Posted in advocacy, Community, Emotions, Peer Support, psychology, science, Uncategorized, Voices, writing

Why I left Social Media Mental Health Advocacy

I got tired of living for my unwellness. It’s as simple as that.

One of the most rampant messages in mental health advocacy among peers is “I am not my illness,” which also requires you to view yourself as ill, which I never have, even with such “damning” diagnoses like Schizoaffective and PTSD. The thing is, if you are not your illness, why is it the focus of your day 24/7? Why are you constantly evaluating your symptoms to the point where simple, normal, everyday reactions are suddenly a product of your “illness” and you post each bad moment (with a sprinkle of good)? Don’t get me wrong, I get that the whole point is to erase stigma, especially when a diagnosis is on the schizophrenia spectrum. We’re seen as dangerous or unpredictable or unfit for society, and to come out and share your story theoretically shows people that we do not fit those labels. You know what else shows that?

Literally living your life.

Literally.

I hate that word literally, but this time I actually mean LITERALLY.

I’ve held a job for the last five years, I go to college, I love reading, art, writing, making music, writing songs, shopping, traveling, driving, going out for a drink once in a while. I enjoy people for the most part, until I’ve had enough of them. Best Buy and other tech stores are my safe haven. I would like to work in a lab one day or maybe as an editor or maybe both. The last thing on my mind is schizoaffective, and not because I don’t deal with bizarre thoughts or anxieties or delusions or voices or voice-thoughts or visual interruptions, but because the more I focus on it, the worse it gets.

If some people want to focus their life around their symptoms, that’s great. For me, I’d rather show neurotypical people that I can live just as normal and full of a life as they can. That discounts the myths of dangerousness and unpredictability more than me selling my face on instagram or Facebook with a caption of “we are not ‘this, this, this or this’.”

Don’t mistake this for hate. I know many people who do just that on Instagram. And you know what? We NEED some of that. We need some people constantly talking about it to keep it in people’s faces. The thing is, I’m just not fit for it. I want to live happily and healthily and focusing on psychosis doesn’t help me do that.

What I will never give up is sharing pertinent information on mental health and discussing the ramifications of the unending fraud of psychological and pharmaceutical research. For example, a ramification of that is everyone actually believing in the poorly supported hypothesis of chemical imbalance. It’s why I’m going to school.

I will also always counter people’s stigma where I find it. I will always promote peer services and maybe one day design research around them. So I’m not giving up being apart of the mental health community. I’m giving up what I thought I was supposed to do: share my story constantly, talk about my symptoms constantly, wrap my whole entire life around my experiences, constantly.

That shit is boring, I’ve realized, and stressful.

I feel this is the last time I will mention my diagnoses on this blog for the sake of my own health. I appreciate people who do share their story and who find solace in it. I, too, found solace in sharing my story when the psychosis hit heavy and I was still in denial and confused and suddenly my entire life was a lie. I needed people to relate to and I had so much to figure out about myself. I’ve gone past that point now. Now it’s time to actually live.

Thanks for reading, guys. I was absent to go to my second viewing/funeral in the last five months, and just needed a few days to let the existentialism quiet down.

Don’t forget to hit that follow button and join me over on instagram @alilivesagain or on twitter @thephilopsychotic.

Posted in advocacy, Community, Late Night Thoughts, Peer Support

Your Role In The mental Health System

This is to all my fellow psychology majors, graduates, and future students. What do you believe your role in the industry is?

To all my fellow mental health consumers, what do you believe your role is?

These are the two simple questions I have. I’ll share mine, and I ask for you to share yours in the comments below!

I am both a major and a mental health consumer, but both roles have shifted dramatically. I thought my role as a worker was to help people. I thought my role as a mental health consumer didn’t exist; I knew I struggled with anxiety, but I believed it was just another hurdle to get over, and I’d gotten over many hurdles before.

I learned my role in the industry as a worker wasn’t to help people, and that people are mostly capable of helping themselves. My role was one of support and guidance so that they may discover what they are capable of. My role has also shifted recently in this aspect. My schooling has shifted from the goal of counseling psychology to the goal of research and clinical education. I know I want to be one to bring science and empirical data to the forefront of the industry. All this glorious information is sitting there wasted because clinicians don’t take the time to read it, and because the system is built in such a way that paying for training and education is ridiculously expensive for clinicians. Research is becoming more biased and doctored and that’s obviously a problem too. I want peer support integrated. I want evidence-based treatment properly understood.

