Thursday, 27 July 2017

HOW I KNOW THAT MY 'BOLT HOLE' HASN'T BECOME MY 'HIDEY HOLE'


"Don't tell me you haven't heard of that phrase!"
"Well, no!"
"A hole is somewhere you can go and hide; and 'bolt' is... like when you're running away."

Last year, I visited Scarborough with my Mum and since I've never shut up about the amazing hotel room we stayed in (at the Ambassador Hotel) it'd had the most incredible view but it wasn't until a day before we were due to leave that I actually started to make the most of - and appreciate - the chairs placed directly in front of the bay window. So when I found out I was going back to Scarborough but that it was to stay in a different hotel (the Crown Spa Hotel), I wasn't sure if I was going to enjoy it so much; I'd thought that it'd been that hotel, that view, and that little area of the room that had me feeling content and peaceful for the entire holiday.

Monday, 17 July 2017

A QUARTER OF A MILLION READERS!!!


BEFORE I BEGAN TO BLOG…

Having been abused when I was younger I internalised all of the mental (and physical) pain; and held onto the anger through my reluctance to tell anyone it had occurred. Over the following two years I tried various dangerous and unhealthy coping methods before I began experiencing auditory hallucinations in 2009, and out of fear; I took an overdose.
Over the following three years I self-harmed (in many different ways), took (according to my files) over 60 overdoses, and was sectioned under the Mental Health Act on countless occasions where admissions to Psychiatric Hospitals lasted from anywhere between a couple of days, to several months.











WHEN I BEGAN TO BLOG
In July 2012 I attempted suicide and woke up in Intensive Care. There (once I came off life support) I agreed to go into a long-term (the average stay was claimed to be 12-18 months) hospital specialising in Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD). The hospital (Cygnet Hospital Bierley) was based over 100 miles away from my home, my Mum, my family, friends; and everything I knew…

Wednesday, 12 July 2017

'What I Wish We Could've Said Besides Goodbye' by Twitter-Verified Rebecca Lombardo, Author, Blogger & Podcast Co-Host | GUEST POST | Ad

Rebecca Lombardo (the author of this guest post) is best known for her book: It's Not Your Journey, her writing for The Huffington Post and The Mighty and the podcast she Co-Hosts: Voices for Change.

This post is one of three that Rebecca has kindly submitted in celebration of I'm NOT Disordered exceeding a quarter of a million readers! THANK YOU EVERYONE!
ENJOY...

Rebecca Lombardo: http://www.rebeccalombardo.com/
Rebecca's Twitter: https://twitter.com/BekaLombardo
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bekalombardo/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEoyO6kjuytYquAmZLWt7MQ

In 2013, I attempted to take my life. I was admitted immediately to the hospital and placed on suicide watch. Because I have a lot of friends on social media, my husband thought it would be a good way to keep people updated about my condition. I don’t blame him, in fact, I gave him permission. It seemed logical and was not at all meant to hurt anyone. I considered most of the people on my page to be close friends, and I know a lot of people were asking about me.

What we didn’t ever stop to consider was the people that didn’t want the updates. Some of those friends were people I had known 20 years or more.  When I was finally released from the mental institution that I was transferred to, I hoped for support from my friends. I had just been through a major trauma and the hospital I was sent to was just a horrible, horrible place.
Much to my dismay, the first time I signed on to Facebook I discovered that I had lost quite a few friends. Some were hardly noticeable, but some were people I considered family and I was stunned, and I was furious. I was so angry that I should never have been trying to communicate with any of these people. I should have taken a step back and approached it at a later date.  I knew I was only going to be met with more negativity, but sometimes I have trouble controlling my anger.
As I started to approach certain people, I was shocked to hear that they deleted or even blocked me because of my husband’s updates. They were apparently too depressing for some people. My feelings at the time were shackled to resentment. I kept thinking, “It was hard on YOU that I almost died? Are you kidding me right now?”. The more I thought about it, the angrier I got.

