Tag: Mental Health

My Experience of Being Sectioned – By Stewart Bint

My Experience of Being Sectioned – By Stewart Bint

In many ways, being sectioned was a bittersweet experience.

On the one hand frightening and overwhelming, but on the other, warm and comforting – forming protection against the outside world.

My counsellor had originally admitted me as a voluntary patient to a private psychiatric clinic – the Woodbourne Priory in Birmingham – for stress and depression brought on by the deaths of two people who were extremely close to me, and an intolerable workload as I climbed the corporate ladder.

One of those people was my Mother-In-Law, who suffered a lingering, painful death from cancer. Almost immediately, my Father-In-Law was also diagnosed with terminal cancer. I was constantly hoping – and telling people of my wishes – that he could die swiftly and painlessly to avoid the horrific ending his wife had suffered. 

Completely unexpectedly, he did, about three weeks into my time in the Priory. Instantly the voices in my head told me I was to blame for his death. The voices were explicit as to how I must “atone for my sin.” I had to slash my right cheek from the side of my eye to my chin, and then slash both my wrists. But I also had to take someone with me, and I must start selecting a fellow patient.

My last memory for about a fortnight, was running from the Priory and finding a hairdressing salon on the road into Birmingham, where I demanded a pair of scissors to fulfil what the voices were instructing me.

Apparently – although I have no recollection of this; it’s all what I was told afterwards – the police had already been alerted to the fact that I’d been seen running down the drive, and when the hairdresser called them they were on the scene in minutes, taking me back to the clinic.

I was duly sectioned for 28 days. But because of the severity of my condition and my increasingly bizarre behaviour, I was also “specialed,” meaning that a nurse was assigned to never be more than a few feet from me, round the clock.

It was two weeks before the fog started to lift. To this day I have no memory of those first 14 days or so. I demanded to be taken home immediately, and the doctors had to explain again about me being sectioned and what it meant, as I could not remember having been told.

The fact that I was a prisoner sank in quickly. Actually, worse than a prisoner. Prisoners have rights. My rights had apparently been stripped from me. I was detained against my will, and forcibly drugged with lithium – so powerful that blood tests were taken every couple of days to ensure it wasn’t harming me physically. Going to the toilet and taking a bath had to be done in full view of my “special” nurse, sometimes male, sometimes female.               

The voices were still there, but the lithium was dulling them. However, I was constantly asking the nurse to get me a pair of scissors, explaining that the only way I could be redeemed was to obey them. I attempted to escape several times, the most successful being when I persuaded a hapless bank nurse to accompany into the grounds. Even though I was in my pyjamas and barefoot, I was able to outrun her. But it wasn’t long before the police returned me to the Priory, this time in handcuffs, as if I were a criminal.

Daily sessions were held with a senior psychiatrist, and gradually the voices were held in check. I will always remember another patient saying I was returning to the real world. During this second half of my enforced incarceration I began to accept what was happening to me, and indeed, to welcome it.

No longer was I rebelling against my jailors (and, make no mistake, that is how I had viewed them), instead, I metaphorically embraced them with open arms. Locked away inside the Priory I was warm, snug and safe from the outside world. They were giving me weapons to fight the voices, the armoury to overthrow the waves of bad, negative thoughts that had been invading my mind for so long.

No longer did I wake up every morning and immediately curl up in a ball, cursing the fact that I was alive. I woke up looking forward to what the day would bring and taking another small, tottering step towards getting my life back.

And all this was due to the fact that I had been sectioned. The section ended after 28 days, but I remained specialed for a further fortnight. In total, I was in the clinic for around ten weeks. Apart from one minor relapse, the coping strategies I learned during that time have been successful, and I am grateful to have been able to rebuild my life with new, stronger, firmer foundations.

I can still hear the gentle, soothing music played during the relaxation sessions, still hear the clink of the croquet balls as we played on the front lawn, still relish the comradery of my fellow patients as we struggled together against the same foe. It was a time of my life I will actually cherish forever, as it marked the beginning of the spiritual, caring person I am today.

 

Thank you, Stewart, for sharing such a personal experience with us. You should be very proud of the man that you are today, you have turned your life around and have become an inspiration to many. 

Children and Mental Health

Children and Mental Health

Mental health conditions do not only affect adults, but they also affect thousands of children.

Everyone has mental health and it is important that it is well looked after, just like it is important to look after your physical health. Good mental health and well-being in children allow them to develop resilience to help them cope with whatever life throws their way and pushes them to grow into well-rounded and healthy adults.

For the first time since 2004, new research took place in regards to children and young people’s mental health in 2017. The 2004 data looked at 7,977 children and young people between the ages of 5-17 and found that 1 in 10 of them had some form of mental health condition. It also found that children and young people from lone parents or reconstituted families, or whose parents were unemployed or had no educational qualifications were more likely to be suffering.

