Friday, 16 October 2020

DEAR DOLLY & SOME ADVICE | TWO YEARS SINCE THE DEATH OF MY CAT | IN COLLABORATION WITH CATS PROTECTION | AD


And now your song is on repeat

And I’m dancin’ on to your heartbeat

And when you’re gone, I feel incomplete

Symphony – Clean Bandit

 

Two years ago today, I lost a best-friend when my four-year-old, Maine Coon cat; Dolly, was put to sleep. Today, I’ll be marking her two year anniversary (you can read the one year mark here) with a letter to her and some advice on how to cope with the loss of a pet.

I’m honoured to say that this post will be in collaboration with Cats Protection – it’s kind of a light to all the difficult moments in this post… 

Dear Dolly,

You knew how much I enjoyed writing, but this letter is one of the hardest things I’ve ever wrote. However, I think that in the long run, it’ll be helpful to me and my mental health because it’s a bit of a relief to feel that I’m getting out everything I want to tell you and what I want you to know. 

Did you know that the pink and white spotted collar that was around your neck for a long part of your life, was actually hanging from a photo frame in my hospital room for months before I got you?! My Mum had the idea that maybe buying the collar and having it to look at, would keep me motivated in working hard at my mental health recovery because having my own home, and having you; would be my prize at the end. Being in that hospital over 100 miles away from everyone I loved, having that collar was also comforting because it prompted me to consider all my loved ones if I was struggling or about to self-harm. And it reminded me that doing something like that, would make having you even further and further away, out of my reach. And I couldn’t stand that.

Saturday, 10 October 2020

FIVE THOUGHTS INSPIRED BY THE THEME OF ‘MENTAL HEALTH FOR ALL’ | WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY 2020 | #WMHD2020



As if it’s October already! For a lot of people, October means Halloween, but for those of us in the mental health industry – particularly mental health Bloggers, October means; World Mental Health Day (WMHD) – probably one of the most important dates in the calendar for me.

This year, the World Federation for Mental Health has announced the theme to be ‘Mental Health for All.’ Inevitably and understandably, a huge inspiration for the theme has been the Coronavirus and subsequent ‘lockdowns.’ I think that one aspect of the inspiration comes from the fact that there’s been an increase in the prescription of anti-depressant medication during this difficult time. That, and the increase on referrals to mental health crisis services, really pressure the already underfunded area.

It took me quite a while (so long that I desperately asked Martin from www.gumonmyshoe.com for his ideas!) to think of what I wanted to say today on this theme around improving access to mental health services for everyone. In the end, I realised that I have a lot of thoughts around various aspects of the theme and that maybe I can’t give them one set category… So, here’s some thoughts that’ve been inspired by the Federation’s theme:

 

Saturday, 3 October 2020

TRUST & MENTAL HEALTH | MY SUNDAY TWITTER TAKEOVER WITH TALK & SUPPORT | AD


By chance, the Social Media Manager for LEAPS (the support group I Chair) noticed a call for individuals to take over the Twitter account for Talk and Support (https://twitter.com/TalkandsupportJ) and kindly nominated me for the role! When I was given the login details, I felt a true honour in that moment from the realisation that I was being hugely trusted – not only with the account’s reputation, but also trusted to produce content which will be of interest to their followers. And it got me thinking about trust in general, why it’s so important to me, and what it means in mental health…

The first instance which I feel massively affected my thoughts around trust, was the abuse I experienced from November 2006 to April 2007. Since CPS determined there wasn’t enough evidence to prosecute my abuser, I’m now unable to disclose his identity; but what I can say is that he was in a position of power and therefore was trusted by a number of people (including professionals). He was trusted to do the exact opposite of what he was doing to me – he was supposed to be helping, supporting, and caring for myself and others.

Instead, he took that trust and used it as an opportunity to hurt me because it instilled in him the belief – maybe even ‘knowledge’ because he was arrogant like that – that he’d get away with it. I mean, he frequently reminded me during the abuse that even if I did tell someone what he’d been doing to me, they wouldn’t believe it of him. They would never be able to even imagine the person they knew and trusted doing something so awful (massive understatement!).

Sunday, 27 September 2020

WHY I’M PLANNING BLOGMAS IN SEPTEMBER


No, that title is no joke; I really have started producing content for Blogmas 2020! I actually did a poll on my Twitter too to see if anyone else was, and I got a unanimous ‘no!’

I was in two minds about writing this post because part of me was worried that people would think I was trying to ‘justify’ my decision and would believe I should be more confident and not worry what others think. But the other part of me – the part which has won! – wanted to do this post to maintain the usual ethos of I’m NOT Disordered; and that is to help others understand someone else’s decision, experiences, behaviour, thoughts, feelings, and attitude, in a bid to encourage them not to hold any sort of stigma or discrimination  against those they feel that they can’t identify with. I also hoped that this post might be an opportunity to encourage others to have confidence and courage in talking about any decisions they’ve made that they worry might be deemed ‘unpopular.’

A few reasons led to my decision to start planning for Blogmas…

Sunday, 20 September 2020

EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WASTING TIME IN MENTAL HEALTH



It might still be a few months off, but I feel like my Thirtieth Birthday is looming and with it, my need to justify what I’ve achieved so far in my life. And it’s inspired this post…

Back in 2007 – when the abuse had just ‘ended’ – I had wanted to work in Law so that I could help others get justice for when they had been wronged. I think I was so passionate and eager to give a voice to those who deserved it, when I felt as though mine had been silenced for the past year. I wanted for others to feel that those who’d hurt and upset them in some way, had gotten the consequences and punishment that they deserved because for so many reasons, my abuser never did.

After my mental health deteriorated during my exams at School, I lost the opportunity to study Law at University and instead, found passion to go into Childcare. I guess that again, I was projecting my own experiences and harnessing them as motivation to work in a particular industry. My thinking behind Childcare was that I wanted to promote that children have a similar, innocent childhood to my own, but that they were also aware of all the things that I hadn’t been; and which hit me like a ton of bricks when I finally experienced them.

Again, though, my mental health prevented me from taking this aspiration any further and before long I was spending the following three years in and out of both medical and psychiatric hospitals worrying that I was wasting everyone’s time. This concern didn’t just come from my own thinking though, I was told this was the case by Police Officers and A&E staff. I think that from the Police force’s view, they were there to fight crime, catch perpetrators, and protect victims; and not to sit for hours on end with someone who was in a mental health crisis. But their legal obligation to have a duty of care for everyone, their powers under section 136 of the 1983 Mental Health Act, and the fact that mental health services are operating on a very low budget with a limited amount of staff has meant that they’ve become somewhat responsible for helping and supporting someone in a mental health crisis. Of course, they aren’t the ‘best’ or the ‘right’ people to do this job and I think that maybe those feelings of inadequacy led to a lot of frustration for Officers who also felt that this wasn’t what they had expected in joining the Police. Inevitably, the frustration was taken out on the nearest person and that person was often me. Except, because I was in crisis, I couldn’t understand or appreciate their side of things and to me, they were just being rude, insulting, and unfair in saying I was wasting their time.