Category Archives: mental health
I’ve been wanting to write something on hypochondria for a while now, because I think it’s one of the more misunderstood mental illness and is subjected to more jokes/misrepresentations. People have said before that I’m a hypochondriac, while it’s not something that I find to be insulting (as others some times do) I also know it’s not true. The problem with people assuming that I’m a hypochondriac is that it proves the amount of misunderstanding that surrounds hypochondria. What I have in a couple of different chronic illnesses and chronic pain, which means that I’ve often got what seems to be unconnected symptoms thus making people think I think I’ve got a million different illnesses that I don’t actually have.
I’m aware that this can be a very touchy topic because of the misunderstandings and often accusations. I mean no offense by this post, this is just my understanding of how it works. Hypochondria is characterised by a belief that you are sick with an illness and often that illness isn’t actually present, more often then not this belief is directed toward many illnesses but it can be directed toward just the one illness. Often someone who has hypochondria will not believe that they’re not sick, they won’t accept that the test results are negative/will ask that they’re done again. However it’s not as simple as everyone seems to think that it is, hypochondria is a serious mental illness and it comes with many of the same problems seen in other mental illnesses. The main similarity here is a lack of understanding from the basic community and even doctors, very few people can comprehend what it’s like for someone with hypochondria and in order to successfully help the person you need to at least give it your all to try.
Let’s attempt to see what it’s like to be a hypochondriac, this is of course easier said then done especially if you’ve never experienced any mental illness before. Think about a time when you where absolutely sure about something, say an answer on a test or solution to a difficult problem ect, but everyone else is telling you that you are wrong about this. This is similar on a much smaller level to what someone with hypochondria feels, to them every sneeze could be bird flu. The important thing to remember about people with hypochondria is that to them it is a very real possibility that their sneeze is bird flu, it is their own personal reality that they are very sick. The more often that people tell them they’re not sick the more it can cause a lot of hurt and damage to the person, they become frustrated because no one is validating the way they’re feeling. It’s pretty scary to think you’re dieing of some sort of awful illness and it’s even worse if people are dismissing you or labeling you a ‘crazy’.
Obviously medical tests will more often then not come back negative because often people with hypochondria are actually physically healthy (because they’re so scared that they’re sick) but because of the psychological stress associated with feeling sick, medical testing and being unable to find an answer to the illness they continue to feel very tried, irritable, weak and all the other symptoms associated with stress. It is very difficult to accept that you’ve got hypochondria or any other mental illness and it’s important that you support someone you know if they are currently seeing someone in order to help with their hypochondria. However I think the misunderstandings and the use of hypochondria as an insult/bullying tool doesn’t help those who do have it feel like they’re really people, plus at the end of the day someone with hypochondria is sick in a way and they should be treated with the same amount of respect you would treat anyone else who is sick with.
Always remember that to someone with hypochondria the sickness and the danger is real and you need to respect that in order to help, it might not be ‘real’ to you but it’s more then real for them.
This topic only comes up every now and again but each and every time it does I’m always passionate about it, there’s lots of issues that I feel passionate about so it’s impossible to remember each and every one (apparently I’ve got a lot of opinions lol) but I was recently reminded about this one.
I take anti-depressants every day in fact I take 350mg of Effexor-XR and it’s the third one that I’ve been on, it took some fiddling and that wasn’t really any fun but they do really help. I know that there are lots of doctors who will hand out psychological medications as if they’re lollies and I’m not advocating that people who don’t need medication take medication but I don’t think that taking a total view either way is a good thing either.
There’s a lot of natural medicines around which are also great, I personally use aromatherapy for all sorts of things from head aches to nausea to colds I would much rather use the natural essential oils then use a pain killer (especially given my rather bad history with painkillers, from OD to rare allergic reactions I’ve had my fair share of pain from them) however I’m not about to stop taking my anti-depressants because they’re chemicals.
