World Health Day: Mental Health Matters

Did you know, that every county council in the UK has a Health and Wellbeing board?

No, I didn’t either, not until a few months ago.

I spoke to a few Councillors – some of the representatives who are members of said board – and was met with the following sentiment from one in particular:

“Physical health will always be more highly valued and deemed more important than mental health.”

Wasn’t the best sentiment to be hearing (especially considering it was on #TimetoTalk day!) from an individual who was committed to helping improve services and support in my area. Continue reading

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Mental Health Recovery is a Marathon.

I’ve been on the mental health recovery train now for a nearly half a decade. Its had its ups and downs, I’ve been here there and everywhere. Its been one hellova journey, and one that isn’t complete just yet. In fact, I suspect it will be one I’ll be on for the rest of my life. That is because mental health recovery is a marathon – not a sprint. It is about finding your own path and own tools to achieve it and allowing your life to fall into that place that you can achieve happiness – whatever happiness means to you.

But this post isn’t about me – or at least, not directly. It’s about Steve.

For those that don’t know, Steve has been my boyfriend for almost two years now. Its been a bit of a learning curve for him (to say the least) and has been dedicated from day one in learning what he can about mental health and supporting me where he can. Its been tough at times, and a few steps backwards intermingled with many, many steps forward – and now he is taking a step that leaves me incredibly proud.

He is running the Brighton Marathon for Mind.

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When it comes to running, I am utterly useless. The rule of thumb is, if you see me running – get running too – there has been some sort of dinosaur/alien apocalypse and we all need to get outta there sharpish. Steve on the other hand, is a natural. He has the strength (physically and mentally) to push through and keep going – no matter what.

So last year, he decided to sign up with Mind for the Brighton Marathon. 6 months of training for 26 miles and however many-minutes of running.

When I first had my breakdown, Mind were the people there for me when I needed someone to listen, someone to understand. My local Mind were always on the end of the phone. When a door was closed in my face, there were there to help open another. Without their support, its not too much to say I’m not sure where (or if) i’d be here typing this today.

I’ve seen their work first hand, and have been involved in a project or two of late as well – and I couldn’t think of a worthier cause. So this post is for Steve, and Mind – and an ask for anyone that can spare a penny or pound and help support him in the marathon and help others as a result via Mind.

I (and he, I suspect as he doesn’t know i’m typing this!) would be truly grateful.

So thank you, in advance; and all the best of luck to my wonderful boyfriend – not that he needs it. Because he is awesome.

Sponsor Steve for the Brighton Marathon here.

“It is with great pleasure that I run for Mind in the Brighton Marathon.

As you may or may not know, my girlfriend Sarah suffers from Bipolar, and over the years has received so much support from Mind, without their service I fear that she would not be here with me today.

1 in 4 people suffer with some sort of mental health condition. This may include you, your loved ones, your “Sarah’s”.

I am running for those that cannot, in acknowledgement of the work that Mind so tirelessly carry out and the difference it can make to the lives of sufferers and those around them … thank you Mind!

Steve”

 

Media Responsibility and Mental Health

When it comes to mental health and the media, it is safe to say that the two have had a tumultuous relationship over the years (to say the very least). Some organisations and outlets have really improved their practices and procedures – and have helped the mental health community take great strides in demolishing the discrimination that surrounds them.

However after recent communications/dealings with two local organisations in Essex, I am saddened to say that for some they have become incredibly lost en route to that road of improvement. Continue reading

Mental Health Mockery.

Sigh. You’d think being so vocal about mental health I still wouldn’t have to (A) see ass-hat articles like this shared on Facebook, and (B) that anyone would find this remotely amusing making light and a mockery of those with a mental health condition.

25 Things That Will Piss Off Your Friends With OCD”  is mostly a selection of images that for the large part just show general incompetency and idiocy by workers/manufacturers/construction teams (with the odd terrible Photoshop thrown in for good measure).  Which, under a different heading, is essentially your standard BuzzFeed-esque internet contribution by people with a little too much time on their hands.

Alas, the heading as is:

Continue reading

10 Reasons to ‘STOP the Cuts and START to care’ about Mental Health.

“Mental health conditions don’t discriminate – so I ask you, Mr Hunt – why do you?”

Mental Health Matters: STOP the Cuts, START to Care.

Its been almost a month since I started a campaign for Jeremy Hunt to sit up and take notice to the chaos his cuts are causing to the service users within the NHS.

Waiting lists for waiting lists, lives put on hold, misdiagnosed and mismedicated time and time again. I have spoken to so many people across the country that have felt abandoned by the very people that are supposed to be there for them when they need them most.

Here are some excerpts from the campaign thus far, and reasons why people have signed and shown support. Whether directly affected, or affected as a result of NHS incompetence – their voices should matter yet are the ones that are constantly ignored and dismissed.

Please share, and let Jeremy Hunt know the damage he is doing directly to 25% of the population, and to the countless others that are affected as a result of his incompetence and lack of compassion.

If you have  a story you’d like to share, do get in touch, leave a comment, or share via twitter using #DearJeremyMH  Continue reading

Until next time…

Find yourself a penny or tuppence (yes I said tuppence. Yes I feel old now.) – or any slimline coin for that matter. If you try and balance it, you’ll find that depending on the environment or conditions surrounding said coin, it might be a bit of a tough act. A gust of wind from an open window, or a passing person in a rush-to-wherever could make or break it; rolling away to a dark dusty corner or flopping flatly in a daring and defiant manner. Either outcome – or whatever the journey the coin takes – a ‘head’ or ‘tails’ outcome is always going to occur. A basic “X = (A or B)” type equation.

Bipolar, in a similar way, is just like that coin. A balancing act between the ‘heads’  of mania and the ‘tails’ of depression. There are times when things are in the very grey area of ‘normality’ in what can sometimes be a very black and white condition, but a change (chemical or otherwise) occurs leaving a inevitable fall in either direction.

Continue reading

The ‘How Not To’ Guide to Mental Health and Marketing.

Dear Marketing Executives…everywhere….

I say everywhere, as more and more what I feared was an isolated incident turns out to be a worldwide epidemic of imbecility.

Perhaps I have watched far too much Star Trek and evoke a ‘Spock Logic’ approach to my life as a whole, and as someone who has worked in the marketing industry for a number of years, lets just say a good dose this goes a long way. (As does empathy, a moral capacity, and an IQ of something higher than a spoon, but I fear I may be asking too much).

I’ll surmise it simply for you – capital letters et al – then explain said simple point as easily as possible – we don’t want any more confusion added to the already abhorrent mix.  Continue reading

A message to the Essex NHS Director: “Failings, Failings, and more Failings”

Mental Health Matters: STOP the Cuts, START to Care. 

 

Dear Christine,

I called prior to Christmas and was informed that you were out of the office. As I left a message and call not returned I assumed this could be resolved in the New Year. I have also been using this time to battle my own health and attempting to get some sort of support which, given that this email exchange exists, is not the easiest of feats to say the very least.
I do indeed wish to pursue this complaint, and will list complaints below, given that currently I am in no state to call or discuss due to ill health. Ill health that perhaps could have been prevented due to better care, and telephone calls and the receiving of messages seem to be so unreliable these days and a list I feel would sufficiently cover the various failings.
dearjeremyMH

The #DearJeremyMH Campaign.

As of this coming February, it will be five years since my mental breakdown. Its been a long journey for me. I’ve had my ups, downs, and my every-which ways when it came to rediscovering any sort of self and well-being.

Its still a journey i’m on today, but I am without a doubt on a more positive path than I once was. I have been mis-medicated and misdiagnosed, ignored and ill-informed. I have been abandoned by a system that if I had been suffering with anything other than something mental health related, I would have received the treatment and support I needed. Scratch that… the treatment and support I deserved.

Reflecting on my many experiences and episodes dealing with the ‘professionals’, I am sorry to say that in half a decade, very little has changed at all. The only change I seem to be witnessing, is a change for the worse.

I speak to so many people that are and were just like me. Feeling lost and alone with no-where to turn. Over and over people of all walks of life and all ages abandoned by those that in some cases are a last hope and can literally save lives.

The experts no longer seem to hold expertise. There are waiting lists for the waiting lists. Those in charge of looking after our healthcare, simply do not seem to care.

I’m taking action. Action with bigger gestures and louder voices. But this, dear friends, is something that I cannot do alone.

Introducing the “#DearJeremyMH” campaign.

I have put together a campaign encouraging Jeremy Hunt to take notice and start making a difference when it comes to mental health services in the UK. This will involve emails, letters, stories, blog posts, all of which including personal experience and the necessary facts and figures (with of course, some witty retorts roped in for good measure) to get the ball rolling.

There is also an official campaign via change.org - “Jeremy Hunt: Mental Health Matters – STOP the cuts, START to care.” ready to be signed and shared.

But for this to work, and for Mr Hunt to take action and steps to improve our services, I need your stories and voices too.

If you (or someone you know) had a bad experience with a mental health service provider – be it poor care, stigma, bad advice, excessive waiting lists, down-right discrimination, please let me know.

Whether government choose to like it or not, we are people too.  People who deserve to be seen, valued, and counted in society.

Let me know your experiences via the #DearJeremyMH hashtag, or via the comments on the change.org petition (or both, if you’re feeling generous!) If your story is personal but still want to make a difference, drop me an email or message below, I appreciate mental health is difficult to talk about, and you can still contribute anonymously if you wish.

Every story helps, and by sharing yours we really can make a difference.

dearjeremyMH

“It’s Easy”

It’s easy for me…

It’s easy to say that I tripped and fell,

Easier than admitting i’m living in hell.

It’s easy to try and justify,

Easier than the wondering and questioning why.

Easy to blame the washing and cooking,

Hiding the tears when no-one is looking,

It’s easy to hide and cover up bruises,

Existing each day behind my façades and my ruses,

It’s easy to wait and hope that they’ll change,

Whilst the life I once knew seeming distance and strange.

Its easy to say “i’m fine” and “I’ll cope”

Easier than realising that perhaps, there’s no hope.

It’s easy to hide the pain in a vault,

Easier than admitting to the hurt and assault.

It’s easy to put up with the abuse and the rape,

Easier than realising that maybe for me -

its too late.

It’s easy for you…

It’s easy to believe the lies you’re told,

Easier still than being bold.

It’s easy for you to to buy excuse after excuse,

Easier still than seeing the truth.

It’s easy for you to turn away,

It’s easy to lie and think “she’ll be okay”.

It’s easy for you,  to wonder what you could have done,

But it wasn’t as easy as you biting your tongue.

It’s easier for you to hope it’ll get better and ‘wait’

But that ease is soon gone when it turns out -

you were too late.

It is never to late to help change the lives of the millions of women and girls across the world that are suffering every day. Make a difference by visiting the “End Violence Against Women“ website.

stop violence

 

NB:  Whilst these poems do draw on some personal experience, it is best to clarify that they are not current ones. I am not currently in an abusive relationship – I am in a very positive healthy one, one where my other half encourages me speaking out and trying to make a difference where possible.