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Young people and mental health: ‘Since diagnosis, I have taken massive strides’

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

As part of the MQ Speak your Mind series, younger readers who have experienced mental health problems share their stories in the hope they will raise awareness and change attitudes

Holly, 22, Sydney, Australia
I have suffered from depression and suicidal ideation since I was about 12. If my parents did not have private healthcare, I would probably be dead.

Vulnerable young people shouldn’t have to wait for months to see a psychiatrist, or to compensate for the lack of communication between specialists. Help-seeking behaviour should be supported and encouraged.

Related: Experiences of eating disorders: ‘I’ve been to many dark places’

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Living with schizophrenia: ‘There is a wall of doubt, stigma and pain’

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

There’s considerable misunderstanding about schizophrenia, as experienced by readers living with the disorder. As part of the MQ campaign Speak your Mind, they explain some of the issues they have faced

Anonymous, 40
I am a spider. I reach out and all I find is the cobweb I have woven. Woven out of experiences and childhood trauma. I reach out and find I can’t get out of this sticky mess. I can’t get out of bed. Something keeps me there and every time I try there is a wall. A wall of doubt, stigma and pain.

My name is Cobweb and I have schizoaffective disorder, which is a type of schizophrenia. As soon as you read “schizo”, parallels are made with “split personality” and perhaps craziness. Only the other day I heard someone say “schizo” in a casual way. They did not mean this in a kind way – it was referring to a kind of madness or craziness that is associated, perhaps, with crime or being possessed.

Related: Experiences of bipolar disorder: ‘Every day it feels like I must wear a mask’

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How mental health problems affect relationships: ‘They’re scared that this time you might die’

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Readers explain the impact of their mental health disorders on family and friends as part of the MQ Speak your Mind series

Anonymous
Last night I had a dream about my eldest son who’s just turned 11. Because of my mental illness, I have not been able to speak to or see my three boys for eight months now. In the dream I’m hangin’ with my eldest, shooting the breeze as we’ve done many a time, but this time I notice a difference; his voice has broken, and with this realisation my heart broke, too.

This dream is analogous of all those golden moments of childhood I have missed in their lives, that can never be relived, moments that seem even more precious when it comes to my eldest, as he rapidly approaches adolescence. The dream also feels analogous of everything I’ve lost as a result of mental illness; my marriage, career, liberty (sectioned twice), self-respect and societal approval.

Related: Living with schizophrenia: ‘There is a wall of doubt, stigma and pain’

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Experiences of eating disorders: ‘I’ve been to many dark places’

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

As part of MQ’s Speak your Mind campaign, readers describe the issues they’ve faced brought on by eating disorders, their therapy and recovery as well as the strains NHS cuts are placing on services in this field

Anonymous, 22
The first time I was depressed, I was 12 and I didn’t know I was ill. I didn’t even know what depression was. After a family feud and several years of being a victim of bullying, I didn’t want to live any more. I remember standing on my balcony, hands on the railing, and thinking: “Should I jump?” I thought that I was a coward, because I was afraid of dying more than I hated living. I began to self-harm, and my mental illness had the sting of a pair of scissors cutting into my skin.

I was 16 when I decided to lose weight, so the boys and the girls wouldn’t laugh any more, and perhaps, just perhaps, someone, one day, would even desire to touch me. Three years later, I was sitting on the toilet bleeding because I had taken too many laxatives, and my mental illness was as red as blood.

Related: How mental health problems affect relationships: ‘They’re scared that this time you might die’

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Experiences of depression: ‘It leaves you on the cliff edge of sanity’

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Readers share their experiences of depression – how it pervades their life and how they cope – as part of MQ’s Speak your Mind initiative

Naomi, Cambridge
Depression comes from the mind and invades the mind. It’s like an unstoppable force. Were it not so evil, it would be impressive. It zaps the joy of sleep and relaxation. It causes aches and pains and exhaustion. And then it weighs this tired body and brain down with apathy and robs me of enthusiasm. And just when you get used to the apathy and accept that you will amount to nothing more than a TV-watching, Netflix-browsing, Candy Crush-playing robot, it hits you with panic.