The new research in 2017 collected data from 9,117 children and young people and for the first time, extended their research to include preschool children ages 2-4 and young people ages 17-19.

The 2004 data found 10% of children and young people had a mental health disorder. This had increased to 11.2% in 2017.

It was revealed that boys are more likely to have a mental health disorder than girls up until the age of 11. Then between 11-16 years of age, both girls and boys are equally as likely to develop a mental health disorder. And between 17-19,  girls were more likely to have a disorder – In this age range 1 in 4 girls had a mental health condition and half of them said that they have self-harmed and/or attempted suicide.

70% of children and young people who are struggling with their mental health have never received help for their disorders. There are also shockingly long waiting lists for mental health services with thousands of children having to wait over 3 months for their second form of contact with mental health professionals. This second form of contact can be done in various ways (over the phone, via a webcam chat or in person).

One campaigner, Tom Madders, from YoungMinds Charity, said that many parents claim that the long waiting times have devastating effects on their children. Some parents said that their children self-harmed, became suicidal or dropped out of school as a result of the long wait.

Children and young people’s mental health services in Manchester have recognised that this waiting time is not acceptable and are trying to bring their waiting times down to a 4-week period – Some may say that this is still too long.

What Risk Factors Can Contribute to the Development of Mental Health Problems in Children and Young People?

  • Having long-term physical health conditions
  • Experiencing the death of someone who is close to them
  • Having their parents go through a divorce
  • If a parent or sibling also has a mental health condition
  • If a parent or sibling has a problem with drugs and/or alcohol
  • Being bullied
  • Experiencing emotional, physical or sexual abuse
  • Being homeless or living in poverty
  • Taking on too many adult responsibilities, such as being a carer for their parent/guardian
  • Having long-term educational difficulties
  • Experiencing discrimination of any kind

A recent article revealed how a 12-year-old girl, Jessica Scatterson, hanged herself after posting worrying things on her social media pages. In April 2017, Jessica’s friends contacted the police early hours in the morning after seeing a photograph that she had posted on social media in which she had written ‘R.I.P’ on her heel. When the police arrived at Jessica’s home, they spoke with her father, who then went to check on his daughter. Sadly, when he entered her room, he found she had hanged herself.
The police later found notes and drawings in Jessica’s bedroom all relating to death. They also found nasty messages between Jessica and some of her ‘friends’ on her Ipad and in some of the notes that they found, she had spoken about being bullied, naming the people who had been causing her trouble.
Jessica’s father struggled with his mental health and Jessica would help him by doing housework and looking after him in the best way that she could, some of her teachers say that she was taking on too much at such a young age.
It was also revealed that teachers were aware of Jessica being called names and having arguments in school, but said they would not have called it bullying.

There will be another post specifically about bullying coming in the near future. 

It is important to talk to your children about mental health and teach them the importance of opening up and being honest about their feelings as they are nothing to be ashamed of. It is important to teach your children to be kind and caring towards not only themselves but those around them as you never truly know what is going on in their lives. Show them that you care about them and that you are there to listen to them when they need someone to talk to. Show them the importance of self-care and getting out of the house instead of letting them stay indoors sitting on social media or playing on their games all day. Teach them how to love themselves, teach them self-worth and confidence and look out for any warning signs that might suggest that they are struggling.

Signs:

The most common mental health disorders in children and young people are depression, anxiety, self-harm, post-traumatic stress disorder and eating disorders. These come with various different symptoms, but here are some general signs that you can look out for:

  • Mood swings – Yes it is common for all children to have mood swings at some point in their lives. But do not instantly disregard their behaviours as being ‘a phase’, ask them how they are feeling, ask them if there is anything that they want to talk about, or whether they are acting this way for a reason. Sometimes it might be more than them being ‘stroppy teens’.
  • Becoming more withdrawn than usual. Sitting in their room, not communicating with you or their friends as much as they usually do, giving one-word answers and getting frustrated and irritated easily. This could be a sign of depression as well as other mental health conditions… it could also be a sign that they are experiencing something negative in their school environment such as bullying or generally struggling with their education and finding things difficult.
  • Unexplained cuts and bruises. Most children come home from playing out with friends with new bruised or cuts… but are they becoming more frequent, are the explanations for these injuries becoming more vague and/or repetitive? Are they always in the same place on their body? They may be self-harming. It is important to keep an eye on them and check in on how they are feeling… if you are concerned that your child is causing harm to themselves, take them to see your doctor as soon as possible.
  • If your child is becoming pre-occupied in regards to food, they may have an eating disorder. If they make excuses so that they do not have to eat, such as always saying they are full, not hungry or that they have eaten out, they may have an eating disorder. If they are losing weight dramatically, they are likely to have an eating disorder (or a physical illness). If they go to the bathroom straight after meals and is in there for quite some time, it could be a sign of bulimia.
  • Having trouble concentrating, always seeming as though their mind is somewhere else.
  • Having trouble sleeping.
  • Dramatic behavioural changes – Maybe they start lashing out physically, being more aggressive, shouting, slamming doors and starting arguments frequently. Maybe they go from being lively and loud to being withdrawn and quiet.
  • Physical symptoms – Headaches or stomach pains.
  • Not wanting to go to school – Could be a sign of bullying, anxiety and/or depression.

