mental health awareness

Speaking up about mental illness

Looking at any of my social media profiles it doesn’t take long to find a post about mental illness. If you want to find out, you will. Why am I doing this?

You’re talking about having cancer online? Showing others what it’s like to get chemo therapy? Wanting to show other patients that they are not alone?
You’re one big hero.

You’re talking about having depression online? Showing others what it’s like to get psychotherapy? Wanting to show other patients that they are not alone?
You’re an attention seeker, a simulant, a lazy teenager that doesn’t want to go to school.

Talking about mental illness still isn’t considered normal, whilst talking about physical illness is perfectly fine.

We live in a world where if you break your arm, everyone runs over to sign your cast. But if you tell people you’re depressed, everyone runs the other way.
We are so, so, so accepting of any body part breaking down other than our brains. And that’s ignorance. That’s pure ignorance. And that ignorance has created a world that doesn’t understand depression, that doesn’t understand mental health.

 

I don’t like being vocal about my problems, but I speak up anyway.
If you meet me in person it will take a long time until I tell you anything about my problems. I’ve gone years without anyone noticing there’s something wrong. It’s easier to let everyone around you think you’re okay, but not speaking up will make you even more sick.

Mental illnesses often go unnoticed for a really long time, either because the person doesn’t even know that what they’re experiencing might be a mental health issue or because they’re too afraid to tell anyone or to seek help.

In school we teach kids about HIV and aids, we show them how to brush their teeth and tell them how to take care of their body by eating healthy. But we don’t teach them to speak up about their feelings, to take care of themselves even when they’re feeling like they don’t deserve to or to take a break instead of breaking down because there’s still so much to do.

We tell parents to look out for symptoms of physical illnesses in their kids like rashes or pain, but we don’t tell them to take care of their kids mental health and to look out if they’re often angry, sad or anxious.

Why do we pay so much attention to every part of our body but our brain? Why is it okay to rest when we have a cold, but lazy to rest when we had a rough day? Why are we strong when we come to work even though we had a fever yesterday, but weak when we call in sick, because we had a full blown panic attack last night?

I want others to know that they’re not alone, that they’re not weak, that what they’re experiencing is real. I want to raise awareness on a topic that is still considered a taboo subject in our society and to stand up for those that can’t stand up for themselves.
I want to show that it’s okay to take care of yourself, that it’s okay to seek for help, that it’s okay to rest and, most of all, that it’s okay to speak up.

Nobody’s perfect, we’re all humans and we have to take care of each other and, most importantly, of ourselves.

You have been assigned this mountain to show others it can be moved.

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mental health awareness

What happens if I am suicidal at an open ward or treatment center?

This is a question almost everyone who’s been inpatient and deals with suicidal thoughts or suicidal ideation asked themselves. Quiet often patients that are at risk of hurting themselves go unnoticed, because they’re afraid of what will happen if they tell anyone.

Please remember that I am in no way a mental health professional or a person that worked in a mental hospital, everything I write is based on my own experience.

First I’m going to talk about what it was like when I stayed at an inpatient psychosomatic treatment center that wasn’t a psychiatric ward at the hospital.

If you were known to deal with suicidal thoughts you had a talk with the staff once or twice a day and probably were classified into how likely you were to act on these thoughts or ideas. Depending on this information they had a timespan, like 5 to 30 minutes, and if you didn’t show up for the meeting within the given time they had to call you, and if you wouldn’t answer, the police.
In these meetings they would always ask you how you were feeling, what you were doing and what you were planning to do, if you felt suicidal and if you felt like hurting yourself.

As a patient at this open station you were reassured to tell the staff as soon as you start to feel yourself slipping into suicidal thoughts. You then had a talk with the staff and if you could believably distance yourself from these thoughts you could go on like before and just had to come to your check-ups.
If you weren’t able to believably distance yourself from the thoughts you were taken to a room that was under video surveillance and had to talk to a doctor. Most of the time you would have to sleep in this room for a night on an incredibly uncomfortable doctor’s couch with all the trouble of doctors talking to patients and staff or patients coming in for medication going on around you.
On the next day you were supervised during breakfast and then had to sit in front of the staff room glass door and wait for your therapist, your doctor and the consultant who’d be coming in for a crisis visit at your room.
In this crisis visit they would ask you a lot of questions so they could see if they could trust you that you’re safe. If you were, you had to promise them via handshake and would probably get a so called anti-suicide-contract. If you weren’t safe, you would be taken to the local psychiatric ward and stay in the closed ward for a few days. If your stay would take more than 4 days your bed at the treatment center would have been given to a new patient and you would have to come in for the next free bed whenever you got out of hospital.