The panic makes you crave company and someone to stabilise you and tell you that it’s fine. But only then do you realise the full extent of the invasion. It has conquered you and you didn’t even notice. There is no one. You’ve asked for help one time too many, you cried and broke down and scared them or bored them (or both) once too often. And they were kind so they let you do it again and again, but eventually they had to look after themselves and their own sanity and they backed away while you weren’t looking. And you’re left holding on by a thread to those that are left, but you can’t risk breaking that thread so you pull your lips into a smile and you weaken yourself further by pulling yourself into the shape of a sane person.

Related: Young people and mental health: ‘Since diagnosis, I have taken massive strides’

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Experiences of bipolar disorder: ‘Every day it feels like I must wear a mask’

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Readers explain the intense mood swings brought on by bipolar disorder that can lead to self harm, loss of control and the need for medication, as part of the MQ series Speak your Mind

Anonymous
I am once again in the mental health treatment sausage machine. Plucking up courage to approach a GP to admit defeat, being shoved on drugs to stop me topping myself, told that there’s a huge, long waiting list for treatment, the false hope of a “gateway worker” assessment followed by another interminable wait of undefined length. Then I know I will have my allocated batch of treatment before being deemed “fixed” and dispatched back to the world again. I am sick and tired of the roundabout. I suggested that instead of this system, once a mental health patient has had their allocation of therapy, they should remain on the books, so when they feel themselves slipping back down, they can call up for a booster session instead of having to go through the whole rigmarole again.

I’ve just quit my job of six years because, following a disclosure to my new boss that I have bipolar tendencies she proceeded to bully me into submission. She had absolutely no understanding of how to get the best out of (a very talented) employee who has mental health issues. I was stopped from working at home, an important aspect to being able to manage my condition. I had unreasonable targets imposed, with no support offered to go about achieving them. My job was chopped and changed, hours cut and autonomy removed. I have been pushed back to the brink of suicide and had to go on antidepressants to simply survive.

Related: Experiences of depression: ‘It leaves you on the cliff edge of sanity’

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Experiences of anxiety: ‘I suddenly became so anxious I couldn’t breathe’

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Readers share their stories of dealing with anxiety disorders – from fear of flying to self doubt, sleepless nights and panic attacks, as part of MQ’s Speak your Mind initiative

Jo, Washington DC
Having an anxiety disorder means that I don’t just have a lot of feelings, I have feelings about my feelings. I worry that my feelings aren’t real or that my feelings about my feelings are the correct feelings, or my feelings are the wrong feelings. I have shame about my feelings, guilt about my feelings, anger about my feelings. Sometimes I wonder which feeling is real – the initial feeling or the resulting feeling? Am I making myself feel this way or do I just feel this way?

I’m always looking for patterns. I thrive on routine. Anything to make me feel less trapped, like I have control. My best friend dying in high school threw this desire for control into overdrive. I can’t enjoy concerts or festivals or bars because there are too many people – what if there’s a fire? What if someone starts shooting? Will I get crushed to death in the inevitable stampede?

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Depression is leading cause of disability worldwide, says WHO study

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Report a ‘wake-up call’ for countries to rethink approaches to mental health, says agency, revealing that cases have grown by almost 20% in a decade

Cases of depression have ballooned almost 20% in a decade, making the debilitating disorder the leading cause of disability worldwide, the World Health Organization (WHO) has said.

By 2015, the number of people globally living with depression, according to a revised definition, had reached 322m, up 18.4% since 2005, the UN agency said on Thursday.

Related: Royals launch campaign to get Britons talking about mental health

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I thought my career as a doctor was over. It was the arts that saved me

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

I used to ignore my creative side, but after I was signed off work with depression and anxiety, I made space for the things I loved

As a hospital doctor I am used to working under pressure, and had always felt I thrived on it. But when I took time out of clinical training to pursue a PhD, I found I was intensely unhappy. I suffered a range of physical symptoms: palpitations, early morning waking, nausea, severe headaches, poor appetite, diarrhoea, dizziness, breathlessness and tremors.

My day was constantly interrupted by intrusive negative thoughts; I once walked for 30 minutes with “I hate my life, I hate my life” on a loop of internal monologue that I feared had no end. I listened to podcasts and audiobooks fanatically but could not drown out these thoughts, and no rationalisation of all the wonderful things I had in my life could make them stop.

Related: ‘Creativity improves wellbeing’: art transforms mental health ward

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Jamal Edwards breaks taboos around men’s mental health – video

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. Jamal Edwards, founder of film-making company SBTV, asks why so many men are taking their own lives, and whether society’s stereotypes of masculinity have stopped men from seeking help with depression

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