My role in the industry as a consumer has changed as well. It’s bounced back and forth between dependent and utterly independent. It’s bounced between needing professionals and shunning professionals. It’s bounced between feeling hopeless and feeling as if I’m finally healing. I also have learned that my role includes reaching out to others, accepting their help, while also letting others reach out to me.

I look forward to reading your thoughts below.

Or, catch up with me on:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @philopsychotic

If you liked this post, please share and follow The Philosophical Psychotic. I appreciated every reader and commentator. You give me more reason to encourage critical thinking about mental health.

Posted in Peer Support, Questions for you, science, Voices

What’s Your Ideal Treatment?

I think one thing that frustrates me the most about mental health treatment services today is that the services available are shoddy, expensive, and instead of being tailored toward the individual they’re tailored to the diagnosis.

For example, if you walk in to your average psychiatrist and say: “I have a diagnosis of Schizophrenia. My mom just passed and I’ve been struggling a lot at work. I haven’t had to be on meds for a while (or, I’m on a low dose of meds, or my medication usually works), and really I’ve just been struggling with anxiety. I’m shaking a lot and I think I need some help. What do you suggest?” Chances are all your psychiatrist heard was “schizophrenia”.

It’s better to leave the diagnosis out of it.

I use this example because I can empathize with it. My most recent psychiatrist, for example, couldn’t get it out of her head that I hear voices sometimes, even though I said my voices and I are on pretty decent terms compared to what others struggle through. For me, they aren’t 24/7, they are a mix of inside my head and outside of my head, aren’t very commanding, and I gather comfort from their perspective sometimes. I am not overly attached to them. What I went to her for was anxiety and mood issues, as my official diagnosis is schizoAFFECTIVE. She seemed to remove the affective part, completely ignored the fact that a death close to me unhinged me (she said “Oh, that’s tough”, and moved on), and continuously tried to medicate my voices instead of focusing on ways I could help my anxiety–the reason I came to her.

Mind you, through all of our appointments, she never once asked me what my voices are like, what I think about them, how they respond to me. The reception staff messed up on my insurance and suddenly I owe them money I don’t have. Every time I email her for a simple question, which could be answered in an email, she wants to set up an appointment so I have to pay for it. This is why I stayed away from mainstream mental health.

But it’s not just that.

Studies show residential, communal, and peer support services are, dare I say, essential for growth and recovery, and yet you’ll be hard pressed to find any of those services affordable, available, or promoted in your area. I work in peer support, and I didn’t learn about any programs until I got a job there. Doctors didn’t know, therapists didn’t know, and of course it would be much too hard for them to do their job and help me find something.

Maybe this is just a California complaint.

There are wonderful communal options and residential facilities, places where true growth and opportunity are available . . .to those who can afford 35,000 dollars a month.

My point here is not a rant. My point is that mental health treatment has gone from ice baths in asylums backed by half-assed scientists to money traps and one-size-fits-all cardboard boxes backed by people with degrees who haven’t read a psychological research paper since their undergraduate research methods class.

We’ve dropped the ice baths, the asylums, AND the scientists.

Don’t you think this needs to change? What would you change? What is your version of ideal treatment? Leave your comments below or come to my instagram and join the discussion!

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @philopsychotic

If you liked this post, please share and follow The Philosophical Psychotic. I appreciate every reader and commentator. You give me more reason to encourage critical thinking about mental health.

Posted in Peer Support, science, Voices

Self-Compassion and Hearing Voices

Let’s talk about this concept of self-love, self-compassion and why it’s so pivotal when hearing voices.

My experience with the diagnosis Schizoaffective (Bipolar Type) may be different than yours, vastly, and much more so if you have been diagnosed with the blanket term Schizophrenia. I read a post the other day on an alternative treatment center dedicated solely to Schizoaffective, discussing their push to separate the label from the umbrella term schizophrenia, citing a need to treat it in its own category. I don’t think it’s so much the category that needs individualization, but the treatment itself. That’s a story for another day.

My point of bringing that into the story is that not everyone hears voices constantly and not everyone hears them the same way. Researchers are starting to catch up with this fact. There have been just a *few* studies into the differences between thought-like voices and external (hearing outside of the ear) voices, and some of the studies are fascinating. One, which I will link later when I find it again, cited 17% as the amount of time people say they heard exclusively external voices. For your personal interest, here is a survey and a study highlighting the differences between external and internal experiences.

Some of the marked differences included the types of responses. The researchers hypothesized that internal voices may have a more distressing quality to them–and this does not mean that external sounds and voices aren’t distressing, it just means they have a particular scale they were using to rate this. They obviously have no idea what it’s like in either experience. Let’s not make this into a petty competition about “who has it worse”. I hate that. It happens a lot in the mental health community, I’ve noticed.

