Whatever Makes You Happy (even if just for a moment)…

I was christened Methodist at birth but most of my foundations and early beliefs of religion came from attending and being educated in a Catholic Primary School named, St Martin De Porres. My nan still says, “Say your prayers” everytime we speak. Yet after primary school, religion wasn’t ever really part of my life. Like most western people my age, growing up, family Sunday dinner (even if just Mum, the dog and I) was a ritual, not going to Church. I was always curious about religion though, I guess it was more about understanding my surroundings rather than looking for a saviour. Birmingham, England is and always has been extremely multicultural, I wanted to understand what my peers were upto, believed in and committed to. I was just curious and therefor Religious Studies was one of my favourite subjects at secondary school. There was so much to learn about, it made me question how all of which fit together, who was I to say what was fiction and none fiction, that one religion or another made more sense or not and so I vowed that until I found the time to study every single religion, it would not be fair for me to side with any which one without all the information. To this day I have never found the time to do so and so I stand by the tittle Agnostic, which for me means… I believe in some sort of higher power but as to which exactly, I do not know. Most of the people that I know are Atheists. The truth is I don’t mind what religion anyone follows, as long as they do not force it upon others.
I consider myself to be rather spiritual. Believe me or not, I have no reason to lie, I have psychic dreams, I have had three encounters with angels and I am still figuring it all out but this year I started to attend a spiritualist church. It is my saviour. With the nature of depression, I am down more often than not, whether it manifests out of me as suicidal or manic and many complex shades in between, I find it hard to be still, calm and have a free mind, but spiritual healing enables me to explore being zen, even if just for a moment every week which I attend. Hands on healing is extremely powerful. At its best, I can only explain the transaction between the healer and I with this metaphoric description; before healing I am a battery controlled object in an inanimate state, when I am touched the very first contact is like being plugged in on super charge, my body hair pricks up and a wave of cold hits me from head to toe and then heat is transferred to the areas in which I am touched, I am physically and mentally awoken, walls are broken down and restored. Sometimes I cry, sometimes my head hurts, sometimes I feel sea sick as I tend to be gently rocked both forward and back, side to side by the comforting powers that be. There is nothing human that I can compare it to, nothing that I have personally experienced, but please take my word for it, it is wonderful.
Healing/Church/Religion/Spirituality may not be for you but I urge you to try something substance and toxic free to help clear your mind and recharge, life is hard and with no you time, to reset, self reflect and self focuss, life can be an unpleasant, continuous and seemingly pointless cycle. I do not insist but encourage you to experiment if you have not yet discovered your happy place to reboot, maybe explore with yoga, meditation, mindfulness, any activity that focuses on self attention and reflection without the aid of distraction and find your happy place. You deserve it. We all deserve to feel wholesome, even if just for a moment in our fragmented lives. You might not find your thing straight away, it took me 35 years to connect the dots but we are all fragile and all deserve to be healed.
I just think everyone deserves an occasional worry free, float in the clouds, lifted, supported, enabling energy/feeling every now and then because we all fall down sometimes and it is so nice to be helped back up.