You know your child better than anyone else… any changes in them that concern you should always be addressed and should never just be put down to them going through phases. If you are concerned please take them to see a doctor or get in touch with mental health services to discuss the matter with them, the earlier a mental health condition is recognised, the better the chances for their recovery.

Sources:

BBC – Reports into Children’s Mental Health

The Guardian – Mental Health Disorders on the Rise Amongst Children

MentalHealth.org – Children and Young People

YoungMinds.org

Child Adolescent Mental Health Services – Information for Parents and Carers

The Guardian – What is Happening with Children’s Mental Health

DailyMail.co.uk – ‘Bullied’ girl, 12, hanged herself after posting late-night picture online showing ‘RIP’ written on her heel, inquest hears.

Men and Mental Health

Men and Mental Health

There is still a large amount of stigma surrounding mental health today… but for some reason when it comes to male mental health the stigma increases.

Despite the fact that women are more likely to be diagnosed with common mental health conditions such as Depression, Anxiety, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, and Panic Disorders, there are still important indicators that there is widespread mental distress in men.

It is estimated the 12.5% of men in the UK alone have a common mental disorder, although this statistic is believed to be much higher as there are many men out there who have not sought help for their illnesses. In a survey that took place in 2016, run by Men’s Health Forum, the majority of men said that they would take time off work if they were experiencing physical symptoms such as unexplained chest pains, blood in their urine/stools, or if they were to find a lump. However, less than 1 in 5 men said that they would do the same if they were experiencing anxiety (19%) or if they were feeling low (15%). On top of this, more than three-quarters of men who took part in The Government National Well-being Survey reported significantly lower life satisfaction than women.

Men’s mental health forums suggest that the following statistics show that emotional and psychological distress in men may surface in ways that do not fit in with the conventional approaches to diagnosis:

  • 73% of adults who ‘go missing’ are men
  • 87% of rough sleepers are men
  • Men are almost 3 times more likely than women to become dependant on alcohol
  • More than two-thirds of drug-related deaths occur in men
  • 95% of the prison population are men. 72% of these men have two or more mental health disorders
  • Men have considerably lower access to social support from their friends, family and the community
  • Men commit 86% of violent crimes

Men are less likely to act on the warning signs of mental distress and may be unable or unwilling to ask for help and support from mental health services. As a result, many men tend to turn to self-management strategies which may be more damaging to themselves as well as to those around them. These strategies may include taking drugs or consuming alcohol on a regular basis.

Please remember that mental health conditions can affect anyone at any stage of their lives, no matter their gender, age or background. Mental health is just as important as physical health and is nothing to be ashamed of. If you are suffering please seek the help that you need and deserve! There will always be someone there to support you, there will always be someone who cares about you! 

Having a mental health condition does not make you weak, it does not make you any less of a man, it is a serious health condition and you should not have to deal with that alone. Reach out to your friends, family and those you trust, speak with your GP and mental health professionals and do not be ashamed. You are stronger than you think. 

Useful Resources: 

Time To Change – Range of Helplines and Resources

SafeLine.org – Support

Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)

NHS – Mental Health Helplines

Self-Harm and Suicide

Self-Harm and Suicide

This is a very sensitive, yet important topic. I have to issue a trigger warning for self-harm and suicide. If you are struggling with self-harm, suicidal thoughts or attempts, please speak to a GP or mental health professional immediately. If you feel you are in immediate danger, call 999.

Useful Resources:

The Samaritans provide 24hr support for people who are in need of someone to talk to for various reasons. You can call them on 116 123 or you can email them at Jo@Samaritans.org (this is anonymous)

Mind charity is an amazing mental health charity offering support and information regarding various mental health conditions. You can call them on 0300 123 3398 or text them on 86463 (open between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm on weekdays)

Harmless – You can email: info@harmless.org.uk

National Self Harm Network Forums – A place where you can ask for and receive help and support in regards to mental health and self-harm.

YoungMinds Parents Hotline – 0808 802 5544 (9:30 am till 4:00 pm on weekdays)

What is Self-Harm?

According to The National Health Service, self-harm is when someone intentionally damages or injures their body, usually as a way of coping with or expressing overwhelming emotional distress.

Over 50% of those who lose their life to suicide have a history of self-harm. There are other people whose intentions may simply be to punish themselves or express their distress and relieve tension.