If you’re at an open psychiatric ward it would be a lot easier to transfer you to the closed ward and therefor they would send you there faster, even if it would be just for a night, because it’s just such a high risk for them to let you stay on the ward without being supervised all the time. If you were to actually do something that could take your own life it would be their fault, so if there is the option to let you sleep in a room that is under video surveillance they would probably take it.

Never be afraid to tell anyone that you’re suicidal, because all they want to do is help you and keep you safe. You won’t be sectioned under the mental health act or anything if you collaborate and try to keep yourself safe as well.

Suicide is a permanent solution to problems that may not feel temporary but are! You are worth to keep living and your life matters. If you tell someone about the struggles you’re facing they will be able to help you.

I know it’s scary, but it’s important.


Need help now?

  • Call 911 or your national emergeny number.
  • 1-800-SUICIDE (1-800-784-2433)
  • 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-8255)
  • Text: 1-800-799-4TTY (1-800-799-4889)
  • International Suicide Hotlines
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mental health awareness

Words for anyone in recovery

You ARE “sick enough”.
You don’t need to get worse in order to be “sick enough” to get help. You don’t need to get worse for your pain to be real, recognized and treated. You don’t have to get worse in order to be taken seriously.

You DESERVE to get help.
You are allowed to ask for help and to accept it. You are worth the time it takes others to help you. You are worth getting better. You deserve to get better. You are not weak for getting help.

You ARE NOT a bad person for feeling like this.
You are allowed to feel weak, angry or exhausted. It is ok to feel like this. You can’t feel strength without weakness, there isn’t just one of the two, they coexist.

You CAN’T fight all the time.
You are allowed to rest. It is okay to feel tired. Relapses happen. You are not a bad person because of your coping methods. You can’t just be fine over night.

You DON’T have to cling to your illness in order to matter.
You will be cherished whether you’re ill or not. People aren’t gonna stop loving and supporting you once you’re doing better. You are not your illness.

Recovery IS hard.
It is okay to feel like you can’t fight anymore, there are days like this. Focus on yourself and survivng, be yourself and not some kind of recovery idol. It is okay to sometimes avoid events that stress you out.

TAKE CARE.
You can do this, even if you feel like you can’t. There are better days to come, even if you can’t imagine it yet. You are perfect the way you are and you do not have to change to make anyone else happy. Focus on making yourself happy.

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mental health awareness

Not being able to talk at times

I’m sitting in my therapists office and she asks me some simple questions.
“How are you feeling?” – “Not that good” is what I say instead of explaining why I feel horrible. “What happened this week?” – “Not that much” I say, not being able to think of what I did the last few days.

“Tell me a bit about your day” she says. And that’s when it happens.
I want to answer her question, but I just can’t get out a word. I try to breathe, but suddenly it feels like I’m suffocating. She doesn’t say anything. I look around searching for the clock, a minute goes by, it feels like an hour. “What’s so hard?” she asks. “I don’t know” is the only thing I can bring myself to say.
She asks a ton of other questions, but I can’t answer anymore. I’m silent for the rest of the session, my therapist doesn’t know what to do.

It’s not only that I am so nervous I can’t concentrate on anything or that I am too shy to answer. It’s wanting to speak but not being able to find your voice, wanting to express yourself but not being able to do it through words and sentences.

I want to talk to you, I want to look you in the eyes, I want to ask you questions, I want to be friendly, but instead I don’t say a word, I stare on the ground, wait until you give up on our conversation and come off as rude.

It’s not that I don’t want to speak, it’s simply that I just can’t. Even in therapy it’s one of the biggest obstacles. Even my therapist told me a hundred times, that she doesn’t know how to handle it.

Please, if you try to talk to someone and they’re not answering, please do not assume that it means they’re rude. Sometimes it’s just too much.

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mental health awareness

A friendly reminder

Mental illness doesn’t take a break over the summer holidays.

Just because we don’t have to go to school doesn’t mean we’re suddenly doing okay. Our fears and thoughts don’t stop the moment we get out of school for a few weeks, they don’t care about relaxing or swimming pool time.