Most who have suffered from a mental illness will tell you that once you do find the right medication they can help immensely, of course you get the people who don’t respond to medications at all or who have very bad side effects with little to no gain from many and that is the nature of any medication. You shouldn’t not try a medication just because there is a chance of a side effect, I get a dry mouth from mine but I also know that without them I’m not stable enough to make any real progress. Of course you should be careful with starting or stopping a medication especially the psych ones because some of them can and will have a pronounced withdrawal should you randomly stop taking them and for the first few days you can be a touch more emotional one way or the other (I was).
I really do believe that some medications are worth trying and yes they’re worth the risk of the rare reaction (which you should be aware of just in case, you want to stop before it really becomes a problem) after all I still try medications if they’re necessary as they occasionally are. To not try something that could make your quality of life better would be like not trying a new food because you could have a reaction from it. I know some medications are bad and the side effects are very nasty, I’m not saying they’re the ones to take on the contrary I avoid anti-anxiety’s and sedatives like the plague because I know they make me ‘zombie’ like which doesn’t help but I don’t shy away from other medication just because I could react to it.
Try to keep an open mind, if your doctor says you need psych medication don’t assume it’s the worst thing possible think about it in terms of how you’re currently doing and then decide if it’s the best thing for you. You might think that you’re stable enough to work on your problems without medication and that’s fine tell your doctor that but if you’re stuck in a hole/ditch and falling farther then maybe the medication will help you to stand on a ledge so that you can work at getting out, that is what I did and I’m so much better off for it.
I’ve recently just taken a big step and sent a complaint to the Mental Health Unit (a.k.a a modern asylum) that put me though hell back in early 09, now I don’t actually think anything can or will be done but it’s an important step for me because I’ve been afraid to do so for so long. See when I first filed a complaint/gave feedback the guy read it in front of me laughed and then ‘misplaced’ it so I was worried that the same would happen if I tried again. Where did this inspiration come from? Emilie Autumn’s new and only music video Fight Like A Girl (http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=dvOXuZwOEvM).
The video actually reminded me of my stay in this particular Unit which really was similar to a Victorian era Asylum, and while what happened during that say isn’t really what this post is about I’ll give you a quick run down of what happened to give the rest of the post context. I can’t actually remember how long I was there because my perception of time was (and still can be) very distorted but basically it was the second hospital I’d been to and it was the first public one I’d stayed at so my expectations where far, far too high. The staff tried to force me to eat meat (I’d been a long time vegetarian by this stage, still am), they prevented us from talking to each other, we had nothing to do bar play on a Nintendo Wii, they took away harmless but important things such as pens and paper as well as books, they refused to treat my head aches as per my GP’s instructions (I gave them my GP’s name, the clinic name where I see her and the phone number, they never rang her), there where several times where they threatened to hit me and others as well as threatening to lock us in solitary, they refused a diabetic boy food (he later collapsed), they bullied/mocked/breaded ect me and others, we where not allowed outside or to exercise (no running on the ward) and worst of all they offered no kind of treatment (talking about triggering topics where band, the logic behind this still escapes me to this day). In response to this I demanded that they give us basic rights, I demanded to be transferred to a privet hospital, I demanded they called my GP and let me take the proper medication for my head aches, I demanded they offer some sort of treatment (nothing happened) and what I’m most proud of I stirred the other patients up and encouraged a rebellion (we refused to go to be and then refused to get up again, security was called). I got told off many times for calling the doctors intelligence into question and for breaking the rules and getting others to tell me their stories (they finally felt so understood) and basically caused as much trouble as I could and tried to take over…I honestly think they let me leave cause I wasn’t worth the trouble. This leads to the rest of the post, why is it such a terrifying idea that the inmates run the asylum?
We’ve all heard of this situation and it’s been the plot of many movies (most of them horror) but I’ll never forget the really weird French movie I watched that was set in an asylum (SPOILER ALERT) which turns out that for most of the movie is actually run by the inmates and it’s the ‘doctors’ trapped in the cells down stairs, once the doctors get out again and our not so crazy main character finds out how the doctor has been ‘treating’ people it’s shocking to see the decline of the place. When the head fake doctor was running the place most of the people where acting ‘crazy’ in a relatively safe way, one guy is hitting his head against a post that holds in the building and tied to this post is a pillow…the said guy is subdued, silent and gently rocking forward to hit is head on the pillow. The face doctor explains that in order for a crazy person to recover they need to act out their crazy within a safe environment, whereas the real doctor believes that mental illness came from an imbalance between pain in the mind and pain in the body…increase the pain on the body and the crazy will stop. Now I don’t know about you, but to me it seems that the fake and crazy (he had delusions of Gander and a phobia of being buried alive) doctor actually had a much much better idea of how to treat these people then the real doctor. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying that the Criminally Insane or those who are violent should be allowed to roam free and run the joint but what I am saying is that most people with mental illnesses actually have a much better idea of how to deal with others who are mentally ill then those who haven’t experienced it.