The last table of the study showed some interesting percentages:

Hallucination Type:

Non-Verbal Auditory

Voices Commenting.

Voices Conversing

Voices commanding.

Commands to harm/kill oneself.

Commands to harm/kill others.

Positive/helpful voices

Persecutory Voices

Internal (or both)

63%

85%

55%

83%

30%

33%

32%

73%

External only

59%

68%

26%

66%

37%

13%

46%

53%

If you look at the study, they also listed their Chi-squared test results (statistical measurement) and their P values, bolding the significant differences. I’ve bolded the ones which were significantly different.

What Does This Mean?

They use this as evidence to confirm their hypothesis, I use it as evidence to show that variability in our experiences of the world. I also use it as evidence to show kindness and compassion is a necessity to yourself. If you are constantly being attacked by Persecutory Voices telling you the police believe you’re a murderer or a pedophile or a liar who has put their entire family in danger of the C.I.A, it takes a lot of strength to tell them “I’m better than you’re saying” or “I’m not any of what you’re telling me I am.” It takes double the strength to do so in a composed, neutral manner. It also takes a lot of practice. I still yell sometimes. I try not to do it in public.

It also takes a level of confidence in yourself, and comfortability with yourself, acceptance that what other people say about you isn’t necessarily true, and all of that can be easily stripped away from years of hospitalizations and being told you’re sick, ill, and broken. It rarely gets built back up because people with schizophrenia and psychosis alike are not encouraged into therapy much of the time. They aren’t encouraged to explore themselves. They aren’t encouraged to melt into the darkness because, well, it’s too dark. This prevents the growth necessary to heal.

Therapists and professionals are scared to talk when someone is, to them, incomprehensible, and for some reason they’re also scared to listen, as if they might hear something that makes sense in a bout of babbling that shouldn’t make any sense. And so a lot of the work is left up to us. After all, we are the ones with the voices, the thoughts, and the thought-like voices.

What Does Compassion Mean?

I had an experience a few months ago that was another cog in the machine of changing the way I see my voices. Although they’ve been telling me to kill a lot lately, mostly myself, sometimes other people if I’m around them, they’re not usually as aggressive, not since I’ve accepted them as beings tied down by the law of opposites: good must exist in the bad for the bad to exist, and bad must exist in the good for good to exist. When I realized they can’t possibly exist outside of that truth, I stopped labeling them as demons. For the past two years they’ve shaped into your regular, uncertain, lost souls, just like the rest of us.

But one night I felt particularly scattered, my thoughts weren’t making sense, and one of my voices told me to go for a drive. They urged and urged until I got off my ass and did so. We drove out to the cliffs, and I worried if I stopped the car I’d have a heart attack. So I kept driving and cry-singing because that’s always the best medicine, and at some point I think I asked them “why are you doing this to me?” And the response I got was something along the lines of “pain is necessary”. And I stopped crying not because the answer was profound, it’s certainly not, but because it reminded me of everything I’ve ever read, everything I’ve ever calculated, everything I’ve ever understood. There was a beauty in the pain I’d forgotten about, there had to be because pain cannot exist without the concept of pleasure and visa versa. He reminded me of my own duality and that this too shall pass; it must, for something that comes must also go.

And so part of the compassion involved with dealing with voices is submitting yourself, not in a passive way, but in an understanding way. If you don’t listen to them, they will never listen to you. To talk back is to not be “more crazy”, it’s to learn about yourself. That’s all you’re doing. You’re not “feeding into the sickness”. You’re not “making yourself worse”. You’re learning more than your therapist will ever know.

Another part of compassion is building your self-esteem. This can’t come from repeated mirror mantra’s of “you can do this”. Studies show it can make you feel worse; when you don’t live up to your expectations, you take a harder hit than someone who didn’t look at themselves in the mirror and convince themselves of a lie.

I say it’s a lie because if you don’t actually believe it while you’re saying it, it’s pointless. And telling yourself you believe it is not the same as believing it.

I’ve built my self-esteem along the years through support of others encouragement. Most of believing in myself came from other people believing in me, believing I could do something when I didn’t believe I could. Now, you see the opposite effect a lot of the time: in hospitals, for example, you may encounter a professional who has no confidence in your healing path (although they may consistently say “you can do this) and the less they believe in you, the more you’re convinced you’re sick for life, doomed to a plethora of medication and condescending doctors. Imagine the opposite. Imagine surrounding yourself with supportive people who understanding that falling down, that relapse, is apart of the process. Remember the law of opposites: one thing cannot exist without the other. You will have days of confidence, days of no confidence, and it’s how to grow from each happy and not-so-happy experience that will dictate your future path.

