round hole of life. When I had my last breakdown I started getting interested in mental health, as many people do. The DSM5 was actually one of the first books I bought and I devoured it.

I actually remember having a conversation with a psychiatrist, well more of an argument, because I wanted a diagnosis, I wanted to know what was wrong with me. In fact I basically had made up my mind what was wrong with me, because I had read a book! My thinking was, if I know what pigeon-hole I fit in, then I can work out the best therapy to get out of it.

Two years have passed, I no longer care what label I may or may not have. In the past two years I have probably reviewed every form of therapy and I can honestly say that the DSM5 or the ICD10 have little bearing on the choice of therapy. So I call myself (my blog is an extension of me, that’s right your eyes are wandering over a bit of me, poor you) MoreThanDSM5. I am more than a bunch of symptoms, I am an individual, just because someone else acts similar does not mean we are the same.

The name has now come to mean even more to me, it means going beyond. Facing the fear of the next step, recovery. I know that a lot of mental illness cannot be cured, but in many ways, I believe, it can be managed. Recovery to me, means going from one state to a better state. Being cured means you are no longer ill.

Unfortunately changing your life in seven days is all but impossible, so how about I give myself a year. 365 days of change, and I have just five days to work out how and what I am going to do.

Peace and love

 

David

NB DSM5 stands for Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders