A Bit About Harm OCD

Great post.

Beyond Highbrow - Robert Lindsay

This is particularly disturbing OCD subtype as the person has thoughts, feelings and even urges of violence to themselves or others. They can be quite intense, and they often feel like they are on the verge of doing the violent act. They feel absolutely terrified much of the time. Many of them feel like killers and develop a personality that says they are a killer of some sort.

I’ve done therapy with a guy who was convinced he was a serial killer. Of course he’d never hurt a soul and he never would, but I could not convince him of that. The obsessions were powerful, continuous, and 24-7. They were so persistent and tenacious that he had given up all hope of resisting them. They had also become quite strong in that the illness was actually telling him or ordering him to commit the violence.

He had suffered from this…

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Fighting back the stigma that “People with mental illness are just lazy”

Hear hear! Even when I was in a psychiatric hospital I didn’t claim benefits. Fortunately, my partner was working and I didn’t feel the need to apply. I have a Master’s degree and a full time job. I have functioned highly and hardly functioned at all but still suffered greatly. I feel sorrow for those who lack compassion even if they don’t fully understand because they do not experience the full beautiful range of emotions which is what makes us human.

Dearest Someone,

Recently I published a blog for the Huffington Post’s Young Voices, and the response was overwhelmingly positive – in fact I’m still in awe of the lovely comments, pledges to fight stigma and speak out. However, some were not so lovely. Unfortunately in this world there is always someone who will disagree with you, or have opposing, yet strong opinions, but this time I’m not going to stand by and let them shout about something when, in my opinion, they are completely wrong.

Huffington Post UK shared my blog –  ‘Mental Illness doesn’t make you any less human – don’t be afraid to speak up’  – via their social media streams, which I am incredibly thankful for! But, this was one of the comments the post received:

“Depression!!…Didn’t have time to get depressed when i was young,to busy fighting a war and working 60 hours a week to raise…

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DBT Skills: Empowering Ourselves Through Skills

Great to see others benefiting from DBT. It saved me (or rather I saved myself with DBT) and I do not have BPD, it’s such a wide reaching therapy. Great post!

Pride in Madness

I can be Wise 🙂

My time with DBT Path is almost done 😦 I have done all the modules and my life is forever changed. Probably the most important lesson I learned from Debbie and Amanda is that having DBT skills is empowering!

When I first entered DBT on my own a few years ago, when I purchased the McKay, Wood and Brantley book, my focus was changing myself. I needed to change to keep my relationship together and it was all about fixing myself for others. I wanted people to be able to tolerate being around me. I admit that I also went into DBT Path with a similar attitude (“I must fix myself”) but I very quickly realized that DBT is about me. DBT is about empowerment. DBT is about me having confidence in myself and my interactions with my world. I hope I am…

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The Curse of Self-Doubt & Self-Loathing

The cause of the self doubt and the lack of diversity in the representation of mental illness is the exact reason why you should never give up on having your voice heard. The world needs to change.

BrizzleLass

EyesI’m writing this about 11pm on Friday night, for the second night in a row I cannot concentrate on my book (a really good book, I’d like to add). The problem I have is that right now I am full to the brim with self-doubt.

This self-doubt started a little while back. I had applied to take part in a one day Story Camp run by Time To Change, it’s purpose was to help people who want to tell their story to it right and do it well. I was turned down “due to an overwhelming demand” it stung, and made me realise my writing isn’t good enough.

I’ve also had a number of mental health articles/blogs turned down by the likes of Huffington Post and The Guardian who a number of bloggers I deeply respect also write for.

About the same time, I was really starting to notice how…

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How busy is too busy?

I have never had a fantastic social life. Depression, anxiety or anorexia convinced me to stay away from others, favouring my blanket(s), hamsters and cups of tea (I refer to this as the ‘nest’) over socialising and actual verbal communication. It was hard to maintain friendships because I always felt ‘who would want to know me’ well now I know I’m pretty awesome times have to change!

This week has been a whirlwind. 35 gruelling hours at work with a  multitude of WP_20150911_007problems/difficulties to overcome. Couple that with cinematic outings, cinematic innings, bake off watching and Mental Health Voices curating I am exhausted. This weekend I will be Catherine Cookson -ing (don’t ask) and heading to Oxford before another packed week at work followed by planning for a trip to America. Holy crap, I am going to America.

My usual day involves a good four hours of ruminating or planning in the ‘nest’ watching TV and thinking through all the things I need to do tomorrow. Whilst I know that my mental health has been improved because of the fantastic friends I have gained, I still feel I am worrying because I haven’t worried enough! Another part of me is squeaking ‘but we saw people yesterday…..what if they get sick of me’.  I’m still learning to trust in myself that I can get through a day spontaneously without some terrible event happening and that people might like a continued relationship with me.

My last relapse began shortly after we moved to Bristol. I had a job but I had no family or friends here and hardly knew the city. I didn’t feel like I belonged and lacked the support and positive aspects of friendship. It was difficult due to the depression etc to maintain the relationships from University and my life in Cornwall.

Another part of me feels guilty because I usually spend my evenings with my boyfriend but have been busy lately so haven’t seen as much of him as usual. I know he sees how happy I am when I do finally get home that he doesn’t mind but I still feel guilty all the same.

WP_20150823_006Ultimately, I think it comes down to a change in routine. I love routine. Same cup, same route to work, set times for tea and coffee. I like sameness.  I adjusted to the radio show schedule so that I never felt as though I was doing something I wasn’t meant to do. It was more about helping others rather than my selfish desire for friendship building. This is a positive change. An amazing change in the quality of my life but change is unsettling and the anxiety hasn’t quite abated.

The thing with fear, if it’t not justified then you need to do what makes you fearful again and again. So here comes more social gathering, trips to exciting countries and to a life outside the ‘nest’.

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Those That Care

This is the first weekend in a very long time that my boyfriend has been away. I encouraged him to go visit a friend in London. It’s been a difficult week for me and thus it’s been a difficult week for him too.

He doesn’t view himself as a carer. He thinks supporting me is his duty as my partner. HeWP_20150905_002(1) does a lot for me. I feel guilty at times but I am slowly becoming more independent and whilst I come to rely on him less it doesn’t weaken our relationship it strengthens it.

My boyfriend  listens to the horrible dreams I have and hugs me so I know I’m safe. He does most of the grocery shopping and cooking. He drove 100 miles to visit me every weekend that I was in hospital and continues to monitor my progress. He worked during the year that I was unable. He even recorded a beautiful message on an I-Pod for my Christmas present to cheer me on. It comes on sometimes when I am walking to work and I smile and giggle to the bemusement of passers by.

I can tell when he worries about me. Whilst he listens to me, he still doesn’t have any first hand experience of self harm, intrusive thoughts or anorexia. He does find it upsetting and whilst I have learnt to share these feelings with him, it then becomes difficult for him to hear these things. It’s important that I remind myself that I do not chose these thoughts or urges. The shame I feel is unjustified and thus I must go against it again and again and share with him. The more I share the less intense his fear and mine, It is when I am not sharing that things become very difficult.

So this a big thank you to my boyfriend and all his support. I wouldn’t be here today without him.  Who supports you? How do they support you? Do they also feel that they are not a carer?

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Want Your Picture In My Music Video to Raise Awareness About Mental Illness? Selfies work!

As soon as I have two minutes spare. This will be happening!

wehaveapples

Hey loves!

As a lot of you know, I’m a singer/songwriter in New York City with a fabulous life…. and a mental illness! (the two can go together! And errr.. it wasn’t always that way! LOL) I am so passionate about mental health awareness, ending the stigma, and connecting with other warriors like you! I am also writing a musical about these topics.

What I want to know is: Can I have a picture of you (selfie or taken by another) for a music video that will raise mental health awareness? I’ll put instructions below for what I need you to do in the selfie or picture you submit, but first I want to tell you more about the project and its potential!

More about the mental health musical I’m writing, We Have Applescan be found on the website. You can also hear songs there. (But the…

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Sample WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan)

Life after BPD

I was just sorting through some paperwork at home and came across the WRAP (Wellness Recovery Action Plan) that was given to me when I was discharged by my CPN from the care of the NHS mental health teams.

I was given a blank template and a completed version sample to give me ideas and help me complete it.

I wanted to share the sample with you because it contains lots of information and tips which I hope a lot of people will find useful, and they may not have access to this sort of thing.

Here it is, page by page;

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I hope this can be helpful to someone.

Take care all!

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Are diagnoses/labels a good thing?

I don’t like labels.  If I tell you I have suffered with depression, anxiety, anorexia, mood swings, traits of OCD, self harm and intrusive thoughts, this tells you very little about what it means to be me. Saying that these things affect my life creates even more anxiety because people will have made assumptions about me and my life which may be far from the truth.

Every mental illness is a spectrum. We all have elements of the traits of mental illness because we are human and we have brains. If your issues are significantly troublesome to have a considerate impact on your life and you seek medical advice you may be diagnosed. There is no denying that diagnosis can help lead towards treatment but there is so much co-morbidity that it can be difficult to neatly pigeon hole your illness. I don’t refer to my problems as the anorexia, the self harm, the intrusive thoughts etc I refer to it as my illness. It isn’t many things it is one thing: something that stops me living my life. It looks  bit like this:

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They are greatly intertwined. My mood swings ranged from severely depressed to elated with a great sense of underlying anxiety which resulted in panic attacks. My low body weight and the ‘trapped’ feeling of anorexia contributed to my depression. The anorexia was a way of managing anxiety. The compulsions around counting were a way of managing anxiety. I could go on and on and on.

Everything is intertwined. Pull on one issue and the others pull back. I was hospitalised for anorexia and began an 8 month long journey through DBT to reach recovery. The diagnosis was anorexia but the treatment helped me address the other issues. Initially, the others got stronger and I was nearly transferred to a general psychiatric ward because my self harm was becoming too dangerous. Perseverance and a willingness from the treatment team to help address the other issues meant that I was able to firstly overcome my eating disorder but also some of the other issues I face.

There’s been a lot of talk around the Horizon episode of OCD. I am scared to watch. Prior to my stay in hospital I was suffering from compulsions to count mostly around food and drink  but it did spill into other areas of my life which ended in my not eating or drinking. The ‘rules’ went something like this.

Imagine a banana. I could not start eating the banana until it was a multiple of ten past the hour (1:20, 1:30, 1:40 for example). Eating the banana must take 10 minutes. It must be split into 10 pieces.mo Each piece must take a multiple of ten chews subject to a minimum of 30. A banana was relatively low on the anxiety level but these rules applied to everything. Trying to pour a glass of water so that I could make sure these rules were followed led me to tears. What if there was some left over that wouldn’t reach 10? Could I drink at all or would I be able to stop.?Would these bring about all those fear that something would happen to me and those I loved? What if I ate peas? Could I eat 10 at a time and be ok as long as each mouthful was a multiple of ten minimum of 30 or would I have to eat 1 pea at a time and each pea would need to be 30 chews?

It was exhausting. There was lots of discussion in hospital as to whether this was a sign of the eating disorder or of OCD. Half of my treatment team felt one way and the other half the other. I was never formally diagnosed but it was a barrier to treatment. I remember having a discussion with my therapist whilst simultaneously counting and him shouting at me to stop but his shouting was distracting me from counting resulting in a panic attack.

I worry that because it wasn’t diagnosed people assume that it is therefore of no concern that it doesn’t affect my life. I certainly suffered feelings of great shame because I felt it was something separate but others couldn’t agree. I valued their opinion over mine. We all suffer to some degree but I feel like so much reliance is on fitting the diagnostic criteria that we lose sight of the fact that the person who suffers should be the one to determine whether or not it is something that stops them from living.

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Putting Recovery Into Perspective

It’s been a difficult transition leaving mental health services and most of it stemmed from the worry that I wasn’t doing as well as I believed and that it was a self sabotage move. I felt the same when I left hospital, maybe I was happy because it gave space for my illness to grow stronger. There is still a lot I continue to struggle with which has become much more prevalent due to the anxiety surrounding my discharge. Fatalistic mind crept in and WP_20150713_007(1) (1)I obsessed over my current difficulties and not the progress I have made. The contrast between each list is great. Perhaps you can write your own and step back and think ‘You know what, I’m getting there and getting there in my own time’.

Things I struggle with:

  • feeling full after large meals
  • Changes in my sight, seeing shadows when they are not there or light level changes.
  • Food shopping for more than one meal at a time
  • Seeing/hearing about other people who are acutely unwell
  • Urges for obsessive counting
  • Anxiety
  • To make my own lunch
  • Worrying that what I am eating is not ‘right’
  • Thoughts of self harm

Things that no longer control my life:

  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Self harming 20/30 times a day in various ways.
  • Counting every bite and sip to be multiples of tens, minimum limit etc
  • Time limits for meals/snacks
  • Limit of 1/2 a cup of water a day etc
  • Weighing myself every hour of the night
  • Exercising to affect my weight
  • I can hold down a full time job
  • Make my own breakfast and drinks
  • Speak more openly
  • 10683506_10204259422878784_8403151858122599182_oCommunicate better with friends and colleagues
  • Less fearful of men
  • Better self confidence
  • Respect for myself
  • Have taken my medication as prescribed for the longest time
  • No longer in a damaging relationship
  • Prioritising health over grades/work/others
  • Can go to restaurants
  • I don’t have to have a rigid meal plan
  • Healthy weight for the first time in my life
  • Self compassion
  • Greater resilience
  • Direction in life
  • Can see a happy future
  • No longer in hospital
  • Full range of emotions
  • Not depressed
  • Less black and white thinking
  • Boundaries with others
  • Less intrusive thoughts
  • More open to new experiences

It’s difficult to look back when so many of the thoughts are painful. The illness tugs back to think that that life was better in some way but maybe what we need is to focus on the positive steps we have made forward and not the problems we still face. They look a lot smaller and more manageable when you can see how far you have come and all the progress you have made.

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