There are various types of self-harm, the main types being:

  • Cutting and/or burning their skin
  • Punching or hitting themselves or tough surfaces
  • Poisoning themselves with tablets and/or other toxic chemicals
  • Misusing drugs and/or alcohol
  • Deliberately starving themselves or binge eating (anorexia/bulimia)
  • Excessively exercising

People tend to try and keep their self-harm a secret due to shame, fear and guilt. They may cover themselves up all year round to hide self-harm markings and will often avoid talking about the problem.

It is often up to friends and family to notice when a loved one is harming themselves. It is important in this case that they approach the matter with care and understanding.

Signs Of Self-Harm:

If you feel as though a loved one could be self-harming, here are some signs for you to look out for:

  • Unexplained cuts, bruises or burns, usually on wrists, arms, thighs or chest (but not limited to these areas). Making excuses for cuts on their body,
  • Keeping themselves covered at all times, even in warm/hot weather.
  • Signs of depression – low mood, tearfulness, lack of motivation and/or interest in anything.
  • Self-loathing and showing a wish to punish themselves.
  • Saying that they do not want to go on living anymore.
  • Becoming isolated and withdrawn, not speaking to people.
  • Changes in eating habits, being secretive about any unusual weight loss or gain.
  • Low self-esteem and blaming themselves for everything and feeling as though they are not good enough.
  • Signs of pulling out their own hair.
  • Signs of misusing alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Finding razors, scissors, lighters, matches, knives etc. in strange places (under their bed or in bedside tables for example)
  • Spending long periods of time locked in the bathroom or bedroom.

Self-harm may not always be physical harm, if an individual is intentionally neglecting their health, by not eating well, not washing or taking general care of themselves, this can also be a form of self-harm or self-punishment.
The individual may intentionally look for things that will hurt them emotionally, maybe by reading negative comments about themselves online or provoking people to say negative things about them. 

It is important to look for these emotional signals too.

Why Might People Self-Harm?

Some people may self-harm as a way of coping with emotional distress or a way of dealing with life stressors, such as losing a job, going through a divorce, financial issues or losing a loved one.

It may be a way for them to punish themselves for what is going on in their life. They may have a lack of coping strategies or skills and have low self-esteem and so they feel as though they deserve to be harmed.

Some people may self-harm as a way to feel euphoria. When we cut ourselves or injure ourselves, the body releases endorphins which give us a ‘natural high’ or a sense of euphoria. Some people may self-harm in order to feel this way. Self-harming behaviours can become addictive and habit-forming.

It is estimated that around 10% of young people self-harm at some point in their lives. However, this figure could be underestimated as not everyone receives help for their struggles.

What Is Suicide?

Suicide is when someone decides to end their own life.

In some cases suicide can occur without any prior warning, however, there may be some subtle signs that you can look out for:

  • Increasing their alcohol and/or drug intake
  • Taking uneccesary risks and impulsivity
  • Threatening suicide and/or expressing their wish to end their life
  • Showing rage/anger more than what they would usually
  • Talking about feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Talking about being a burden to others
  • Withdrawing themselves from others
  • Displaying mood swings
  • Saying goodbye to their loved ones
  • Giving away their belongings to friends and loved ones
  • Setting one’s affairs in order
  • Referring to death in various ways, maybe through poetry, writing, drawings or in conversation
  • Showing dramatic changes in personality or appearance
  • Changing eating and sleeping patterns
  • Declining in performance

More men than women tend to take their own lives, it is suggested that this could be due to the higher level of stigma surrounding male mental health, resulting in fewer men discussing their feelings with others.

If you are concerned for a loved one, reach out to them, ask them how they really feel, show them that you are there for them and that you care. Offer to seek help with them so that they do not have to go through it alone, research mental health conditions that they may be struggling with and increase your understanding. 

If you are struggling please speak to someone you trust or get in touch with your GP or mental health professionals as soon as possible. Please know that you are not alone, there are people who care about you and who love you and support is available.

Sources:

PsychologyToday.com – Understanding Self-Harm and Suicide

NHS – Self-Harm Overview

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services – Self-Harm and Suicidal Thoughts

Mind Charity – Self-Harm

 

Aspergers Fact File

Aspergers Fact File

Aspergers is a form of Autism. As many of you will be aware, Autism is a spectrum condition and each case can be very different in the way that it is presented. It can be severe or mild, but still important nonetheless!

People with Aspergers see, hear and feel the world differently in comparison to other people. The symptoms of Aspergers may differ from person to person, however here are some of the things that they may experience:

Individuals with Aspergers often have average or above average intelligence. This may not be in any specific area, it could just be in general. Those with Aspergers do not tend to have learning disabilities like many other autistic individuals, although they may have learning difficulties and so may need extra help and support in the learning environment.

