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

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 day in the life with depression

Hearing my alarm ring I get disappointed for waking up again. I don’t wanna have to get through another day, I don’t have the strength to face another day, I’m tired and I want to sleep.

I lie in bed for another hour, doing nothing but staring at the ceiling, thinking of possible excuses to call in sick today. Who cares if I show up? Does it even matter? I won’t be able to focus on anything, so why should I even force myself to go there?

I’m running late and now I can’t decide what to wear. I don’t even care how I look, so why is it that hard for me to find something that feels worth putting on? I want to go back to bed and just sleep, everything is too much and I’m so tired.

I think I don’t need breakfast today, I don’t have enough time to eat anything, nor do I feel hungry. Honestly, it doesn’t matter, I feel like shit anyways.

I didn’t catch my bus and have to wait another hour. I don’t have the motivation to go back home, so instead I sit in the rain for a bit. I’m getting cold and I think about just giving up on today and going back to sleep again.

I arrive an hour late at school, my teacher says that I have to get up earlier and that this will no longer count as an excuse. I want to tell them that I didn’t even plan on arriving here and that I considered to throw myself in front of every car that I passed on the way.

During class I can’t focus. I want the day to be over already. I start to count: Seconds, minutes, hours until I can finally leave. Just another 45 minutes, I try to count to 2700 to pass the time. I get tired at 300. 40 more minutes to go. I don’t think I’ll be able to stay awake any longer. I’m so tired.

My teachers get upset with me because I didn’t tell them about my missing homework. But what am I supposed to do? I can’t tell them this every single day. I never have my homework. I want to do them every day and every day I fail. I don’t know how to build up the motivation and energy to do this. It’s not that I don’t know the answers or anything, I just don’t get anything done.

During class several teachers come up to me. They’re disappointed because I don’t write everything down. I’m sorry. I’m disappointed, too.

As I finally arrive at my house again, I just want to fall into bed. But I have to do some stuff to help my mum, and oh, I want to help her so much, but oh, I’m so overwhelmed by everything and even the simplest task is too hard for me.
Seeing my family doing so much more than I do hurts and I understand that it comes off as laziness most of the time, but really, I’m trying, I’m trying so hard.

I probably should eat something, I’m feeling a bit hungry, but I just don’t care. I’d rather starve than make myself something to eat. I just can’t find the motivation to get up and walk those few steps to the fridge. Later on I get really hungry, so I just search for something that I don’t have to prepare and eat it. I honestly don’t care.

And day after day I sit on my bed, staring at the wall, thinking about doing my homework and day after day I end up not doing it. I want to do it, I really want to do it. I won’t get a job, I won’t succeed in life, I won’t ever be happy again, I probably won’t even survive until I’m 20.

I avoid to look at my phone, because answering peoples messages stresses me out too much and I don’t have the energy to keep up with literally anything. I binge watch something I can’t focus on until I can finally go to bed at an embarassing early time.

I lie in bed thinking about how I wasted another day and ask myself how I am supposed to get through tomorrow. I’m already tired for like the next three years. I just want to sleep, but please, I don’t want to dream anything, because even dreaming is too exhausting. Some time after midnight I eventually fall asleep, thanks to my sleeping pills.
I made it through today, but it was hard. Will I make it through tomorrow?

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mental health awareness

Why I push away the ones I fear to lose

I know I get too attached. I always feel like I can’t trust anyone, but if I do, I start to get attached which comes along with the fear of losing the ones I need the most. And then, somehow, I always happen to push away exactly these people. That’s what happens all the time.

And here’s why.

I know I have trust issues, I usually never trust anyone. But sometimes I start to trust people and suddenly they become an important part of my life. I get obsessed, and that’s when I get so afraid of losing them, that it seems like the only option I have is to push them away.

I don’t want them to recognize how much they mean to me, because it might freak them out a bit and they might distance themselves, but at the other hand I want them to know how much of an impact they have on my life.
I don’t want them to think I’m obsessing over their exsitence, but I want them to know that they’re cherished as a person.
I don’t want them to get annoyed with me, but I want to talk to them or spend time with them.
I don’t want them to think I’m like some kind of stalker, but I for sure want them to know that I don’t hate them.
But most of the time that’s probably exactly what they think of me.

Those people are often teachers, therapists or others that did something that helped me or that I appreciated. Most of time I don’t really talk to those people, I probably don’t even say hi when I walk past them, because I am too shy.
I’m 24/7 afraid that someone I like hates me.

I am so terrified of being hated, forgotten or left, that I think I have to be the one who leaves first, because it hurts less to leave than being left.

But I’m not strong enough and so I keep losing people. And I always lose them. Maybe if I told them how important they are to me and that I want to stay in touch, some of them wouldn’t leave completely.

I hope you always remember someone out there appreciates you and your existence in their life, even if you don’t get to recognize it. 

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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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