Guest Post (4): This is a depression blog

Guest writer number four is Michelle. Michelle’s blog, “This is a depression blog“, was last year included in Psych Central‘s ‘Best of the web – blog’, ‘Top ten depression blogs of 2014‘ (What a mouthful!).

PsychCentrals top ten 2014

I will let Michelle tell her story:

This is a Depression Blog

Sometimes I have a hard time separating myself from my mental disorders. That’s the thing about chronic ailments (In my case, dysthymia, a form of chronic, lower-level depression) – it is with you so persistently and for such a long time that you get tangled up in it. I forget where the mental illness ends and where I begin.

For a long time, before diagnosis, I thought my depression and anxiety were me, that they were simply flaws in myself. I was too sensitive and too anxious. I thought that if I were a stronger person, I might be able to navigate life without constantly feeling hurt or worried. If I were a better person, I might feel happy. At that point, I had forgotten what it was to be happy.

Despite the way mental illness is woven into my life, it did not make me who I am. It did not cause me to enjoy art, or music, or literature. It did not make me love macaroni and cheese. It did not give me a good sense of humour. Those things are all me. They are me when I’m suffering with my mental illness, and they are me when I forget about my mental illness entirely.

Though mental illness does not make me who I am, it has affected me. Some of the effects are not so great. It has caused me, at times, to isolate myself. It has led to me breaking into cold sweats when faced with making phone calls. It has meant that I’ve hid a part of myself from other people. But some of the effects are okay.  It has caused me to have great empathy for others with mental illness. It has given me good motivation to better myself. It has made me appreciate the good times.

So, who would I be without mental illness? I don’t know. Though I am always changing, I don’t expect I will ever know myself without mental illness. It isn’t something I expect to be ‘cured’ of. But I can look back in time and see how I fare now compared to then. 10 years ago, I didn’t even realize I had depression. 5 years ago I had no coping skills. Now, I am learning to be more positive and open to the world. I used to look to the future and feel hopeless, but now I can look forward and see opportunity for more growth. I am not always happy, but I can remember what it is like to be happy and work towards it.

Little by little, I disentangle from my mental illness a bit more. I have realized that my mental illness is not a sign that I am weak. If anything, my mental illness shows that I am strong. If I can endure all these years of mental illness, surely I can endure just about anything. In recognizing all these things about myself, I become a little bit stronger, and the burden of mental illness becomes easier to bear. I hope that one day I become so very strong it doesn’t feel like a burden at all.

 

Anxiety and Depression – Cancer!

Why on earth would anyone want to write about cancer? (If you or someone you know has cancer and feel the need to get more info on it and treatments, this site of the Cancer Council of New South Wales has lots of good info) Well my wife and I have just been informed that a very dear friend has been diagnosed with cancer. Fortunately we are told that it is the type of cancer you would want to choose if you had a choice, so good news on that front. However, the reason I am urged to write about it is because of the affect that just getting the news has on me.

Cancer has been quite a regular visitor in my life. My father’s mother died of cancer, as a youngster a good friend’s wife died of cancer, more recently a number of our friends have been through the trauma of dealing with it and the loss it causes. Much closer to home though, both my parents died of cancer when I was in my late twenties. They died six months apart. First my mother who had been diagnosed and operated on in the October(?), had chemo through November and December, then was told when she went for the last treatment that it was no good because her body had built and immunity to the treatment, she died in the June. Fortunately during that period although suffering much discomfort, she never really suffered much pain and never had to take strong pain killers, she was out shopping just three days before she died. She was also fortunate enough during that period to feel well enough for me to take her and my father on two trips to Singapore. It started off as one trip but they loved it so much that two months later I took them back again.

Singapore2 Singapore1 Singapore3

(Sorry had to throw the pics in – mind you, the ‘non food’ photos are post my parents visit)

Five months after my mother died, my father was in hospital for a minor bladder operation. He complained to the doctor about some pain he was getting in his hip….bone cancer. Four weeks later he died. For a person who was such a fighter, one can only assume that he just didn’t feel the desire to fight. Plus for him, he did get pain, lots of it. The last week he was on automated pain pain killers and struggled to maintain lucidity.

So every time I hear that someone has been diagnosed with cancer, even if only for a short while I feel rather melancholy, even if I don’t know the person. So when it is someone closer… And since I am rather pessimistic by nature it can be quite difficult for me to think positively. I’m sure that if I got diagnosed with cancer, I would have myself buried before I got out of the doctors surgery, do you see what a tough time my wife has with me?

Well I know it doesn’t really say much but I just felt the need to put this down.

Guest Post (3): by Lauren Hayley

Ok this is my third guest writer who has a blog ‘by Lauren Hayley‘. Lauren suffers with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) along with a couple of other not so friendly accomplices. She is also an artist and a student. Listen to her story:

by Lauren Hayle

byLaurenHayley

I have Borderline Personality Disorder, Cyclothymia and severe anxiety. I have these things, but it’s important to remember that I am not these things.

You cannot allow the disorders that you have become you, because you undoubtedly lose enough of yourself due to them already. BPD makes me angry, touchy and sometimes aggressive with the people around me; Cyclothymia makes me manic, depressed and all things in between; and anxiety takes away my basic human rights, with crippling fear smothering me and therefore stopping me from doing anything with my life.

These could be (and sometimes are!) soul-destroying things to live with, and so if this is the only way we can identify ourselves, what’s left? What’s the point of being here? Instead, you have to think about the things that you are, instead of the things that you have.