Many people with autism struggle with speech, however, those with Aspergers tend to have fewer speech problems, though they may find it difficult to understand and process some language.

Aspergers can also make the individual see the world in an overwhelming way, which can contribute to feelings of anxiety and they may feel as though no one understands them.

They may also find it hard to use and understand facial expressions, the tone of voice, jokes and sarcasm as well as vagueness and abstract concepts.

Other signs and symptoms include:

  • Finding it hard to make and maintain friendships
  • Poor eye contact or staring at people
  • Having trouble interpreting gestures
  • They may engage in inappropriate behaviours and show ‘odd’ mannerisms
  • Struggle to express empathy
  • Have a lack of common sense
  • Have a tendency to engage in one-sided conversations about oneself
  • They may interpret information as being literal

People with Aspergers are also more likely to be diagnosed with other conditions such as depression, anxiety, ADHD, Tourettes and epilepsy.

It is important to remember that no two cases of Aspergers will be exactly the same. It is a spectrum condition and therefore will affect people in different ways. Some people may show mild signs and symptoms whereas others may show more severe symptoms and may need extra help in certain areas.

History of Aspergers:

Hans Asperger was a Vienesse child psychologist who published the first definition of Aspergers Syndrome in 1944. He recorded the behaviour patterns of 4 young boys which he referred to as ‘Autistic Psychopathy’ (meaning autism personality disease). The 4 boys showed a lack of empathy towards others, with little ability to form friendships, one-sided conversations, an intense absorption of a special interest, and clumsy movements.

The paper written by Hans Asperger suggests that this research was based only on 4 boys, however, Dr. Günter Krämer from Zurich, who knew Hans Asperger stated that Asperger’s findings were based on more than 400 children.

Hans Asperger has been praised as a pioneer in the field of child psychiatry and the understanding of Aspergers Syndrome and the Autistic Spectrum…However, earlier this year findings in regards to Hans have slowly come to light.

It was found that Hans Asperger was an active participant in the Nazi Regime, assisting in the ‘Euthanasia Programme’ and supporting the concept of racial hygiene, deeming whether or not children were ‘worthy of life’.

It was recently found in previously untouched documents of the state and personal files of Hans, that he frequently referred children to the Am Spiegelgrund clinic, which was known as a drop-off point for children who failed to conform to the Nazi Regimes criteria of being ‘worthy of life’.

Over 800 children died in that clinic between the years 1940 and 1945, many of whom were murdered via the Euthanasia Programme.

It is unknown whether Hans specifically chose children based on their diagnosis of autism, or whether he selected them in another manner… but he continued to be a child doctor for many years after the collapse of the Nazi Regime.

It is currently unknown about what will happen with this information in the future, whether Asperger Syndrome will be renamed… but Asperger charities will be updating all of their information accordingly.

Sources:

Autism.org.uk

Everydayhealth.com

Asperger-syndrome.me.uk

The Guardian – Hans Asperger aided and supported Nazi programme, study says…

Autism.org.uk – Response to the problematic history of Hans Asperger

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD)

Borderline Personality Disorder is a disorder that affects mood as well as how a person interacts with others. BPD is the most commonly recognised personality disorder.

The symptoms of BPD are split into four main areas, these are:

  1. Emotional Instability
  2. Disturbed Patterns of Thinking or Perception
  3. Impulsive Behaviours
  4. Intense but Unstable Relationships with Others.

Emotional Instability:

This area of symptoms consists of experiencing a range of intense, negative emotions such as anger, sorrow, shame, panic, terror, emptiness and loneliness.

The individual may show severe mood swings over a short period of time, this can be difficult for others around them, being hard for them to understand.

It is common for people with borderline personality disorder to feel suicidal with despair and to later feel reasonably positive. Some people may find that they feel better in the morning and others may feel better in the evening, patterns can vary over time but the key sign is that their mood will swing unpredictably.

If you are experiencing suicidal thoughts, contact your GP or out of hours GP service immediately. If you have overdosed or harmed yourself in a severe way, call 999.
You can also contact The Samaritans on 116 123 – they provide 24-hour emotional support for people who are having trouble with their mental health as well as other problems.
It will also benefit you to tell a friend, family member or someone that you trust.

Disturbed Patterns in Thinking:

The individual may experience upsetting thoughts such as thinking that they are a terrible person or even feeling as though they do not exist. It can be difficult for them to be sure on these thoughts and they may seek reassurance from those around them, that they are not true.

They could also have brief episodes of strange experiences; this could include hearing voices outside of their head that are not really there, this could last for minutes at a time. These voices may be in the form of instructions, telling them to harm themselves or others. Some people may believe that these voices are real, others may not.