Not Alone

NOT ALONE
THIS BLOG WAS INSPIRED BY, “NOT ALONE”. A NETFLIX DOCUMENTARY WITH THIS FEATURED DISCRIPTION…
“An 18-year-old struggling to understand her best friend’s suicide talks to teenagers who have grappled with mental illness and suicidal thoughts.”
In my opinion, this documentary was both moving and empowering, it is honest and straight to the point, not an easy watch but the message is poignant, delicate but loud and clear, as real life people disclose their personal suffering and demons in order to help and encourage others that may experience similar difficulties.
Teenagers in America speak out about mental illness after teenage suicide rates hit the red zone. The documentary was made to break down the barrier surrounding mental health, encouraging teenagers to talk about how they are really feeling, not just by selfies, pictures, emoji’s, social media and texts but urging contact and deep connection. The brave teenagers featured, one of which whom confessed to trying to take her own life only a month before filming, now have aspirations for a full blooming future for themselves. They advise fellow teenagers to reach out, to not be afraid and to seek help and treatment.
Social media seems to have been a huge trigger for the majority of teenagers involved. There is an awful lot of pressure to obtain the most likes/followers/requests in order to feel relevant, included and important rather than ugly, irrelevant, left out or boring. The common misconception of social media is that it enables you to feel connected and part of something, where as in reality; it is just a smokescreen that portrays a filtered and edited sense of self, rather than the full story. Throw in a mix of trolls and cyber bullying and being part of such an apparent simple social network, can quite rapidly turn into a living hell, causing major psychological damage. As if peer pressure wasn’t already gruelling in the days before the internet, now it invades our homes and beyond, constantly on the go with our phones permanently attached to our hands, in this pro technology era, it never stops!
The teenagers encourage others to be pro-active and vigilant about themselves and their friends. Now that is a community spirited attitude. Yet what exactly should one be looking out for? Some symptoms may be overly obvious and alarming, but others can be very subtle and so I would personally advise touching base with your cared for and loved ones, in person, on the regular, as we have already established the smoke screen and mirrors that social media and non-verbal or physical contact can portray. To name but a few symptoms…
• Change in personality
• Withdrawal
• Mood swings
• Lack of motivation
• Lack of interest
• Fatigue
• Over eating
• Loss of appetite
• Self-neglect
• Absence
• Silence
• Dismissive
• Emotional
• Substance abuse
• Reckless behaviour
• Promiscuity
• Self-harm
• Suicidal behaviour
Potential causes for such behaviour…
• Feeling insignificant
• Feeling unimportant
• Feeling worthless
• Low self esteem
• Anxiety
• Depression
• Feeling lost
• Feeling out of place
• Falling out of touch with reality
• Falling behind
• Peer pressure
• Bullying
• Unstable home life
• Isolation
• Feeling stuck
• Hearing voices
• Hallucinations
• Self-loathing
• Insecurities
• Suffocation
All of the teenagers interviewed had struggled in various ways, but they all came to the same conclusion, suicide was there only way out, the only way to stop their troubles and finally be free. They had all tried to commit suicide and yet they all survived. Their paths to recovery were long and most of which were still receiving treatment at the time this documentary was filmed. I think they bravely shared their stories, in hope that others would not have to conquer so many demons before finding help, they were handing out life lines, and this is what they believe will help you escape the spiralling rabbit hole of depression and suicidal behaviour and help you get back onto the right track, in order to reignite dreams, and give you the strength to fight for a healthy and positive future…
• Let someone in
• Reach out for help
• Share your problems
• Accept help
• Acknowledge triggers
• Devise healthy coping strategies
• Accept that you do not have to fight alone
• Find something or someone to fight for
• Be kind to yourself
• Give yourself a chance
• Communicate
• Explore coping strategies, meditation, therapy, mindfulness, yoga, medication, hospitalisation, support networks, talking, being heard
• Take recovery at your own pace
• Breath
This documentary featured real teenagers and young adults openly discussing their mental struggles, I acknowledge that this is not an easy thing to do. I am also personally aware that being at the receiving end of suicidal thoughts and acting out on suicidal behaviour is not easy, nor selfish (a common misconception) but more like, just in that moment an inescapable attempt at finally ending loosing and obliterating a seemingly never ending battle. Having access to real life people, opening up about their real life struggles, through a media outlet as renowned as Netflix, is testament that people are really starting to wake up and acknowledge that ill mental health is a serious and legitimate disability, a life threatening illness. Perhaps the more open we are about the taboo subject of mental health and all of its many symptoms, the less fearful people will be about reaching out, the less ignorant the people around you may be.
Although this particular documentary focusses on teenagers from America, we must not forget that this is a global problem and can hit any one of us at any time in our lives. I am thirty-three years old, I identify with nearly all of the personal accounts in this documentary and have an awful long way to go before my own recovery. It has been less than twelve months since my last suicide attempt. I last self-harmed approximately seven days ago. My main professional mental health support network is slack in most areas and I have reached out countless times, only to be left with no help and in the same predicament. I do not feel like it, and I often wonder why, but I am obviously a fighter and a survivor. Psychosis, hallucinations, low self-esteem, depression, anxiety, dissociation, self-harm and suicidal behaviour are constantly hanging just above my, “Borderline” head but I am still here, and like all the brave teenagers who have genuinely overcome their woes, I hope to myself someday, but for now, it is more important for me to help others. It does not matter where you come from, how old you are, your ethnicity or sexual orientation, we are all human, humans that are susceptible to ill mental health, whether it be one in four or one in three, may your battle be long or short, it is important to be educated and have empathy. It is important to remove all stigmas from the topic of mental health, to no longer be silenced and shushed but to speak out loud and proud and so people can learn. Enough of the misleading headlines and inaccurate babble from online, old book’s and outdated theories, hear it from the horse’s mouth if you really want to learn, if you really want to be part of positive change and help save lives. The knowledge gained from experiences shared is invaluable.
I am genuinely sorry for the millions of lives lost due to ill mental health, and I will continue to share both my story and others, in hope that eventually the numbers of lives saved will outweigh the numbers of lives lost.
Please check out, “No Ones Lounge” via my YouTube Channel, noone adiarfromnoone subscribe for more and if you can, please donate in order for me to keep funding the invaluable messages that will be shared in every episode. Here’s a taster trailer, https://youtu.be/CP7sBZpf7mU and the donation link, https://www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/noone
“When Life Gets Tough, Please Remember That You Are Not Alone!”
Quote from, “Not Alone” netflix