I think there are a bunch of cliche things you can list for self-compassion and care: eat healthy, exercise, reach out for help when you need it. Those are blanket examples, things that promote over-all wellness, but I think when dealing with voices, your self-compassion must be very individualized. What you and your voices need may be different from what me and my voices need, and this is why modern-day psychiatry has failed in so many aspects.

Showing yourself compassion also means avoiding judgement. Be careful labeling a feeling, voice, thought, as good or bad. Be careful labeling yourself as good or bad. What I’ve found more helpful is asking myself how the moment (if I hear something negative or positive, if I think of something strange, bizarre, or scary) can help me grow. If a voice tells me to pick up a rock and kill my partner with it, I ask myself if killing my partner will help me grow. The obvious answer is no. And therefore I respect the request, acknowledge the voice (laugh about it kind of) and continue on with my day, judgement-free.

Is Being Alone Okay?

Yes. This is part of the individualistic plan. For me, I haven’t yet gotten comfortable talking about my voices to anyone other than my significant other, and at times (if I’m feeling spunky) my therapist. Most of you know I work in peer services, and have the opportunity to talk about my voices everyday with others who experience similar things, and I find it very difficult to do so. I was raised to stay quiet and it’s been a long journey realizing that I don’t need to force myself to speak, even if others say that’s what I need to do to heal. I also don’t need to force myself to stay quiet. There’s a delicate balance here.

If keeping to yourself, exploring your feelings and voices with yourself, is what has helped enlighten you, what has helped you process your emotions, then that is okay. Remember how we mentioned it doesn’t matter what other people say? About how accepting that mind-state may help also with voices, particularly ones that accuse you of things? Well, shocker: it also supports you in dealing with pushy people who think they know how you should live.

We get told a lot of things. We get told we have to do this, eat this, act this way, fit this mold, fit this criteria, apply for this, stop doing this, take this, etc. We are rarely given the chance to truly decide for ourselves, and taking away that level of independence doesn’t built self-esteem. You are capable of making decisions for yourself.

I find that processing things in my head is quicker, more efficient, and when I come to a realization I get a warm feeling from the top of my head to the soles of my feet. Those are moments that change my perspective. I rarely have those moments when discussing feelings with people. That being said, there are moments I can’t keep things in my head, when I need to vent to someone, or ask for an outside perspective, and those times are okay too.

Overall . . .

. . . I think it’s important to recognize that no one is one-size-fits-all and that every way of living is an acceptable way of living, as it is life doing what life does. We may not see one person’s life as the way we think it should go. We may see more potential in them than they do in themselves, and that makes us want to help, make us want to push them into being “better” and that’s a judgement. It is. It is inevitable in life that some people will never heal. You may judge or perceive this as sad, but if everyone always healed then there would be no such thing as being stuck. If there was no such things as being stuck, well, there would be no such thing (or need for) healing. We wouldn’t exist as complex beings, only cookie-cutter versions of each other.

Each way to wellness (or not wellness), whether that be medication, no medication, therapy, no therapy, family, or no family, is an acceptable path. Once you are able to avoid judgement of where you are, once you are able to avoid the trap of “I should be here, but instead I’m here“, you will see life get much simpler.

If you want to connect or inquire about sharing your story/organization here, reach me at:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @philopsychotic

If you enjoyed this post, please share, like, and follow The Philosophical Psychotic. I appreciate all of my readers and commentators. You all give me more reason to encourage critical thinking about mental health.

Posted in advocacy, Community, Peer Support

Mental Health Updates During The Apocalypse

Good morning friends. I thought I would give another round of updates, since I’ve been gone for a while again, sorting through my mental health, advocating, and networking. Here is what’s going on, and how you may be able to get involved.

Firstly, I treated myself to a new laptop so that writing blog posts is smoother, school work is more efficient, and I can keep up with the times and the demands of technology.

Secondly, I wanted to voluntarily commit myself so bad, but Coronavirus stopped me. I think what makes staying busy so difficult is that my brain is always running, always talking, always thinking, and so when I have other tasks that need finishing or starting, they feel like a lot more of a burden than they are. So I’ve been struggling with feeling relaxed, I’ve been struggling with what I want to do as a career, and I’ve been exhausted just talking for people for ten minutes. My voices haven’t been bad, which I am both surprised and grateful for. My depression hasn’t come back, but I notice a deep sadness laying dormant in the back of my head.