It is also possible that the individual will have prolonged episodes of abnormal experiences. These consist of both hallucinations and delusions. Hallucinating might be that they can hear or see things that are not really there and delusions are when the person has distressing beliefs that no one can talk them out of (such as believing that their family are planning to kill them, or that the FBI are coming after them). These types of beliefs may be psychotic, therefore it is important that the individual seeks help if they are struggling with delusions.

Impulsive Behaviours:

If an individual has borderline personality disorder, they may experience impulsive behaviour. There are two main forms of impulses which people with BPD may find hard to control:

They may have an impulse to self-harm (such as cutting or burning themselves), in severe cases, these impulses can lead to feeling suicidal and the individual may attempt or plan to take their own life.

They may have a strong impulse to engage in reckless behaviour such as spending a large amount of money, binge drinking or taking drugs, gambling or having unprotected sex with strangers.

These impulses can be dangerous and the individual should seek help if they are struggling to control themselves in such situations.

Unstable Relationships:

The individual may feel as though they are being abandoned by people close to them, or they may feel that people are getting too close to them and making them feel smothered. Fearing being abandoned could lead to feeling anxious or angry and the individual may make extreme efforts to prevent themselves being alone (such as constantly texting or ringing someone, or physically clinging to them to stop them from leaving). On the other hand, if the individual feels as though they are being smothered they may go out of their way to push the person away. This could lead to having an unstable love-hate relationship. The individual may have a very black/white view on life… meaning they either think the worst, or they think the best, there is no grey area in between.

What Causes Borderline Personality Disorder?

There is no solid cause for this disorder however various research does suggest that there are factors that could contribute to its development.

Stressful life events (especially in childhood) could have an impact on your mental health and may contribute to the development of borderline personality disorder. These events may include emotional, physical or sexual abuse, neglect, family troubles (alcoholic or drug-addicted parents/siblings, or divorce for example), or losing a loved one.

There are also studies which suggest that genetics could play a small part in the development of the disorder, meaning you are more likely to develop the condition if a parent or sibling also has it.

Treatments:

It is believed that talking therapies are one of the most helpful forms of treatment for people with borderline personality disorder although it is not necessarily the most effective.

One talking therapy that is useful for treating BPD is Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT)

This therapy uses both individual and group sessions in order to help the person form coping strategies when it comes to dealing with difficult emotions.

The other form of therapy believed to be helpful for BPD is Mentalisation-Based Therapy (MBT). This therapy aims to help you recognise both yours and others mental states, helping you to examine your thoughts and create a higher level of understanding.

Other talking therapies are also available, but these two have been recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE).

Individuals with BPD are not likely to be put on psychiatric medication for prolonged symptoms as there are not any drugs that have been found effective. However, they may be placed on medication for other mental health conditions such as depression or anxiety and in a crisis situation, they may be given a sleeping pill or a minor tranquiliser to help calm them.

Misdiagnosis:

BPD often shared symptoms with other mental health conditions such as depression, bipolar and post-traumatic stress disorder. Therefore some individuals may feel as though they have been misdiagnosed. If you feel as though you have been given an incorrect diagnosis, speak to your GP or a mental health professional and tell them how you feel.

Sources:

NHS – Borderline Personality Disorder Overview

Mind Charity – BPD

Your Health in Mind

Schizophrenia Fact File

Schizophrenia Fact File

Schizophrenia affects 1 in 10 people but their experience of the condition may not be the same. Schizophrenia comes with a range of different symptoms and although there are risk factors which may make an individual more vulnerable when it comes to developing the condition, there is no definitive cause known.

Symptoms of Schizophrenia:

  • Lack of interest in things that you once enjoyed
  • Feeling disconnected from your feelings
  • Finding it hard to concentrate
  • Wanting to avoid people
  • Hallucinations and/or delusions (these are psychotic symptoms)
  • Disorganised thinking and speech
  • Not wanting to look after yourself
  • Feeling unable to carry out day-to-day activities (going to work, taking children to school, cooking meals etc)
  • Become upset, confused, distrusting or suspicious of other people or particular groups such as strangers or people who are in some form of authority role (politicians, police, doctors, carers, social services etc)
  • Being worried or scared when it comes to seeking help
  • Changes in behaviour
  • Becoming socially withdrawn
  • Changes in sleeping pattern

Positive and Negative Symptoms:

Symptoms of schizophrenia are often referred to as being either positive or negative; positive symptoms include any form of changes to the individual’s behaviour or thoughts, including hallucinations and delusions.

If a person experiences a hallucination, this means that they hear or see things that are not really there whereas delusions come in the form of having strong beliefs about something which other people do not share… this could be having a strong belief that people are watching you or that someone is out to get you, despite there not being any evidence to support this.

Negative symptoms are when the individual become withdrawn from society or when they are not functioning well when it comes to day-to-day life. These are not usually things that you would expect to see from a healthy human being. People who suffer from schizophrenia often appear emotionless.