Having a lot of time now doesn’t always make us feel better and less depressed or anxious, no sometimes it makes us feel even worse, because we’re lacking the daily structure and have even more time to overthink.

Just because we don’t have to get up for school doesn’t mean that getting out of bed is easier when we’re on summer break. No, it might be even harder because we’re not forced to get up in order to be on time.

Not having to go to school gives all of us a lot of free time, but that doesn’t mean that we’ll be able to do things all day. We still get stressed and overwhelmed, we still fear the stuff we fear when we’re going to school and we still struggle with daily tasks.

Being on summer break doesn’t make us able to do fun things with our friends all the time. Often we don’t get to enjoy the stuff mentally healthy people enjoy, we might get exhausted or upset very easy and still need to plan our activities.

If you or someone you know struggles with mental health problems, please remember: Holidays or breaks don’t magically cure our illnesses, we’re still struggling and that’s totally normal and okay. Healing takes time.

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mental health awareness, Phobia

Specific phobias

Did you ever fear something so much you would have rather died than having to experience that thing?

That’s what it’s like to have a specific phobia.

Everything I do in my life is meant to prevent on experiencing my fear, every thought I think is checked at least twice in case it could make this thing happen.

I can’t even write about what my biggest fear is, because when I write or talk about it it seems even more real and even more like it’s gonna happen in any moment.

I am ashamed, of my fear and of myself. I know that these thoughts don’t make sense, I know that my fear seems irrelevant to others and I know that my phobia is what holds me back from living a happy life.

Not even one simple action like putting a glas on a table isn’t thought through a hundred times. Did I ever do it like I’m doing it right now and was I afraid or did the thing happen? If I do it like this now, will I be afraid or will this thing happen? If I do it like this now and I will be afraid or the thing will happen, I won’t ever be able to do it like this again, because it will happen again. If I won’t ever be able to do it like this again, I will get afraid and the thing might happen.

My thoughts never stop. My mind is currently working and creating “What if” sentences. I can’t make it stop. I can’t make it stop, because if I don’t think about it, I will be afraid and the thing might happen.

At times it gets worse and I become really afraid. I won’t be able to function like a normal human being, I might escape or try to interact with you, I might talk a lot or not at all, I might sit still or walk around trying to breathe, I might tell you what’s going on, but most of the time I won’t.

I have to get through this and I most probably will get through this, but I never know for sure if I really will.

Sometimes I want to give up, I don’t want to exist anymore or I want to die, because then the thing won’t ever happen again.

Sometimes I just want to hide, forever. I want to find an option to make sure this thing won’t ever happen, at all costs.

Sometimes I just want this fear to go away, because I would like to do something randomly and not think about the same thing all the time, sometimes I just want to know how a normal life feels.

Please, I beg you to never ever ever play down someone’s fears or to even make fun of them. If you’ve never felt like that before, you won’t be able to understand, no matter how hard you try. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.

Try to find out what comforts the person, what lowers their fear and what you can do to help them a little. Even if it’s just talking random stuff or sitting across the room; the best you can do is to respect the persons fear and to try to minimize the harm they do to themselves, mentally and/or physically. 

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mental health awareness

Real Anxiety

How my anxiety affected me producing a short film about anxiety

I have struggled with social anxiety since I was in kindergarten.
Now I’m 18 and still struggling.
But things have changed.

Now I’m able to speak up and raise awareness about what I and a thousand others suffer from.

Therefor I decided to produce a short film about anxiety for my 2-year-school-project.
Well, being in front of the camera I recognized I’m even more uncomfortable than I want it to seem in the video.

Most of the anxiety scenes in the short film are staged, but that doesn’t mean I wasn’t anxious doing all this.
A whole bunch of the raw material is just me awkwardly talking to the person behind the camera, jumping up and down doing weird stuff with my hands and not being able to think because of the panic in my head.
I have more than 1 hour of material that doesn’t show anything besides me sitting on my bed dissociating and staring at the ceiling the whole time.

But none of this is included in the short film.
It’s raw, it’s real, it’s personal and it’s embarrasing to look at. I look horrible, I do not have any control and I’m an open book. I’m hurtable.

BUT THESE SCENES ARE THE MOST REAL ONES. I want the world to recognize the ugliness of anxiety attacks, I want the people to keep an eye on their family and friends, I want them to know the signs.

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