How has stigma around mental health affected you?

For me, the first thing that comes to mind is how stigma affected my mum. This affected me because of the awareness mainly from my childhood, but still parts as an adult.
My mum has paranoid schizophrenia and having the title schizophrenia is enough, because of the stigma I remember around it. The stigma may not be as bad now as in my childhood, but I believe it’s still there, like any mental illness.
I remember as a teenager that schizophrenia would get bad press in the newspapers. It gave those with this condition a bad name, making it look like they were all dangerous, or violent if you had this condition, when it isn’t true. This condition would always be mentioned in the bold part of the newspaper when someone with this condition killed someone. I remember seeing this making the front page at times. This was newspapers in that time trying to give a sensational story line that sold their papers, not realising just what damage you were causing. I remember feeling really angry how the newspapers did this.
Thankfully now, newspapers have to watch how they word things, but I feel the damage from those days is still there. Do you?

People with schizophrenia are not violent people, but they can be a danger to themselves. But there are some people who will be quiet by withdrawing into themselves, as in my mum’s case.

I don’t like the word schizophrenia. But when I came to not liking this word, I don’t know. I don’t know if I hated this word when understanding my mum’s condition at a young age, or if it was the bad press if the newspapers.

But as I say, I think there is still stigma around mental health and because of this, it’s not something I will bring mum’s mental health particular condition into a face-to-face conversation with someone and mum is wary to do the same.

As you know I suffer with depression and anxiety. Depression has been good but anxiety shown itself since last year, as I blogged about. The past month or two, anxiety has not been too bad.
I have experienced stigma with my own mental health, things like people saying “chin up,” is not exactly helpful. Also, when you start talking about how you feel to some people, you realise from their responses they don’t get it after all as you first thought and that I am expected to snap out of it. Snapping out of it is not easy as you think.

It’s bad enough when people have to deal with their own mental health day in and day out, but when you receive unhelpful comments, cruel remarks, or just plain ignorance, that can create as much damage as the illness itself.

We have come a long way since when I was a child, but there is still more to be done. The royals are doing good with their Heads Together campaign I think.

How has stigma around mental health affected you?

Blog post share: “Shhh… That is stigma,” by Susan Walz.

A blog post share, called “Shhh… That is stigma,” by Susan Walz, at The Bipolar Writer. Susan Walz writes to share how damaging telling someone to Shhh can be, when talking about your own mental illness and not feeling supported.

You will find her post here: https://jamesedgarskye.com/2018/05/27/shhh-that-is-stigma/

Learning to cope with depression

Before I suffered with depression, I always understood that it would never go away, it was just about how each day is managed to make it the best day you possibly can. That you found a way to learn to live with it.

So what I am about to say next will probably surprise you, because it has me.

As you know, I have depression on and off over the years. Being on medication this time round has been longer than before. But I always thought that I could get rid of my depression once and for all. It wasn’t until this year at some point, that I accepted I had to learn to live with it and cope each day what it may or not bring. To make each day the best I can, (and I am still learning.)

Depression sucks

Depression sucks.JPG

My first post back after my blogging break I talked about going on a weekend holiday to Warwick and Stratford.

At the end of my first day after walking around Warwick, when at the hotel, my mood dipped. I felt low, even though that morning I felt great, the coach ride to Warwick being lovely and recognising the coach driver from another holiday I went on, so already a familiar face. I enjoyed the site-seeing earlier in Warwick and the hotel was lovely and my room relaxing, as I set about unpacking my suitcase and taking time out in my hotel room till it was time for dinner. But yet I felt down while in my room.

That is depression for you, it comes around without an invite and even though you appreciate and enjoy what you are currently doing, it can, or it will try to put a dampener on the holiday, or whatever else you are doing. But I have got to say, that when I felt as I did, I was not expecting it. Not after a good day I had.
I was then dreading a little going down and joining my coach group for my dinner, as I did not want to dampen anyone else’s day if they spotted the difference in me. But no one spotted and I felt I managed to mingle with the others either side of me better than I thought. I enjoyed my starter and dinner, but left the sweet alone as I was full and I made my way up to my room, wishing everyone a good night.
Back at my hotel room I was a little better, but there was still that depression cloud looming overhead. I watched Casualty, before deciding to have an early night, as I was tired.

The next morning, I felt great and my low-mood feeling I had the day before was gone. My uninvited low mood had quickly disappeared, as it arrived.

The way I am

Anxiety has been there for most of my life because of never feeling like I fit in, or belong anywhere. This feeling, along with being made to feel different started when I was in Junior School. No one wanted me on their team, but obviously I would have to end up on someones team. Even when I shown how good I was at non-stop cricket one time, which they were stunned, it did not change their views. I still was not wanted. This carried on all through Comprehensive School, but in addition to bullying which was mostly verbal. I only experienced physical a few times to start with, which was just pushing.
Through working life, thankfully not every job I did not feel alone, or not belong. There has only been one area where I was judged before they knew me and where I work currently, there has been (or probably still is) judging when they don’t really know me, because now I don’t speak unless I really have to, due to past issues at work with bullying and other things. But this time I don’t care if they judge. It’s their problem, not mine. The few that know me, only know me because I know they won’t shove it back in my face later, otherwise I keep myself to myself, which pisses off the others, because they have nothing to gossip about.
Through the lovely people I have met along the way personally, they are in my life because they mean something to me.
New friends I made through a place I stopped volunteering at, because no opportunities happened in the months I was there, I try to meet up with them, when I can. A lovely group who I feel comfortable with and who are patient with me because of my hearing loss. But underneath, I still have a little anxiety at times, because that just seems to be me. I am also tired after and can’t wait to go home to re-charge, because of the effort it requires me to lipread. While I am there, when conversation is in full swing, unless someone near to me either side starts a conversation separately with me, then I stay quiet, because I do not know what is going on. I cannot follow group conversations at all.

I will try to travel somewhere new, but just because I do it, does not mean I am always anxiety free. Sometimes anxiety likes to pay a visit and I don’t know why I am having that moment.
If it involves more than two buses to somewhere new and I do not know where to get off, I simply can’t do it, as anxiety-wise, it’s too much.

If I go somewhere that involves a crowd, I get anxiety because of not knowing who they are and I can feel claustrophobic, depending on the crowd and the situation. Putting myself in the same situation, does not make it go away. It never gets any easier.

People have said to me that I look confident, when I have said underneath I don’t feel confident, or have anxiety.

If I am with someone I know, but someone comes up to us because they know the person I am with, I will stand back and let them talk. I tend to find I am quiet because I don’t know them, because I worry about possible communication difficulties I may have. This is just the way I am.

If a random person came up to me in the street, anxiety will be there, because again, I will worry about the communication difficulties I could have, because of communication difficulties I know I have.

You will not find me in a swimming pool, because to do so, I would need to remove my hearing aids. I will not be around people without my hearing aids, because of communication difficulties I would have and my anxiety would be high.

I could easily isolate myself if I allowed, so I don’t have to worry about communication difficulties.
To be ME and remove my hearing aids.
It’s so easy being on my own, to be me and just relax.
To be me without the worry of the communication difficulties, or the worry of being judged before you they fully know me.
To be anxiety-free.

How lovely it would be, to be without anxiety, as it would make my life so much easier. The same if I wasn’t deaf. But that’s the way I am.

For the record, I hate my anxiety and my hearing loss. But I know they will never go away, as much as I want them to.