Causes:

As mentioned earlier, there is no sole cause of schizophrenia, but there are some potential risk factors which could contribute to the development of the condition.

Schizophrenia often runs in families, suggesting that genetics may be a factor. Although it is believed that there is no specific gene which causes the condition, studies have found that people are much more likely to be diagnosed with schizophrenia if a parent or sibling also has it. In identical twins; if one person develops schizophrenia there is a 1 in 2 chance that the other will also develop it…even if the twins are raised separately.
In non-identical twins; if one person develops schizophrenia, the other has a 1 in 7 chance of also developing it.

However in the general population 1 in 10 people are diagnosed with the condition, meaning that genetics are not the only contributing factor.

Some studies suggest that people who develop schizophrenia are more likely to have experienced complications before or during their birth, such as being born with a low birth weight, being born prematurely or experiencing a lack of oxygen during their birth. These are the kind of things which would have an impact on the way a person’s brain develops… suggesting that brain development plays a part when it comes to being diagnosed with schizophrenia.

Other triggering factors may include:

  • Stress: such as bereavement, losing a job, going through a divorce, or experiencing physical, emotional or sexual abuse
  • Drug or alcohol abuse can also increase a persons chance of developing schizophrenia or other similar conditions. Certain drugs such as cannabis, cocaine, LSD or amphetamines are possible triggers. Using amphetamines and/or cocaine can lead to psychosis. Teenagers under the age of 15 who smoke weed regularly (especially ‘skunk’ and other more potent forms of the drug) are 4 times more likely to develop schizophrenia by the age of 26.

Treatments for Schizophrenia:

There is a range of treatments available, including antipsychotic medications, which help with feelings of anxiety after a couple of hours, as well as reducing symptoms such as hallucinations and delusions after several days or weeks.

There are also a variety of different therapies available such as Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which looks at the individuals negative thought patterns and gets them to talk about the things that they find triggering to them, this way the therapist can help the individual to come up with better coping mechanisms and help them to become more independent. There are also family therapies available, not only helping the individual with schizophrenia but also helping family and friends to better understand the condition and teach them various ways of coping and approaching certain situations.

Another popular therapy for people with schizophrenia is art therapy. This enables the individual to express themselves through arts and crafts as well as offering a fun and creative activity for them to regularly engage in.

People with schizophrenia are often provided with a Community Mental Health Team (CMHT). This is a team of professionals such as mental health nurses, social workers, pharmacists, psychologists, psychiatrists and so on, who work together to come up with the best possible care plan for that individual.

If you feel as though you are suffering from schizophrenia, please go to see your GP as soon as possible! 

Sources:

NHS – Schizophrenia Overview

Royal College of Psychiatrists – Schizophrenia

Mind Charity – Schizophrenia Support

 

Why Going Barefoot is Vital for My Mental Well-being: by Stewart Bint

Why Going Barefoot is Vital for My Mental Well-being: by Stewart Bint

Going barefoot almost all the time is not just part of who I am now…it formed a vital aspect of my recovery from severe mental illness.

The fact that my bare feet are constantly connected with the ground, drawing in the powerful energy from the earth, is a coping strategy devised when I was released from a psychiatric hospital in 1997.

Most exercises involving mental concentration are done barefoot – yoga, martial arts and tai chi. Not that I do any of those, but I’ve discovered over the years that walking barefoot has massive health benefits…both mental and physical.

We’ve all heard of reflexology. This involves freeing accumulated energy which, when not allowed to flow naturally, causes many types of diseases and ailments. Going barefoot on all terrains is a natural process of stimulating parts of the sole of the foot which are connected to our organs and other parts of the body.

Abandoning shoes in almost all situations stimulates my blood circulation; helps my body eliminate a fair amount of fats and toxins; prevents varicose veins; and improves my posture and balance.  Many podiatrists and sections of the medical profession now recognise the enormous health benefits of going barefoot when it comes to fighting sleep disturbance, muscle and joint pain, asthmatic and respiratory conditions, rheumatoid arthritis, hypertension, stress, heart rate variability, and immune system activity and response.

But to me, as well as these physical benefits which I believe have kept me young and fit, belying my 62 years, going barefoot has had an enormous impact on my mental and spiritual well-being.

When you’re barefoot, whether it be on urban streets or woodland, you become so much more aware of your surroundings. You are one with the terrain, not just a spectator. Focusing on your steps and not your problems, clears your mind, putting you at ease, considerably reducing stress and tension.

For the last 20 years, I have rarely given myself the option of shoes – and it’s meant that with every step I take my thought process becomes more focused on the path I’m treading. Consciously, I try to steer clear of stones, thorns, glass, and yes…dog poo, too! When that happens, all negative thoughts vanish and I’m able to focus solely on walking. 

While it works for me, making me much calmer and largely stress-free, I’m not saying being barefoot all the time is right for everyone. You need to find your own way…your own coping strategies. But for me, having bare feet has changed my world.   