Thirdly, as I started speaking up more on my Instagram, I’ve met a lot of great people scattered across the internet, from therapists to peers. I’ve gotten involved as an Advocacy member on the network of Students With Psychosis. I will pop a link to them below. Whether you are a student or taking a break, you can be involved too. They have virtual meetings each day of the week, including peer support groups. So if you’ve been isolating because of COVID or you’re having a tough time, they could be a great resource. You can also apply to be apart of their advocacy network or as an intern.

I’ve been featured on a couple mental health pages since I last posted as well. I’ve spoken with NPR (although not sure if my direct voice will be picked yet) and I’ve been participating in local support for the civil rights movement going on and strong right now.

My Instagram account got hacked. All of my messages with people I’ve networked with, particularly surrounding Black Lives Matter topics and African-American mental health topics, were deleted and also muted. Fake links were sent out through my message system, fishing for people to click so their account could also be hacked. I felt invaded, disgusted, and targeted. As someone who consistently struggles with feeling this way, it only intensifies when it actually starts happening. My account is secured now, as well as the rest of my phone. Word is there is a group of possibly white nationalists targeting social justice accounts dealing with Black Lives Matter, protests, and positive change. The organizer of the local protest on Juneteenth was also hacked.

I’ve been juggling a lot of outside stress and working full time for the first time in my life. There’s been so many virtual meetings and trainings that I’m sure I don’t ever want to hear the word “zoom” or “teams” again.

I want to bring more content to this blog again. We had a great thing going during my Mental Health Month series posts. I’d like to talk more about my experience and interpretation of voices and psychosis. I’d like to talk more about the philosophy of the mental health system and why it must also be disbanded and rebooted much like the police force in the United States right now. We have a lot to discuss everyone.

So, that will be the plan for these next upcoming days and weeks: talk more about psychosis and the mental health system, and less about my whiny updates on my convoluted life.

If you’d like to check out Students with Psychosis, you can click here. The group is great and the peer support is REAL!

I’ll provide links to other mental health social media groups, pages, and helpful avenues after some of my posts for those looking to get involved, find support, or just want to be more knowledgable.

If you want to connect with me or inquire about sharing your own story/mental health network here, reach me on:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @philopsychotic

If you enjoyed this post, please share, like, and follow ThePhilosophicalPsychotic. I appreciate all of my readers and commentators. You all give me more reason to encourage critical thinking about Mental Health.

Posted in advocacy, Community, Emotions, Freedom, Late Night Thoughts, Peer Support, psychology

Civil Rights Movement 2020

NO JUSTICE, NO PEACE.

This is the slogan circulating social media as I speak.

Los Angeles, San Jose, Oakland, NYC,Atlanta, Minneapolis, Memphis, Louisville. The list continues.

I posted yesterday about the importance of African American mental health support in a time when we are watching ourselves get killed across social media, in a time that is eerily similar to the civil rights movement of 2020–except that now we have video.

Now we have PROOF.

We can watch the brutality, watch the racism, watch the hatred.

We can see the anger, the violence, the threats that result from hundreds of years of oppressive social states.

I think popular opinion is that protesting is okay but looting is overkill. I refuse to take a stance on this because the level of internal anguish that comes from generational trauma cannot be overlooked because a Target burned down.

I do not wish harm on anyone, be it protester, officer, or store clerk. We must keep our focus. We MUST remember the message and focus less on the damage we can cause. Every human can cause destruction. It takes someone truly enlightened to channel that hurt and anger into a passionate, effective message.

I have been crying for hours.

A 19 year old man was killed by officers in a San Jose protest. I live 45 minutes from San Jose. Our protests will be happening this weekend.

I have been crying for hours.

I wonder what George Floyd sees, if he can watch us from the other realm. I don’t know much about him other than community members describing him as a kind, generous man. Was his death what we needed? Is this what transitions our country into a time of healing? We thought change would come with Trump and it indeed has: it’s brought disorganization, divide, and racism to the forefront of our consciousness. This is the 2020 vision we all thought it would be.

I have been crying for hours.

There are videos of eight year old african-american children crying for equality in a room full of people, speaking to adults in charge.

I have been crying for hours.

I don’t think the feelings can be properly explained. I have been feeling invaded and attacked, my paranoia surfacing strong. I am feeling that Twitter, TikTok, and Instagram have been hacking my cell phone because of the message I am spreading. I am trending in social media on Instagram for videos I have found online of necessary violence against protesters who AREN’T looting.

There is an undeniable connection between all of us African-american’s right now. It seems we are always united in pain.

That’s painful.

