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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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My workout: ‘Netball gives me a massive buzz’

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Rachel Bestford, 43, on the fast-paced, high-impact sport

I played netball all through my school years and loved it. When I left school though, there were no clubs I could join. So I got on with adult life, got a job and soon lost my fitness. I never thought I’d play sport again. Then six months ago I came across the Back To Netball scheme, for women like me who haven’t played in a while, and gave it a shot. It wasn’t long before it all came flooding back.

Netball is a seven-a-side team sport; the aim is to pass the ball up the court and put it in the net. You can’t run with the ball – as soon as you’ve grabbed it you have to stop – and each player can only move within certain boundaries, depending on their position. But despite these rules, it’s not at all restrictive; the game has a lovely flow.

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Can you prevent rows about household tasks?

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Even among couples who share housework and parenting, subtler inequities persist

In her new book Drop The Ball, a manifesto for women juggling jobs and an unequal share of the burden at home, Tiffany Dufu describes a phenomenon I’d never previously seen given a name: “imaginary delegation”. This is the all-too-familiar relationship pattern whereby you see (or just think of) some household task that needs doing, mentally assign it to your partner, fail to inform them you’ve done so, then feel sincere outrage when they disregard the instructions you never gave them.

The problem here is that both sides have an excellent case for feeling aggrieved. The person on the (non-)receiving end naturally protests that he can’t be expected to read minds. But the other person is also justified in saying she shouldn’t need to spell it out: for a cohabiting couple, teamwork demands that both partners keep an eye out for what needs doing, without being told by the other. So the stage is set for the worst variety of domestic row: the kind where both parties are right.

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More middle-aged men taking steroids to look younger

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

Experts warn about growing number of men in their 40s and 50s taking drugs to fight signs of ageing and boost sex drive

Growing numbers of middle-aged men are turning to anabolic steroids to make themselves look and feel more youthful and boost their sexual performance, experts say.

Related: Spiralling anabolic steroid use leaves UK facing health timebomb, experts warn

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Experience: a car crashed into me in the bath

Apr 2nd, 2017 by

I was in the bath when I heard a car outside. Its exhaust was screaming. I knew something was going to happen

It was June 2014, three months after my 17-year-old daughter Maisie and I moved into a small terrace house. I had split from my husband and was working as a painter and decorator. It had been chucking it down all day, and I felt a bit unwell, so after a takeaway with Maisie, I decided to have my first bath in our new home. Maisie perched in the (ground-floor) bathroom with me and we talked about anything and nothing for a while. Not 10 seconds after she’d left the room, I heard the loud noise of a car outside. Its exhaust was screaming, as if the pedal was flat to the floor. I knew something was going to happen, but not to me.

Then it hit. Suddenly I was lifted 4ft in the air, flung through the bathroom wall into the back yard and left lying, naked and soaking wet, on the concrete. There was a deathly silence. My mouth and nostrils were full of dust and rubble.

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