Homelessness Day

Homelessness Day

‘Not everyone who becomes homeless is entitled to be housed.’

I am just going to let that above quote sit with you for a moment…

Do people really think that some homeless people deserve to be housed over others? I understand that the government’s priority would be to house homeless families, children and pregnant women before helping others… but to say that some homeless people are simply not entitled to be housed is disgusting (in my opinion).

I want to highlight homelessness and mental health today, as today is in fact both Homelessness Day and Mental Health Day. These are both very important and sensitive topics to discuss, but that gives us more of a reason to talk about them!

The UK government says that if a person has deliberately done or failed to do something that has caused them to become homeless they will not be aided in being housed… Now I definitely do not agree with this statement. I mean, surely no one deliberately does something so that they become homeless? No one chooses to be homeless unless it is a better option than living in their current environment! For example, if a person is experiencing a traumatic time at home (maybe they are going through domestic violence, or are being abused), they may choose to live on the streets to get away from what they perceive as being a dangerous situation. It would take a lot for a person to see the streets as being a better and safer option for them, than living in a house. Therefore, I believe that these people definitely deserve help and guidance, just as much as others. People fail to realise that homelessness can happen to anyone at any time for various reasons. A lot of people look at the homeless in a negative way, as if they are ‘scum’ and that they deserve to be on the streets, despite knowing nothing about the life of those individuals.

Homeless may occur for many different reasons, such as relationship breakdowns, unemployment, poor mental health, alcohol/drug addiction, abuse, domestic violence or redundancy. These are all things that could happen to anyone. It is easy to sit in your nice warm, cosy house and think ‘that will never happen to me’… but the truth is, you never know what is going to happen.  Approximately 300,000 people in the UK alone are homeless. These figures are shocking.

Mental health problems affect 1 in 4 people… however, people who are homeless are 9 times more likely to be affected. A lot of homeless individuals do not receive help for their mental health problems, this could be for a range of different reasons; they may feel embarrassed, they may not know where to go for help, they may be scared of being judged for being homeless, they may feel as though no one cares because they are homeless… this is the impression that our government gives to homeless people. They are made to feel as though they are a problem, when they as individuals are not the issue, homelessness is the problem, not having enough affordable houses is the issue, low wages are the issue, poor mental health services are the issue… and the list could go on.

In the UK, levels of homelessness have increased significantly over the last couple of years when it should be doing the opposite. Our government needs to tackle homelessness by looking at the various causes and doing something about them where possible. Making housing more affordable, increasing wages, supporting people with mental health problems and financial issues, working on the benefits system to make it more practical, not sanctioning people for silly reasons and so on and so forth.

A charity known as Centrepoint help people who are going through various issues such as:

  • Homelessness
  • Emotional and physical abuse
  • Violence and sexual violence
  • Substance misuse
  • Mental health problems
  • Physical health conditions
  • Sleep problems
  • Housing problems

A lot of these issues overlap with one another and people need help and support in order to overcome their problems and become capable individuals again. It is important that people experiencing such problems know where they can go in order to receive that all-important support.
We need more food banks and homeless shelters as well as soup kitchens and community centres. I have spoken with people who have had experiences with being homeless and many of them said they felt safer on the streets than they did in shelters… this means that we should be doing more to make homeless shelters safe places for individuals to sleep, rest and shelter from harsh weathers. No ‘shelter’ should be seen as dangerous or scary… they should be seen as safe havens, a place where people can turn to for help and support. Maybe they should have more security, private rooms, trained staff/management, police presence?

The message here, is that homeless people are still human beings, they are no different to you or to me, they deserve support, guidance and care. They should not be seen as problems, they should not be seen as being unimportant, they should only be seen as human.

Sources:

Full Fact – Homelessness in England

Crisis.org

Centrepoint

 

National Poetry Day

National Poetry Day

This is a poem that I wrote many years ago when I was just 16… although I looked very different back then in comparison to how I look today, I am still very unhappy with what I see when I look in the mirror. I wish my body was in between how it was then and what it is now! That would be ideal for me… but it is going to take a lot of time and effort to make that happen, it also takes a lot of motivation which I often lack as a result of my mental health… 

Anyway, I hope you enjoy this poem, I would not usually share my own poems publically… 

Mirrors

Is my vision distorted?
Is what I see real?
That heartbreaking reflection,
the one in the mirror.

They think it is for attention,
that it is just a cry for help.
But they couldn’t be more wrong,
I genuinely hate myself.

I hate what I see,
It kills me inside,
Looking at my body,
The one I wish I could hide.

How do they not see the same?
They treat me like I’m crazy.
I can’t do this anymore,
I need them to believe me.

My vision is not distorted,
I know just what I see.
That horrible reflection in the mirror,
the one I see, is me.