When this ends, will we go back to killing each other in the name of “honor” or “reputation” in the streets? When this ends, will our style, culture, and way of being in the world be imitated and copied still by musicians, influences, and celebrities who have been SILENT in the face of this revolution? When this ends, will we encourage our kids to be more involved in politics? When this ends, will we still have to identify ourselves as black Americans? Or will we be called simply “Americans?”

When this ends, will we still be united?

What can we do to lift each other up after this? We can’t just destroy buildings and black-owned businesses.

We are always united in pain. How can we maintain our unification in revelation?

I am 24 years old, my birthday in 2 weeks. My father is 61 years old, and was just a kid during the 1960’s civil rights movement. He has been arrested illegally for a robbery he didn’t commit and spent a year in jail until they found out they were wrong. He’s spent his life fighting racist citizens and cops and community to the point that he sleeps with a hunting knife near and is always worried about getting into a fight or someone bursting in our door.

It’s my turn now to experience a racial revolution, to participate, and to find my identity. I am a light-skinned African-American who has been profiled by police, given unjustified tickets, had back-up and four cops called on her while she was simply sitting in the car, hands very visible on the steering wheel. I did not breathe. I grew up in a school with maybe 4 black students, and went on to a college that catered only to Hispanic students (for the record this wasn’t a problem, many Hispanic students need the help, but so do the black students who are systematically underprivileged compared to even Hispanic students).

My chest is tight. I can’t imagine living in the 50s, the 20s, the 1800s.

I’m mixed race; I would have been a product of rape and an eventual sexual object used for humiliation and, in my adulthood, a symbol of rape.

I can’t imagine living in the United States in any other time than this one.

I’d be dead.

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @philopsychotic

TikTok: @alisaysno

Posted in advocacy, Emotions, Freedom, Late Night Thoughts, Peer Support, psychology, Supporting Friends/Family, Uncategorized

Mental Health And African-American LIves

There was not a Mental Health Month post on Thursday for Somatic Disorders as I anticipated, not because I ran out of time but because my mind has been engrossed in other disturbing realities and going-ons in America. I will do a post on Somatic Disorders soon. But firstly, we need to discuss something.

For all the mental health websites and advocate pages on Instagram who are American-run and have not mentioned ONE DAMN THING about the riots in Louisville, Kentucky and Minneapolis, Minnesota right now, you should be ashamed of yourselves. ASHAMED.

How dare you claim to be an advocate of mental health and not bring to light the racial issues that are not only causing MORE trauma for today’s generation of colored folks, but is fueled also by the generational trauma of our ancestors.

I am a mixed race individual; my father is African American and my mother is Caucasian. I am light skinned, often mistaken for Mexican, and my mental health and physical health has been impacted by this. Doctors are less attentive. They don’t listen properly. They accuse me of drug use in the middle of my panic attacks.

For African American people in America, there is a lot of grief. There is a lot of trauma, a lot of loss, a lot of pain. We feel unsafe, unheard, tossed aside. That births anger, rage, and perpetuates violence. With the recent murders of George Floyd and Ahmaud Abery and Breonna Taylor (George and Breonna murdered by police; George was already on the ground with three cops on top of him and Breonna was IN HER HOUSE), all of these feelings and this connection we have to each other is growing stronger. Violence is happening because of the angst of hundreds of years of BULLSHIT.

So the fact that so many pages are claiming to talk about Mental Health and are avoiding this issue for political reasons I suspect makes me sick to my stomach. Until this is addressed in all facets, nothing will change. As social media has been circulating: No Justice, No Peace.

Not only does blatantly ignoring this subject aide in the problem rather than the solution, it also sends the message that those of us in the american mental health system who are dark don’t matter as much. We don’t need to talk about this collective pain we feel right now because your page can’t afford arguments in the comments.

I say affectionately, FUCK YOU.

Get off your fucking high horse.

Remember when I said I have made very frank posts on my previous blog? This is one of them.

Get off your fucking high horse and recognize that the deaths of these people, the murders of these people, affect African-American people across this nation. My anxiety, my grief, my voices, my paranoia have all doubled because of what I see happening to the people who are part of my ancestral family. I feel the same for the Native Americans who are hit the hardest with COVID-19 and receiving absolutely no help, except a box of body bags rather than PPE. Part of my family is Native to North America and their suffering has only added to my grief.

This IS a mental health topic. Racism IS a mental health topic. Not because racism is a disorder, but because how it effects people dictates their mental states. To advocate at this time for mental health without reminding followers and subscribers that people of color are collectively struggling mentally with this, to the point that VICE has to be the one magazine to offer self-care tips for African Americans, IS SELFISH.

It’s SELFISH to ignore this as a mental health topic.