When the inmates of the asylum are running it those inmates feel much safer, much more understood and much more at peace then they ever will with a tight laced environment run by doctors who more often then not can’t actually treat people on an individual level. Granted in the past the doctors have been much worse and when the inmates get out the first thing they do is take revenge/justice on said doctors, it’s a hypocritical assumption that is then made that the inmates have done this because they’re crazy when really all they’ve done is exactly what was done to them and/or others that they’ve known. Answer this, if the doctor was preforming barbaric experiments and ‘treatments’ and the inmates (a.k.a tortured people) escape then kill said doctor in the same way he’d experimented on them, who is really crazy? Keeping in mind that often these people would be trapped their for years knowing nothing but this cruelty and with mental illness comes a distortion of time that make’s it hard to remember what happened three months ago let alone what’s happened years ago. There’s a reason why so many people find themselves comfortable in an asylum it’s the first place they’ve been in where there are other people like them, they’re understood and they can see that it’s not so abnormal as they where lead to believe. For this reason I think that the best psychologists and psychiatrists are those who’ve had/have mental illness themselves or know someone closely who has mental illness…I often find in those horror movies that I sympathise and empathise with the inmates who are now running the asylum. The mentally ill are people too and often feel things deeper and stronger then your average non-mentally ill person and they should be treated as such, who knows that better then anyone else? Someone else with mental illness! I often find I’m far more at home with people who are mentally ill then those who’ve got no experience with it. So hell yeah! Let the inmates run the asylum and see the benefits!
Most people who know me will tell you that I love all animals and of course that means I’ve got many pets there’s actually more pets in the house then there is people. My dad and I live with two dogs, two guinea pigs and nine fish, to most people that seems rather insane but for us it’s a very good set up.
Many people believe pets are simply a luxury something to have around for the hell of it, but for others having pets in the house is like having another member of the family around. I suffer from various mental illnesses and I have attempted to take my own life so almost as a default my pets are far more to me then a luxury or even companionship they are the rock that holds me down, they give me a reason to live to get up every morning. Pets are not just for people with mental illnesses, pets also give you undieing loyalty and love when dad opens the door in the morning when he gets home from work the first thing that he sees is the dogs heads waiting for him.
It’s also been shown that having pets around young children can help to prevent allergies, it’s also been shown that they help to increase life expectancy as well as general health however if you’re not an animal person these are not good enough reasons to get a pet. What strikes me as the most remarkable power that pets have is the ability to calm and soothe any mood, if I’m upset cuddling a dog is a sure way to make me feel better and last night when I couldn’t sleep grabbing a guinea pig to cuddle soothed me enough to get at least some sort of sleep. All my pets have helped to open me to a whole world of emotions that I’d never experienced and I gained a new area of empathy as well as responsibility. Pets are everything to me, they’re part of my family and they’ve never hurt me in the way that other people have.
However the best thing that I’ve ever experienced wasn’t a pet rescuing me but adopting my guinea pigs and giving them a second chance. I’ve had one girl Nellie living with me for almost two years now(she’s roughly three) and when I first adopted her she was very shy and pretty nuts with a very submissive personality, but she bonded not only with me but with her friend Aphrodite(who died in early December). Over the first year I watched Nellie grow into a much stronger and bolder little piggie she’s still pretty crazy but her personality has really blossomed and watching that take place make’s the whole world look better. My heart breaking loss of Aphrodite was made all that much harder by the fact that Nellie really felt the loss as well, Nellie became really suspicious of me and she got quite depressed then started to fight with every piggie we tried to introduce her to. This experence opened me up to understanding how my dad feels whenever I’m suffering, because it was hard to watch Aphrodite suffer though lymphoma and so I’m now able to understand how my dad feels when I’m suffering with my illnesses. Through understanding animals behaviours and emotions you can learn to understand other peoples heaviours and emotions, our pets live with us and in the end they become like us to an extent(I know my pets are as nuts as I am).