Stamp

I do not claim to be worse off than you,
Neither do I claim to be better,
I am who I am,
I plead for clarity to translate,
That all I can do,
Is be myself.
I may preach somewhat,
Use language to inform and inspire,
Turning pain to power,
Yet I am no veteran,
I did not formally study psychology,
But what I have seen,
And where I have been,
No text book could teach you,
I have a fountain of knowledge,
It runs through my veins,
I let my tap flow,
With pure intent,
To nurture all,
As at some point,
We all may fall,
My resources are both learnt and earnt from experience,
The pain that I endure,
You may think my weakness,
But I have always cared for others more than myself,
And so my misfortune is another man’s wealth,
I am no saint,
Nor do I vow to be,
Yet I am more humble than a sinner,
I genuinely want you to overcome and be a winner,
But I must also admit that,
Sharing with you,
Allows me to process too.
I hope to encourage progress if nothing more,
A familiar stranger from whom to draw,
When all seems lost and said and done,
Perhaps my insight will help you over come,
The boogie man that holds you down,
Whilst stealing the best parts of you,
Erasing your smile,
Stamping you with a frown,
Whilst your whole world turns upside down,
Your spirit and soul taken,
Whilst your cocoon is left to drown.

When The Curtains Close…

When the curtain’s close,
And the applause dies down,
I enter another dimension,
Spinning dizzy on an irrational Merry Go Round.
My mask scrubbed off,
Costume neatly hung,
Lines stored for tomorrow,
I cannot pretend anymore,
And I am left in sorrow.
My hands shake,
Arms ache,
As I try to embrace myself,
Rocking back and forth,
Backwards and forth.
Most people get nervous when the stage lights go up,
Yet for me,
It is when the lights go down.
My heart sinks.
There is no platform to pretend anymore.
I loose my voice,
My heart heavy and sore.
Weak in the knee’s,
Unsteady feet,
The magic fades,
Leaving me weak.
The star has gone,
I am No One,
Someone,
Anyone,
Everyone,
No sense of self,
Or belonging,
Alone,
Just me!
Whoever that may be!?

Even the help doesn’t help!

