Sorry I haven’t posted much lately but I just wanted to remind you all that even though I don’t post as much on here I am always here to talk. Also I had to change the email address, there were some technical problems with the other one. The new email is

chloe_barker@live.co.uk

I hope I can continue to hear from you all but until then…

Stay strong and hold on

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Anyone can help

The other day a teacher asked me if I had had special training to be able to help people on this blog, I was a bit confused that she thought I needed training to be able to simply talk to someone about their problems or anything really. It doesn’t take a medical expert to help someone who is going through a tough time and if we just left it to the experts…well we’d all be screwed.

So here are some signs that someone might display if they are self harming

  • Unexplained cuts, bruises or burns on their body particularly their wrists, arms, thighs and chest
  • Wearing long sleeved clothing even in hot weather
  • Signs of low self esteem
  • Blood stains on clothing, tissues or on their body
  • Carrying sharp objects with them such as razors, needles, etc
  • Wanting to be alone for long periods of time, especially if they withdraw to their bedroom or bathroom
  • Becoming more irritable
  • Isolating themselves from conversation and loss of  interest

*Not everyone will display the symptoms and sometimes just because someone wears long sleeved tops and isolates themselves does not mean that they are self harming, be careful when looking for signs*

Although signs of suicidal thoughts are normally harder to spot, some of the more common signs include

  • References to life without them eg – ‘I wouldn’t be missed’ or ‘I wish I hadn’t been born’
  • Attempting to find objects that would harm them
  • Focusing on death, normally seen in their writing
  • Isolating themselves
  • Self loathing
  • Feeling hopeless about the future
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Unusual visits and contact with members of the family and friends where they may seem to be saying goodbye
  • Self destructive behaviour such as increased use of alcohol or drugs

*Sometimes the biggest sign is the least obvious such as the person showing a ‘sudden’ sense of calm as this can mean they have decided to commit suicide. Again these may not always mean they are having suicidal thoughts*

Source – http://www.helpguide.org/mental/suicide_prevention.htm

WARNING – If someone is displaying multiple symptoms, although it is good to talk to them about the way they are behaving, do not make a scene of the situation and make sure you are sure of their actions before confronting them. It would be best to take them somewhere private to discuss it and be open to listening to their reasons and only then is it a good idea to try and help. Do not pressure them into telling you anything about it, they will tell you if they want to and if they are ready so don’t force it. It would also not be a good idea to try to involve anyone else unless it has became serious and they are saying or strongly implying that they will cause themselves harm.

Inspiration

Inspiration for recovery can be found in anything or anyone but for most of us it’s best to take inspiration in those who have been through the same as us and have came out on top. I included a few inspirational people in my ‘response to mental health’ post but those were not the most recent sufferers. And through looking on the world wide web you can see lists of celebrities that you can relate to from Demi Lovato who suffered with self harm to Evanna Lynch who suffered with Anorexia.

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Stay strong and hold on.

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The response to mental health

This post was meant to be for Mental Health Awareness Day, sorry for the delay. I thought I would discuss the general reaction to mental health.

As anyone who suffers from it or has researched into mental health would know, mental health is not looked at positively despite the fact that 1/4 of people will suffer from some kind of mental health problem during their lifetime (the most common disorder being depression or anxiety). And even if you are part of the larger population without any disorder, you will probably experience minor symptoms at some point in your life.

People with these disorders are often associated with being ‘crazy’ or ‘insane’ purely because they do not follow the social norms set out by the majority of the population. However, out of this 25% of the population who will suffer from a mental disorder, only  0.6% will become inpatients in a psychiatric hospital (I am not classing this as being insane, this is just the most extreme circumstance I could think of). I understand that they may not appear to be ‘normal’ to you but in today’s society, I would expect us to have reached past the level of thinking people with these disorders are weak or don’t deserve basic human rights such as having children or the right of life!

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Take a look at some successful people who had mental health problems. I think they did pretty well for themselves considering they were ‘insane’.

Physical health vs mental health

The picture pretty much explains this whole point; mental health is considered inferior to physical health. Well let me tell you, just because you can’t see an injury doesn’t mean it isn’t there.

11% of adult health care costs in the UK are towards physical symptoms caused by mental health problems. 20-30% of consultations in primary care are with people who are experiencing medically unexplained symptoms and have no clear diagnosis.

Mental health problems are also known to cause some physical health problems and more research needs to be done into the diagnosis and care of mental health. The only major points medical professionals have to go off is the Diagnostic Statistical Manuals (DSM) and their own judgement on the patients behaviour and although we have developed enough technology to be able to see abnormalities in the brain there is still an unfair advantage in the technology to detach physical abnormalities, leaving a lot of mental disorders to go through undetected.

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Mental disorders as adjectives

We are probably all guilty of using a mental disorder as an adjective at some point in our lives with the classic ‘I’m so depressed today’ and ‘my God that is so OCD’ but these are serious problems to some people and can cause so much offence, especially if used in the wrong context or as a joke against the disorder. For example ‘you look anorexic’ is likely be used if you were saying someone was thin right? Well anorexia is actually a loss of appetite and craving to lose weight or to want to see yourself as thin where some go to extremes of skipping meals on a regular basis and purging to avoid consuming calories…is this still a joke to you?

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World mental health day

Thursday 10th October was World mental health day and this year I decided to go all out and create a massive project based around the hashtag #youarenotyourdisorder involving wristbands, artwork, photography and posters. The results of this will appear on this blog over the next couple of weeks, so keep your eyes open!

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Stay strong and hold on.

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Approaches

This post isn’t as much for the person dealing with the problem but more for the friend or family member who is trying to support them. It’s kind of a follow up post for the ‘telling someone’ post, I think they link together nicely. So the way I see it there are three main approaches when someone tells you that they are suffering with a mental disorder.

The aggressive approach

This approach is not necessary being physically aggressive but becoming verbally aggressive tends to be quite a common response and it is not one that I would recommend at all because it normally ends up with a lot of arguing, shouting and crying. Normally a guilt trip is involved which is when you tell them that other people have it worse (a common comparison being the children in Africa)

*helpful hint – telling someone that others have it worse won’t make them any better*

Some people need to realize that just because other people have it ‘worse’ does not mean that their own life is great and they may not be as emotionally strong as those people and arguing with someone when they have picked you as the person to tell in their time of need really won’t help them, in fact it may cause them to shut down from you and push you away. They may feel that you don’t understand and that if you didn’t then no one else will and that can wreck their trust and themselves in the long term.

The silent approach

This approach is to allow your friend or family member just to let it all out and cry or talk to you about it without requiring any feedback from you, let them tell you everything they feel comfortable to tell you without interruption. Although you may feel like you are not helping them, surprisingly you normally are. An outlet for all the emotions that they have bottled up inside themselves for so long can finally be released unto a person that they hopes will understand and support them. This is a massive step so sometimes the most helpful thing you can do is listen.

The supportive approach

This is probably the most common approach. Normally you listen and advise them on what they should do, followed by hugs and silly attempts to make them laugh and take their mind off their problems. Maybe you could help them reach the next step or even the first or second step in recovery, maybe by going to the doctors or therapist with them (if it’s their choice – don’t force them into anything) or by something as simple as getting them out of their house if they are having a bad day.

Warning – don’t enter into a long term commitment to support them if you aren’t going to stick with them through everything including the mood swings, the relapses and them trying to push you away because that can be detrimental.