I’ve talked about my lack of faith in the ‘positivity approach’ to things but I forgot to mention that when you accept the bad it doesn’t mean you have to be completely negative all the time in fact part of accepting the bad is accepting the good. After all without bad we wouldn’t know what good felt like(yes I know that’s very basic terminology), and I find it more effective to focus on the little wins we have rather then looking for one major one all the time.
This isn’t easy especially if you’ve spent most of your life over looking the small wins and it doesn’t happen over night(of course) but I can say it does make a difference even if it’s just for the few seconds in which you celebrate the win. It can also be seen as taking pleasure in the small things, which you may have already tried before but as I said it takes practice.
People around me get sick of the way that I pick out the small things that are little wins especially if it’s in the middle of some bigger loss, but it’s by constantly ignoring the small win that the bigger losses become your whole world.
For example Aphrodite, my guinea pig, had something wrong with her eye on Saturday evening and by then my vets where closed. Unfortunately it wasn’t until around midnight that I thought of Googling the local animal hospitals that have emergency and/or after hours services, most of them too where closed other then one that was 24 hours but $100 just for a consultation. So I monitored her for the next few hours and when her eye didn’t get any worse and didn’t seem to be causing major distress I decided I’d get up first thing in the morning and call the Lort Smith Animal Hospital. Thank god for me they had a vet who was happy to see a guinea pig and they could see her in a couple of hours, it turned out that the poor thing had poked her eye with hay(quite common) and ended up with an ulcer and mild conjunctivitis. This is all pretty sad but very treatable(one small win!), the vet gave her a pain killer injection(stoned piggie the rest of the day!) and some eye drops with the assurance that she would be better in 5 days. So it’s Sunday, an emergency, got an injection AND medication…I was dreading the bill even with my concession discount I was convinced I’d be over $120 AUD. The Lort Smith already gives as much discount as possible, so the full amount came it $108AUD but with my concession I only had to pay $90.08 AUD! I felt awful for poor Aphrodite who was in pain but I was completely excited by the cheapness of the bill and on a Sunday no less! This is a little win inside a loss/pain and if I didn’t stop to appreciate that it would have been a lot harder to cope with my empathy for my piggie, it’s also very good to know for the future in case of any other emergencies.
I like to practice this when watching TV shows and the like, I find it very useful especally when so much of y time is spend in pain, in fear of pain and/or avoiding pain. I think it’s helped me to generally feel a little bit happier each day.
I’m really hoping this works, I’ve just downloaded the WordPress app so I’m posting from my phone which hates me lol.
Anyhow, today I had a startling realisation with my psychitrast which has left me rather rattled. So in order to melt/disolve that stress and calm the rattles I took the time to pamper myself! I did the verious optional beauty things that I have a habit of neglecting. Now thanks to my body butter, massage bar and dusting powder a lot of that stress has melted away.
In the past I wouldn’t have done this, I was under the assumption that it was a shallow way of making myself feel better. The truth is that its not shallow at all. I’m not doing it to impress anyone and I’m not doing it because I feel the need to be perfect, I do it because when I have smooth soft skin I feel a little better about myself and a little more confordent.
So here is my tip, do whatever it is that makes you feel better(non destructive ways only) and try not to be too hard on yourself because it may look like something else to others. We all have stressful days and if your not hurting anyone do what you want to feel just that little bit better because some times its that tiny bit that makes a difference.
There is one thing that I think about fairly often, most people with depression and other mental illness have this unique ability to ‘forget’ the times when they’ve been in a more happy and positive mind set. I know I have this trouble in particular, even though I can see stuff in my own hand writing from when I’ve been in a good mind set I have trouble accepting that it’s my own thoughts I’m reading. However I think it’s important to write it down so that you can really experience the feelings, for me writing is how I stay in the ‘now’.