I’ve been sick to my stomach all day, lost in my thoughts and my pain and watching Minnesota burn down their police station.

If we truly are all in this together, then where is your support for the black community right now? Where is your acknowledgement of our mental health in a time when we are watching ourselves get killed? Somewhere up your ass?

Good Night.

Posted in advocacy, Community, Peer Support, Supporting Friends/Family, Voices

Broken and Crippled by Mental Illness

*A featured personal story for this MENTAL HEALTH MONTH series.

Some months after my relationship with the boys’ dad ended, I had what can only be described as a ‘break down‘. And that’s exactly what it felt like because, both physically and mentally, I was broken.

Anxious About Anxiety

I started to get these odd sensations; I could feel my heart thumping out of my chest and could hear it pounding in my ears. Lots of jumbled and disturbing thoughts races around in my head and I felt scared all the time, so I was constantly jittery. I was anxious about being anxious again and much of the time I felt like I was on the world’s longest and biggest rollercoaster.

Sometimes, there was so much adrenaline buzzing through my body, my nerves were jangling, and I couldn’t sit still, so I’d pace around my home. At other times, I felt exhausted or gripped vice-like with sheer terror so I couldn’t move.

Drowning in Quicksand

I was having what I now know to be panic attacks – throughout the day and particularly at night keeping me awake until it was time to get the boys ready for school. It felt like how people explained having a heart-attack. My fingers and toes were tingling, and I could feel the colour drain from my face. I was finding it hard to catch a breath it felt like I was drowning in quicksand, so I’d lie rigid until it passed, knowing it would be followed by another, and another.

It was torturous, twenty-four-seven, week on week and with no end in sight, I wished I was dead. Although close friends and family were aware of the break-up, I couldn’t tell anyone what was going through my head, scared they’d think I was mad and that I should be locked away. This was to continue for around eighteen months.

Help was on it’s Way

I’ll be eternally grateful that our GP eventually noticed and taking me aside, he urged “Tell me, what’s the problem? You’ve lost so much weight and though you smile, I think you are very sad.” Once I’d explained and told him that I was devastated by the break-up, he was able to get me to immediate counselling. He actually drove me to our local hospital where he knew the Psychiatric Team.

Fortunately, although I had suicidal thoughts, the psychiatrist and his team were confident that I had no intention of killing myself. I’d told them I knew I couldn’t do that to my sons. I couldn’t possibly leave them with that legacy. Three years of painful weekly counselling followed.

Return to Study

I was on the road to recovery when I realised I wanted to study but I wasn’t sure I was clever enough and I wasn’t sure what to study. I thought I’d test the water and start small, so I took evening and weekend courses in Shiatsu. This was quickly followed by Swedish Massage, Seated Massage, Aromatherapy and finally, Indian Head Massage, where I was trained by the blind guy who invented it (Narendra Mehta). I loved it and so too did my family and friends who I practised on.

I had the massage table, the massage chair, lots of fluffy white towels and a full kit of aromatherapy oils. However, despite passing my exams with distinction in all the above types of massage, I just couldn’t charge anyone. I didn’t like asking for money so all I asked in return was a fluffy towel or an aromatherapy oil.

In February 1997 I learned I was about to be made redundant again, which was fantastic as I’d seen a large advert in the Evening Standard looking for General Nurses to study at my local University and Hospital. This didn’t so much interest me but, right at the bottom of the ad, there was a few lines about becoming a Mental Health Nurse. It felt right, and I believed that my own experience of mental illness would help to make me a good mental health nurse.

My Recovery

So, during my recovery from, what I learnt was, a lengthy psychotic depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and anorexia, I applied to train as a Mental Health Nurse. After three long years of study, I worked successfully as a Mental Health Nurse in various settings before becoming a Ward Manager. I had the honour of meeting thousands of people who shared their chaotic and difficult life stories with me, possibly for the first time ever. I always felt humbled by their often-fraught experiences and journeys through mental illness.

Now Physically Disabled:

I remain extremely passionate about raising mental health awareness, I’m a determined advocate of mental illness and continue to fight the stigma, the social exclusion and discrimination that come with it.

