5th June 2019, Trial #1 – “Working on Us” Mental Health Prompts

Beckie, over at Beckie’s Mental Mess, is starting on a new prompt series called, Working on Us.

For today’s prompts, there are two prompts which you can either just do one, or both. For details of these prompts and how to play along, please do see todays post at: https://beckiesmentalmess.blog/2019/06/05/june-5-2019-trial-1-working-on-us-mental-health-prompts/

I have decided to do just one of these prompts and so I have chosen prompt #1 – Question:

When you first found out that you had a mental illness/disorder. Explain how this new revelation regarding your health affected you?

My mental health is depression and anxiety.
Depression has been the main symptom, because anxiety came second. But anxiety over the years has proved to be an issue at times, as my depression.

I wouldn’t say it has been a new revelation for me, because I always knew it was there, or not quite right. I just never did anything about it, because as I did as a teenager, I just soildered on and as a teenager, I wouldn’t have been aware about how my own mental health was in general then, even though I seen the trials of my mum’s mental health.
I was a person who got my head down, hoping to get through each difficult day. My long standing readers will know about my childhood difficulties. But for those that are new, then click on childhood in the tags section of my blog, because explaining it here would make it a very long post.

Fast forward after divorce, my mental health went down more and I felt I wasn’t coping. I referred myself to counseling, for the rape and about that relationship in general, which mum supported me on, by coming down on the bus with me and waiting in the waiting area, while I had my counseling. The counseling helped for that time then.

Another moment in time later, which then I was in a relationship. (The relationship that never went anywhere and what turned out to be a shocking later, that I discovered by accident some years later after having nothing to do with him.) During some point in those first two years I think it was now, one night, in my own bed, which I was on my own, I had a flashback of the time I was raped in my first relationship. It felt so real. When I woken up, I found myself in the same position, so god knows if I had been crying out in my dreams. It was real enough in my dreams, but to wake up and find myself like that, made it more sickening. I was hugely triggered and traumatised all over again.
Further counseling at a rape crisis centre, with the support then of the boyfriend I was with. This counseling went into areas of conversation that was not covered in my counseling elsewhere I had the first time round on this area of my life. I can’t remember if I was on medication then. I don’t think I was. But the counseling really helped, for that time.

Then in another area of my life, (before the above flashback) while still in this relationship, had issues with neighbours, while in a council property. The stress of it all brought me to a new time low. I lost a lot of weight with it. At this point, I was on antidepressants and I was scared to take them I remember. But the doctor reassured me of my concerns. My then boyfriend, supported me in that appointment, in case there were things that needed repeating later, with things being a blur and numb. I wasn’t long in getting a private property and this is how I ended up in private properties ever since. I can’t remember how long I was on antidepressants, as some of that time is now a blur.

The last time I was on antidepressants, were at a time I blogged about here. That was when my old workplace broke me that much, that I could take no more. I was depressed and I was having lots of panic attacks. God knows how I still managed to keep going to work. I was that messed up, I really shouldn’t have been there. But I kept doing my shifts and doing what I automatically seem to do as a child.
I also had counseling, which towards the end delved in my childhood. I was having triggers when going into this area and because NHS counseling only lasts so long and because of the nature from childhood, it had to be treaded carefully. This counsellor said because if what I seen as a child and the other things in regards with what dad was like, that I likely to have PTSD. To hear this being said to me shocked me, even though it made sense.

I was on antidepressants longer than the doctor would have liked. This was because I did not want to start weaning off then when I was having driving lessons. Then when I did not do anymore, because I couldn’t deal with it any further, plus I had a double-death in the family; my cousin and her husband.
Then, as you know, followed by discovering the true horrors of the ex-boyfriend and finding out what he truly was by accident in a Google search not related to him, there was no way I could think of reducing my antidepressants. So antidepressants were reduced some months later, even though it was still a difficult time.

Present day, I can still feel lows at times. But I am feeling particularly low since my first day in new job. But I remain medication free, since I last came off them, as mentioned above.

I take each day as it comes. With the now stresses I have had since living here, that you know about and being more of a carer for my mum than I ever been, lists are becoming more my friend, because since February, I am finding myself more forgetful then ever before. I have used a diary for years, but a list is in addition to my diary.
If I have a lot to think about in a day, then a list is created and placed on my coffee table. I will also take the list with me, if required.

