Good Sunday to you fine fellow mentalists! My name is Gary (@mentellhealth), a freelance writer with my own blog over http://www.mentellhealth.org (not a typo) and this is my first post for TWOM so be gentle with me! I don’t think there are too many triggers in here, but, as always, use caution when reading. I hope you enjoy!
To paraphrase Douglas Adams; “The Mental Health universe,” it doesn’t say, “is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mindbogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to the blogosphere”.
That being the case I asked myself just where do I start? Where do I even begin collating and assembling the more interesting stories to share with you fine people. The answer struck me whilst I was out shopping on Thursday! Of course, it’s obvious….pirates!
It may have passed your attention but on the 19th September every year it’s ‘International Speak Like A Pirate Day‘. I didn’t know either until I saw not 1, not 2 , not 4 but 3 shops in my local town carrying signs prominently in their window showing their support for this day of celebration. Of course, it’s a only bit of fun but it struck me that I hadn’t seen anything about it online, nothing on the news, no literature had dropped through my letterbox and the Twitterverse was as quiet as Davy Jones’ locker! Yet, despite the lack of mainstream support,10% of the retailers in my small town had jumped onboard (pardon the pun), when just a week earlier World Suicide Prevention Day had passed many outside the mental health blogosphere without so much as a cursory nod. The common statistic for mental health that gets quoted, particularly in the mainstream media, is that 1 in 4 people suffer mental health problems, yet despite 25% of the world coming under that umbrella, important events like WSPD aren’t supported where they should or could be. We all need help to remove the stigma that comes with any mental health condition, let alone something as important as suicide. However, talk like a pirate and you’re fine! Oh, and if thought mental health and pirates was a tenuous link….think again!
If any of you have dipped out to read my blog, you’ll already know I suffer with PTSD, depression and acute anxiety. A trio of conditions I sometimes struggle to manage separately, let alone together. Stories that relate to any of my conditions are particularly interesting for me, and I hope you too. Having PTSD, a question I generally get asked first is if I’ve been in the military. I haven’t, but I understand why they associate it to that vocation, so it isn’t always easy to find non-militarian stories for PTSD. That said, my ‘trauma’ was nothing compared to what forces across the world face and the Huffington Post is running a series of articles on Military Suicides. It makes for some harrowing, but hopefully insightful, reading.
Unofficially, on his own, he began arranging to speak with groups of soldiers, parents, veterans — anybody — about PTSD and suicide, telling them what he’d learned about navigating the tricky and sometimes dangerous transition from the battlefield to civilian America. These talks turned into a national campaign to spread his message: If you are suffering from war trauma, you are not alone. And it’s not a sign of weakness to get help.
Often in some of my therapy sessions I’ve referred to myself as ‘the dullest man alive’. I don’t drink , I don’t do drugs, I’m a family man (and proud to be) with a loving wife and son. I sometimes forget how much having my condition affects them too. This touching post helped to remind me, I’m not going through it alone.
He snaps easily, and apparently has put hands on a few people at work. He has little to no patience, not like he really had a whole lot before the deployments.
He’s on medication. Two from what I understand. Both for depression. I guess they work, if you can call it that. He doesn’t get as angry as he used to around the house. Now he just comes home from work, and if he’s got time, he sleeps. A lot. He’s always tired, always sleepy. He doesn’t sleep at night, unless he’s taken his sleeping pill. One of his sleeping pills works better than the other, mainly because one causes the nightmares that keep him awake in the middle of the night.
He’s distant. Some days, I have no idea who I’m living with. I mean, I really have no idea.
The good and sometimes the bad times are shared, despite my best efforts, with my loved ones.
I’m taking small steps to find ‘normality’ (whatever that is!) in my life. I write a lot, I read even more. It feels like I’m constantly fighting off negativity from encroaching into my life – maybe you feel the same?. Sometimes I win, occasionally it wins, sometimes we call it a draw. I do love finding a blog post somewhere from someone who manages to articulate it in a way I never could; like this one!
To let go, to accept all of you and your situation right now, relinquishes the dream of some special nirvana still exists out there.
What will you do, if large chunks of the day usually spent ruminating are empty spaces now?
Will life be boring living in a no thought space at times.
Understand the ego we created, wants to direct our being through life, cognitively wanting to dominate and control us.
Life is brilliant below the ego, below the judgments, below the doubt and worry, free to let go and explore, risk, live vicariously.
Life is so small when we judge us or others!
Life is so enormous when we let judgment fade from lack of attention.
There is a beautiful photo on there too!
As I said I love to write (look, I’m doing it now!) but I’ve never been one for drawing. Trauma comes in all shapes and sizes. Anyone who has felt its weight will tell you that, but have you ever tried to illustrate it? This blog has. It has some really interesting drawings (I think). It would be easy (I imagine) to expect everyone to be all dark, grey and black, monsters and demons but I love that there is so much colour in the drawings.
Finally, for those of you outside of the UK you probably missed this article from a UK newspaper, The Guardian. Now I’m not particularly religious but certainly have nothing against those that are. In fact, having that sense of belief must offer a nice sense of comfort in times of hardship (or anytime). Evangelists like those in the article are pretty rare in this country and certainly don’t get the same sort of prominence that they recieve in the US (if you’ve ever seen the documentary Religulous you’ll see why) but who knows….maybe they know something!
Nearly half of evangelical Christians believe mental illness can be overcome by Bible study and prayer instead of medical intervention, according to a survey.
Lifeway Research found that 35% of Americans and 48% of those who identified themselves as evangelicals believed that people with serious mental disorders can overcome their illnesses with “Bible study and prayer alone“.
So that was my first go at TWOM. I hope it pointed you in the direction of something positive and inspiring. Happy reading, be strong. Don’t look back…you’re not going that way.