I am motivated and ambitious, I’m sarcastic beyond belief, and I’m creative, artistic and I’m detail-orientated in everything I do. I fall in love easy, but I don’t make good friends often; those that are in my life will be forever. I’m stubborn – way too stubborn – and don’t let arguments go as quickly as I should. But everything I do I do whole-heartedly, putting all my effort into it; and yes – I’m one of those people that are crazy enough to think they can make a difference in the world.

So instead of becoming my disorders, I try to manage these things that I have so that they don’t become a part of my being. I try to control the obstacles and hurdles that my life is constantly throwing at me; it’s not a fair war if you don’t even try to defend and protect yourself. It’s not as easy as I’d like it to be (if it was, mental illness would cease to exist), and it feels like a never-ending battle, because just when I think I have something mastered, something else comes along.

Another fear, another episode, another month where everything becomes too much.

But I keep trying, and that’s the main thing. I keep striving and pushing, waiting for the world to reward me and give me a break. I study as much as I can about my disorders, I research, read and I study for a mindfulness diploma. I learn to meditate, source remedies and techniques to practise, and I write almost every day on my blog relaying my thoughts and letting them all out of my already-cluttered-brain. I paint, I draw, I exercise, I cut out caffeine, and I make an extra effort with those I love.

Researching my disorders has given me an understanding of what’s going on in my mind which is absolutely priceless to me and mindfulness teaches me to think in the moment, not allowing the past or future to influence where I am right now. Meditation slows my breathing down alongside the absence of caffeine, helping my anxiety beyond belief. Creativity and writing makes my mind joyous, exercise makes my body joyous, and people – well they’re a support system that I wouldn’t want to do without. The biggest mistake too many of us make is pushing those that love us out of our lives.

But most of all, regardless of all these things, I remember who I am and what I am. I remind myself of all the things that make me, me. And my somewhat poor mental health definitely isn’t even a small part of that. That’s all I can do. Some may say that it’s all a distraction, but I believe it’s just a part of the journey to recovery. Like with any other illness, we’re all just looking for a cure.

Mental Health: Schizophrenia – Reblog

Yep you guessed it, I can’t get the “Reblog” to work! WordPress sent it to my Facebook page but not my blog, go figure. Anyhow, I was reading this post the other day and decided I wanted it on my blog. I haven’t done anything on Schizophrenia, I ain’t no expert, but the blog “A Journey With You – Surviving Schizophrenia” is written by someone on the inside. This post, ‘Since I came out…“, makes some great observations and is a good read, you can judge for yourself but certainly something to think about….

A Journey With You ~surviving schizophrenia

A journey with you - surviving schizophrenia

I don’t know how many weeks ago it was that I came out of the closet about my diagnosis. Twelve weeks? Sixteen weeks?

It hasn’t been long. I assumed a lot of things before coming out. One thing I assumed is that it would be a bigger issue with people than it has turned out to be. Of course, I can’t really tell what people are actually thinking, and it will be some time before I see if they dismiss me in conversations and in other ways, because they perceive my opinions as less now that they know I have paranoid schizophrenia.  I will know more about this with more time and more experiences with the people who now know my diagnosis.

All that aside, one thing that I was very surprised about, was that I don’t absolutely love and agree with all advocates for schizophrenia. I thought that all of the people advocating for the reduction of stigma, more understanding, and better treatment would all be on one happy carriage together heading in the same direction.

Big disappointment, because we are not in the same carriage and we are definitely not heading in the same direction.

There are advocates that push holistic healing of schizophrenia without the use of medications. I have said this before, without medication I would be dead. Dead doesn’t give you the chance to say a treatment isn’t working. Dead is dead, no second chances. I find people who push holistic type treatments on other people to be irresponsible. There is no way of knowing if someone’s schizophrenia is in remission and could spring up at any time bringing voices that are cruel or even dangerous. Remission is not a cure. Remission can turn to active in a day. These advocates also make schizophrenia seem like something you can overcome. I can’t overcome a brain disease. I’m wired for it. Therapy isn’t going to make it go away just like exercise and vitamins aren’t.

There are also advocates that say and use words and phrases that continue to stigmatize people with mental illnesses. Calling each other paranoid schizophrenics instead of a person with paranoid schizophrenia (I occasionally make this slip, but try very hard to correct myself). We are people with paranoid schizophrenia we are not defined solely by our illness.

There are advocates that believe and perpetuate the myths about schizophrenia in their writing. For instance they will have a character who suffers from schizophrenia and have that character want to kill someone. We get enough of that in Hollywood without finding it in the mental health community.

So, I am new to this life as an person who is open and honest about living with schizophrenia and in some ways the surprises have been good, but in other ways, I find that I get angry and want my voice to be heard as loudly as some others, because I think I have something important to say.

If I had a platform what would I say?

Get a good doctor, take your medications, limit stress in your life, surround yourself with love, and compassion, find a hobby, use your mind, take care of your body, and laugh as much as possible at yourself and the situations you find yourself in.  Be bigger than your illness every day, by loving other people or giving something, no matter how small, or seemingly insignificant, to the world. You are valuable. You are loved. You have talent and you matter. As sure as there is water in the ocean you matter to this world you were born into.  One last thing, know you are not alone, even in the most terrifying moments, we’ve been there and made it through, you can too.

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