I don’t want to sound ungrateful and appreciate that there are many people out there who really need psychiatric care and do not receive it, but even when you are deep in the psychiatric system, when you are within the secondary level care unit, supposedly receiving sufficient support, when you have a community psychiatric nurse, a support worker, therapy, medication, even then; there are still so many mistakes made. You could wave a flag in front of, “The Help”, light it with fire and parade up and down in front of them, still not to receive the appropriate acknowledgment and required care.
I manage my various mental health symptoms to the best that I can. I take my medication. I try to eat well. Exercise. Laugh. Smile. Be honest and in touch with my feelings and symptoms.
Group therapy has been a bumpy ride since the beginning. I missed the first session as I got the times wrong. I cried inconsolably at the second and had to leave the room due to anxiety. The third was easier although still not as rewarding as I hoped, not enjoyable at all. I missed the fourth due to a separate engagement which was unavoidable. My personal fourth session was rather different, there were a few new faces (new peers tend to join every four weeks or so) and also a lady psychiatrist who was standing in for, “Merchant.” It was the first and last session that I actually quite enjoyed, in fact I had contemplated not going at all but it was half term and so my Mother personally took me there and collected me that week. It still felt very much like school, with all the don’ts and hardly any do’s.
“Peer’s must not leave the room throughout the entire session. Peer’s must raise their hand if they want to speak. Peer’s must do as instructed by the therapists. Peer’s must not take notes, even if just for themselves. Peer’s are restricted from using any technology like a phone or mp3 during the session. Peer’s must not leave to go to the toilet.”
I endured such rules over twenty-one years of education but therapy is not school! My peer’s and I are not children. I am sure that all of the rules were created to develop a safe environment but in fact it felt forced and surreal, like no other space that I have been in before. It made me feel claustrophobic, unsafe and extremely uncomfortable.
On Thursday 25th February 2016 I had been very organised and felt extremely pleased with myself. I organised transport to and from therapy and home. I was ready to get something/discover something/feel something that day. I was super early. I sat outside contemplating whether to vape or smoke. There was a really petite and kind lady that joined me outside, it was cold but the sun was shining. She spoke freely to me and it turned out that she was also attending the, “Building Emotional Resilience” group. When called into the room, I noticed the female therapist again.
Every group session began with, “Mindfulness” breathing. I had never really participated in it before that day. I found closing my eyes in a room full of strangers extremely daunting but this time, I tried. It is intended to be a calming and relaxing stimulant, like meditating. The technique is used to begin the session to unite both the peers and professional’s, to alleviate any tension from the week prior and bring down our anxiety levels that build up from the moment we leave group until the moment we return. This very same, “Mindfulness” exercise, meditation and focus strategy is used to keep us calm, ease our body’s minds and dare I say it, souls, perhaps worked far to well! I could still hear my usual psychosis voices that have been present and consistent for sometime but completely hypnotised, my lids became heavier and heavier and I could not snap out of it once the exercise was concluded. I was in a bizarre state of conscious and unconsciousness, my body slumped forward.
The therapist picked up on this and I can only describe her behaviour as pushy and challenging. She accused me of not being interested in the group. She probably came to this conclusion because I had felt comfortable enough to share my reservations the week prior, I thought the whole point was that we were supposed to be honest? She said that my sleepiness was offensive! I was responding but I cannot remember what I said exactly. Initially I was so consumed with tiredness but fighting it and trying to communicate. When I started to regain consciousness, I was surprised that we were still having a conversation. I tried to explain that if I wanted to just sleep, I would have just stayed at home, instead of making some serious effort to get there. I tried to explain that I had fallen asleep in group the first time and, “Merchant” just let me be. Finally, I tried to explain that my old therapist called my seemingly random acts of tiredness, a self taught disassociation technique. My brain often shuts down like a computer, if certain buttons are pushed. I have done it for as long as I can remember. It’s a subconscious thing, but I now understand it. I even used to do it at school, when lessons were tough, bullies were ridiculing me or during exams. I would have assumed that this information was in my notes? Yes the female therapist was standing in for another, but I would expect that she would have glanced at the profiles of my peers and I prior, at least once! She pushed and she pushed and she pushed until I began to cry inconsolably for the next hour or so until I felt so uncomfortable, so rejected, I left rather hesitant about ever going back after being treated that way. Even my peers stuck up for me.
I went home distraught. I had really wanted to put my whole self into group that day, and embrace all things therapeutic, despite the therapists impression.
I well and truly hit the border, the border of the line, borderline. Feeling deflated, defeated, unworthy, misunderstood, rejected and unimportant. Rationalism had well and truly gone out of the window, the dark cloud was not only hovering over my head but had sucked me into a vortex of a black hole where it had engulfed itself around all of me, I was smothered and consumed. The voices were on super drive, completely charged up from all of the negativity that the therapist had bestowed upon me. They were very much present, well they have been for weeks now but prior to this, I am not sure why. Perhaps a few difficulties and complications with friends were the trigger. Perhaps just struggling with the adjustment of the group therapy dynamic as oppose to individual. Perhaps there is no reason at all and it is simply just my psychosis, something that I have to learn to live with.
I went home and immediately took thirty pills back to back with a bottle of cider. I then attacked and struck my left arm with a razorblade and then decided to go to bed. The voices wanted me to kill myself. I just wanted to sleep off the horrible experiences of the day and be done with it, erase the day and in many ways, erase myself. I decided to call my someone, as I imagined that I would be unavailable soon. Still very much upset, through sobs and tears I told him what I had done, he called the ambulance and told me to contact my best friend. Both the paramedics and my friend arrived and I have no recollection of what happened since then.
After about 24hrs in hospital I was given a medical, physical and psychological all clear and discharged. It was decided that I would have daily visits from, “The mental health home treatment team whilst in crisis.”
My someone stayed with me throughout the weekend, keeping me safe and distracted.
Now of rational mind, I think of my loved ones and I very much regret my lack of restraint., but I know that this fight is not over. When psychosis, hallucinations, depression and anxiety get a firm hold of me, I only see darkness and all things good are forgotten. I am angry that trying to recover resulted into such a catastrophic scenario, and only hope that the trust can provide more of a suitable type of recovery procedure for me in the future.

01/03/16 In addition to what happened at group, I received a phone call from the very same female therapist that had upset me so much that it lead to suicidal behaviour. She told me that it would be best if I do not go back to group therapy. I asked if we could continue the conversation and weigh up my options when I had support with me (for back up and evidence). She said that she had a lot of meetings and so I felt obliged to continue. She said that it has been acknowledged that group therapy seems to be creating more problems for me, rather then being heeling. All things considered (the overdose) it would be best if I did not return. I tried to explain that it was not the group itself that lead to my self destructive behaviour, but her and her alone. Her harsh words and accusation’s, her challenging tactics made me feel rejected and abandoned. She said that the way I interpreted her style of delivery was not intended to upset me. I thought to myself, “I’m sorry… is that supposed to be an apology?” She clearly has no idea of the magnitude of distress that she has caused me, the evidence being the fact that she called me. Not as a follow up. Not to offer me options but to simply reject me all over again. My place in group has now been revoked, I am officially banned, no longer welcome and it has been decided for me! The phone call could have made me repeat my actions of the week prior. Why did She think it a good idea to talk to me ever again, especially with such bad news. If home treatment team were not due any moment, I fear that I may have been thrown back into the darkness that she initially activated in me. Rejected by this woman, once again. Unbelievable!