I hope this post gives an idea, as it has been very hard to write this one. Not because of the topic, as this is now easy with the counseling and support I have had over the years. It’s just a bit grey in areas, as I forget things and I found just writing this post, in how best to get my words down. So feeling brain tired, is probably the best way to put it.

Thank you for reading, if you got to the end of this post.

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?

Book review: “Untangled: A story of resilience, courage and triumph,” by Alexis Rose.

“Untangled: …” by Alexis Rose is her own true life story, recalling her life of unimaginable abuse and explicit threats. Alexis Rose repressed these memories of her past, until a family tragedy forced her to face what her life had been.

This book gives a note to the readers before the story starts, to warn how it could be triggering because of descriptions of sexual and physical abuse.

A history of abuse, torture and threats to maintain her silence or be killed, could no longer be denied.
This book is her story of facing the truth and risking the consequences of breaking the silence, to start a healing journey and to learn to live her life. Alexis Rose had to also learn to accept the effects of the trauma that echo through her daily life as PTSD.

Through reading this book, it shows just how our mind dissociates while being abused.
Dissociation is something I have experienced as you know from my blog posts. But to experience what Alexis Rose had all through her life, I could not imagine. This book certainly lives up to the title of resilience and it gives hope to other victims who have suffered trauma and abuse, that you can get through it too. This book helped me to understand more about PTSD and the way my own PTSD had effected me, when I was struggling with mine at the beginning of my counselling sessions, when it was raw to start off with and during, that I revealed to my counsellor.

When I got to page 204, I shed tears of relief as Alexis Rose found the missing link with her counsellor.

I have been following Alexis Rose’s blog, ‘Untangled’ for some time now, which you can find here at: https://atribeuntangled.com/blog/

Alexis also did an interview you may like to read at, Vilina Christoph.

#ITSNOTOK

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6th to 12th February 2017, is “Sexual Abuse and Sexual Violence Awareness Week.” I have spoken recently in a couple of posts about rape. The first post was rather brief in ‘Unseen.’ I then spoke about it a bit more, in my post called, ‘To feel clean.’

Sexual abuse and violence is unacceptable and this type of abuse can happen to anyone, all ages, any gender, ethnicity or cultural background.

Sexual abuse and violence is unacceptable.

Perpetrators need to know that this will NOT be tolerated and more action is being taken.

The awareness week is an opportunity for everyone to participate in a discussion and raise the awareness on this matter.

For events and ways to get involved, visit: http://sexualabuseandsexualviolenceawarenessweek.org 

For help and support:

Women’s Aid Integrated Service 24 hr helpline: 0808 800 0340
Topaz Centre (Males and females): 0845 600 1588
Nottinghamshire Rape Crisis Centre (NRCC) (Men and women) – 0115 9507696
Victim Support – 0808 168 9111
ChildLine – 0800 1111
http://thesurvivorstrust.org/ – 0808 801 0818
http://napac.org.uk/ – 0808 801 0331
http://www.SurvivorsUk.org (Males) – 020 3598 3898

To feel clean

(Content warning: rape.)

I first revealed, very briefly in this post, that I had been raped. Even a previous blog I used to write, I never revealed that word. Only a few people knew and only a couple knew the full details. I won’t go into fuller details, in the regards to the rape, than already said in that post and I never will. But what I will reveal is how I had to do certain things to feel clean, after I left that relationship and moved back home.

I felt dirty and my mission was to replace every clothing I had worn while in that relationship, with something new. Washing them wasn’t enough. Every new piece I bought, I would put it separately from my other clothes because I did not want them to  touch. I had contamination in my head. Although not quickly as I would have liked due to low-income and a debt I was left with, by him, I eventually got there and all those old clothes were gone. And I do mean everything was new, right from undies to nightwear and everything in between. It was the only way to feel clean.

Rape affected me big time, but not as much now as it did at the beginning. People have said for me to report it, in the past. But I just can’t. The fear and the sickness was way too intense and if I was to do it now, it would still be the same. I have come hell of a long way, to go back to how I felt then. At the end of the day, I am out of that relationship and all I do is aim to try to keep moving forward, ever since.