One friend, I had known for more than 20 years. We even lived together at one point. I felt like I had always been there for her when she needed me, so I couldn’t understand why she couldn’t be there for me when I so desperately needed her. My husband explained that he had privately messaged her to tell her the situation. Apparently, up until that point, I had done a great job of hiding my disease from her. Either that or she wasn’t paying any attention. I’m inclined to believe it was the latter of the two.
He was met with stereotypical stigmatizing statements like, “What could she possibly have to be so depressed about?” and “Suicide is just taking the coward’s way out of life.” So, he dropped it and didn’t tell me about it right away for obvious reasons. When I went to message her that I was home and found out that she not only deleted me but blocked me as well, I had to email and ask her why.
I don’t recall our exact conversation; I think I’ve blocked a lot of it out. I do remember my anger reaching boiling point as I wrote my email. I let her have it. Now that I can look back at the situation, I do regret getting that angry. However, when I started to get the comments back about me being a coward and having her only refer to it as “my so-called illness,” well let’s just say I lost it. It only took three emails to decimate a 20+ year friendship. That was in July of 2013, and we still don’t talk.

Some days I miss her. Most of the time, the feelings of loss are immediately replaced by resentment. Then there are the days where I begin to wonder. What if I had approached it differently? Why if I had gotten out of my own way long enough to realize maybe she was afraid of losing her friend and that fear turned into anger?
What if I had tried to educate her on my condition? What if I had just come right out and told her why I did what I did? Despite my part in the whole sordid affair, I have to put part of the burden on her as well. She could have approached me kindly without tossing stigma and judgment out at me. She owed me that much after more than 20 years.

The moral of the story here is that there will be people in your life that no matter what, they will not understand your illness. They won’t even try. They’ll hear the term mental illness and cut and run. You have to keep reminding yourself that it’s not your fault. You didn’t ask for this disease, and you certainly didn’t ask for the ignorance you run across. You can explain it to them, but you can’t understand it for them.

On the other side, try to remember that a serious mental breakdown may scare your friends or family members. They may be afraid to discuss it with you for fear of making it worse, so their only instinct is to get as far away from you as possible. I’ve witnessed this first-hand.  Perhaps their first instinct is anger; that is not your fault either.

The person you need to be concerned with right now is the one looking back at you in the mirror. Other people will come around at their own pace, or they may not ever come around at all. It’s not up to you to figure it out for them, and while the loss may be painful, it’s good to know who will be by your side when the going gets tough. If you do lose someone, that is their issue, not yours. You have to get yourself better; you can’t focus on becoming what they want or need you to be. In the long run, you’ll realize that if they’re out the door at the first sign of trouble; they weren’t friends anyway.





For more on Rebecca's personal journey visit: http://www.rebeccalombardo.com/about
And to buy Rebecca's book visit: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692509739/ref=cm_sw_su_dp

SURPRISE #MultiAgencyNE POST FOR CLAIRE ANDRE


NOTE: This post is ridiculously belated (the #MultiAgencyNE event was September 2016) but I recently came across it in my 'drafts' blog post file and didn't want it to go unpublished! So, here's some words of praise for someone who (in my opinion) is a bit of an unsung hero. Claire Andre is one of those amazing professionals who is genuine and dedicated to what she does - it isn't just a paycheque for her. She takes things to heart; and has been one of the best mentors I could've asked for!


"Claire and her team have put together a fantastic event which promises to be a real opportunity to showcase some wonderful work in mental health and improving outcomes for service users"


"Claire is a force of nature: she gets stuff done and she's waded fearlessly in to a police culture that isn't always sympathetic to the problems in mental health. This amazing event shows what she's capable of - well done, Claire!"
Michael Brown OBEBlogger, and Mental Health Coordinator for NPCC and the College of Policing

Tuesday, 11 July 2017

'The Pressures of Advocacy' by Twitter-Verified Rebecca Lombardo, Author, Blogger & Podcast Co-Host | GUEST POST | Ad

Rebecca Lombardo (the author of this guest post) is best known for her book: It's Not Your Journey, her writing for The Huffington Post and The Mighty and the podcast she Co-Hosts: Voices for Change.