As one person I cannot change the world, but I can change the world of one person.” – Paul Shane Spear

“Think of the enormous impact if just ONE PERSON improved the world of just ONE PERSON. That alone might change the world. And everyone in the world would be part of the change.” – Samuel Rozenhider

A big THANK YOU to Caz for her willingness to share her story about moving through anxiety. Catch her at THESES LINKS:

For tips on anxiety and panic attacks, you can use my link, here: https://mentalhealthfromtheotherside.com/2020/01/17/10-quick-and-easy-coping-techniques-for-anxiety-and-panic-attacks/

Or use my home page, here: https://mentalhealthfromtheotherside.com/

My twitter feed, here: https://twitter.com/hannahsmiley

Pinterest boards, here: https://www.pinterest.co.uk/pin/800444533760600123/

Read more about today’s anxiety diagnosis and research post for Mental Health Month

Posted in advocacy, Community, Peer Support, Supporting Friends/Family, Voices

The Line Up for Sharing Your Story this Mental Health Month.

Hello friends!

I have some time before work to put out the writing schedule of this months posts, all dedicated to learning more about DSM diagnoses and the research that backs them up (or doesn’t). I’m also asking for people’s experiences so that we may add a personal aspect to all of the clinical madness.

If you want to submit your story (200 words or more), you can find my contact information on my HOME page (click here) or you can reach me on my social media handles (below).

Each post will go live on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday each week of May. The Line Up is as follows:

Week of May 4th: Anxiety Disorders, Obsessive/compulsive and related disorders, and Trauma and Stressor related disorders.

Week of May 11th: Schizophrenia, Bipolar, and Dissociative disorders.

Week of May 18th: Somatic disorders, Eating disorders, and Depressive disorders.

Week of May 25: Gender Dysphoria, Neurodevelopmental disorders, and Personality Disorders.

On Monday, May 31st, we will give a quick summary, explore feelings that may come up, and find ways we can celebrate and inform people about mental health every day, not just one month out of the year.

For submitting your story:

If you would like to present something 200 words or more, your story will be posted separately from the main article, but on the SAME DAY as your topic. For example, if you want to submit your story about anxiety, it will be posted within an hour of the main post this Thursday.

If you would like to provide a quote or small paragraph (less than 200 words) it will be included in the main post at relevant points.

For both types of submissions, I can link your blog, social media, name, or anything else that you’d like. For longer stories, if you want to write a bio, I will put it at the end of your post.

Please share this information with friends, family, and anyone you feel would want to participate. If you yourself wants to participate, please contact me.

Social Media:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @philopsychotic

Let’s empower each other and remind the world why we matter.

Posted in advocacy, Community, Peer Support, Voices

Share Your Story

In honor of May being Mental Heath Month, I’ve decided to do something consistent, informative, and fun on this blog.

During the course of May, starting this week, every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I will be doing one or two posts dedicated to a diagnostic category. This means we will be covering stuff like anxiety disorders, schizophrenia spectrum disorders, ADHD, Autism, and more.

I notice when people give information about disorders, they limit what they share to symptoms, medications, and the everlasting advice of self-care. This will be covered as well, my sources being my DSM-5 copy. But we will expand on this, address the most recent research articles I can find (and gain access to), and talk about supportive options that vary beyond just medication and doctors. We will address mental health as whole-person health.

I would also like to include personal experiences or quotes from those of you willing to share. This could be a direct quote or small paragraph from YOU that expresses what it feels like to experience living with mental health conditions, or it could be as simple as a list of words describing your experience.

If you would like to do a longer piece (anything above 200 words), I will post that separately, the same day as the other article, and link the two to each other. For example, if your story is about your experience with anxiety, I will link that up with the article talking about anxiety disorders.

You can reach me from my contact page (listed on the home screen of my blog) or you can reach me at my social media accounts listed below. I will also be including some of my own experiences if there aren’t enough people who feel comfortable sharing.

Please share this with someone who you feel might want to participate, or with someone who you feel would like to follow this series throughout this month. We will be learning a lot and challenging the current perspective of mental health.

The goal of this little project is to show the world that we are capable, determined, literate, and worthy human beings, just as everyone else. This is also a way to empower each other and remind ourselves that we are so much more than we give ourselves credit for sometimes. Especially during these times, its important to remember the good about ourselves, about others, and sharing our stories can support us in that.

If you’d like to participate, you can reach me at my social media handles here:

Instagram: @written_in_the_photo

Twitter: @thephilopsychotic

Or click at this link to be taken to my contact page.

Give me an idea of what you’d like to contribute and we can work together in getting your voice out there. Feel free to also contact me if you have a particular category you’d like this series to focus on this coming Thursday, Friday, Or Saturday.

I will also include your blog, social media handle, and/or name (if you’d like) at the end of each article. All articles will be promoted on my twitter handle and Instagram handle.

Thank you everyone. Please share this so we can have multiple voices. Mental Health month is about togetherness, erasing stigma, and uniting as a positive force in the word. Stay healthy, be well, and I’ll see you all on Thursday.