This post is one of three that Rebecca has kindly submitted in celebration of I'm NOT Disordered exceeding a quarter of a million readers! THANK YOU EVERYONE!
ENJOY...

Rebecca Lombardo: http://www.rebeccalombardo.com/
Rebecca's Twitter: https://twitter.com/BekaLombardo
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bekalombardo/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCEoyO6kjuytYquAmZLWt7MQ

Often when it comes to the world of mental health advocacy, you find that you stumble into it head-first, having no idea how you got there. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it’s just unexpected, and it takes a while to get your footing. Suddenly, you realize you didn’t leave yourself a trail of breadcrumbs to find your way back out, just in case it all becomes too much for you.  As much of an honour as it is to help fight against the stigma of mental illness and to be the voice of the voiceless, it can be exhausting and time-consuming.

Sometimes your personal feelings fall by the wayside because you’re so focused on the care of others. I know at least in my situation, I’m terrified that one day I may have a serious setback again that requires hospitalization. What does that say to all of the people that have read my book or followed me on Twitter as I declare, you can do this! You are a warrior!
Do I look like a hypocrite telling them to keep fighting as I’m curled up in the fetal position having not showered in 3 days? The whole concept makes me feel like a giant failure. There have been times when I have had to step back or not get involved in certain situations, not because I didn’t care but because I needed to protect myself. I’ve seen some backlash from those experiences, but I can’t let that get to me. As I’ve often stated, I’m not a professional with a degree, and I’m certainly not getting paid to offer my advice, so unfortunately, there will be times when I am not 100% dialled in.

Which leads me to my next point. How do you cope with being an advocate when a loved one dies? In this case, it was my father, and I am devastated. It’s only been about five days. There are times when being online helps me keep my mind occupied, so I’m not perpetually in grief mode. At the same time, it can be incredibly difficult because you can’t participate to the fullest, so you feel as if whatever headway you made is lost. You sit back and watch as others are offered opportunities, or people are looking for writers for a story, etc. and you just have to allow yourself to say no. No matter how disappointed you feel.
Don’t get me wrong; this is not a competition. We’re all on the same team, but there are times when you’re struggling, and you just have to sit this one out, and my brain has a real problem with that.

Last night, I sat down in front of the computer to try to get a few things done. Before long, I realized I had been sitting there staring at it for about 5 minutes, with no idea what I was doing. I couldn’t remember a single thing I needed or wanted to do, and I just completely lost it. I had a horrible panic attack that originated in my arms; similar to that pins and needles feeling when a body part falls asleep on you. I had to drag myself away and hope that my brain would be functioning better today. To a certain degree, it is, but I still feel a nagging sense of panic.

I have things to accomplish today, such as this blog. I’ve had the first two paragraphs written for three weeks. I like to think that both my mom and my dad would want me to keep pushing forward to get to my goal. I wish my mom could see me now. The person I’ve become. I know my dad was proud, he told me so. I think she would be too.

So, as I take this little mental health break, I need to try to understand that it’s OK to step away for a while. Even though we were right in the middle of a whole bunch of projects, I’ll never learn how to process grief if I don’t take some time to do it.
You may see me stumble and even fall for a little while, and somehow I’m going to have to be OK with that. I hope you can be as well.
A little while before my father got so sick, I started a hashtag on Twitter #KeepTalkingMH  I think it’s appropriate for not only the month of May,(being Mental Health Awareness Month) but for mental health in general. While I step back and focus on me for a little while, don’t think I’m not terrified that it will get swept under the rug and never heard of again.  If I think long enough, I can find a vast array of topics to cause me yet another panic attack. So, it begs the question: Is being an advocate giving me additional pressures or am I burdening myself with additional pressures because I’m an advocate?

I personally think it’s both.
So, I’m off to attempt to enjoy a day of nice weather and try not to struggle too much with my grief. It’s going to be a long road, but I’ve been on it before.



For more on Rebecca's personal journey visit: http://www.rebeccalombardo.com/about
And to buy Rebecca's book visit: https://www.amazon.com/dp/0692509739/ref=cm_sw_su_dp