I came across these ideas when someone I loved dearly was leaving me and as far as I could tell he was leaving me over the fact that I’m always sick and mentally ill, this in particularly pisses me off I don’t like to be judged on the grounds of my illnesses be they physical or mental. I started to tell him why I was better then him, how the fact that I was sick all the time made me so much stronger then him because I face it day after day.
So this is what I’ve got to say to everyone who has been accused of being weak because they’re sick or those who feel they’re not as good as others because they struggle with this crushing pain day after day, others think that your mind is weak because it doesn’t work the same way that theirs does. Well you know what, you’re actually not weak, your very strong and this is why: Every day you face fear, pain loneliness and heartache that few people could ever understand. You do anything and everything that you can to survive and you might not know why but that’s not really important, what’s important is that you do it day after day even in the face of ridicule. People bully mostly out of fear and they fear anything/anyone that is different to them anything that they don’t understand and you’re better then them because you accept differences even if you don’t understand them. So try to remember when you’re feeling bad, because you can survive this pain and torment you’re so much stronger then people give you credit for.
Oh how psychology loves to wave this idea around and society for that matter but I’ve never really brought that and my approach to happiness is much different, one that isn’t well liked in the psychology scene. I’ve tried all the positivity approaches before, I’ve said the affirmations, posted the “you’re beautiful” signs all over the house and yet every single time I saw then I just felt worse. One of the most destructive events in my life happened even though I’d gone to said event with a positive out look…one that I stupidly believed. In the end I gave up on the fake positive crap, I stopped telling myself that it all gets better at some point and if I just make it though tonight I’ll be okay. I’ve said all along that my life wont get any better, that it will only get worse no matter what I do and even though I had that belief I still tried and every time I still fell on my ass. I’ve had some of the worst experiences people will ever have in their lives and I’m only just 19, wanna know what it’s like to be raped my someone you love? Or maybe you’d like to know what it’s like to have your mother abuse you for 16 years of your life? How about I tell you about what it’s like to have more or less no memory because your whole life is repressed? These things don’t even show you half of what I’ve seen/been though/done. So how did I get to the point where I don’t fall after each failure? After each glimmer of happiness is shredded in front of me again, for the 19th year in a row? Acceptance. It’s not easy, it doesn’t happen over night and it’s damn painful but what it does do is it helps. Once you know and accept that your life is going to get worse and there’s not a whole lot you can really do about it you can put aside the silly goals. I use to want to be normal, happy, just be like everyone else and I worked hard in order to make it happen and when it didn’t happen I felt another part of me die, the pain was unbearable. Don’t get me wrong, some people do actually have hope and yes everyone who’s ever been abused need’s to accept that their past will always shadow them but in some cases they can move past that especially if it’s only the one incident of abuse. One incident isn’t easier to get over or anything like that but it does give you more hope, if once you where happy and more or less normal you can get back to that stage….but for me there is no hope of normality and no hope of hanging up my boxing gloves I will always be sad and I will always be fighting something. I’ve now accepted that for as long as I live things are gonna be shit house, so how has this acceptance helped me? Well here comes the truth to all the crap positive people sprout, it gets easier. When you expect the very worst of something it’s some how never quite as bad as you fear and once you realise that the moments when something does go well wont last very long you seem to feel them to a much fuller extent. I do believe one thing to the ultimately true, for every action there an equal and opposite reaction. The opposite of extreme sadness is extreme happiness and if you try to find those happy moments you’ll see that they felt so happy it seems wrong, unrealistic and cruel, I had one of those days just two days ago. There’s a realiation I came to recently, I was reading Emilie Autumn’s The Asylum For Wayward Victorian Girls(which is very enlightening even when you’re already familiar with depression), Emilie Autumn mentioned that when something like depression hangs around long enough it becomes part of you and you end up being unable to think of functioning without it. Now this is something that I thought about for a while, looking at the fact that I’ve been depressed since I was 8(the earliest memory I have) and the truth, the awful shameful truth is that she’s right, without the depression I wouldn’t know who I am. I stopped and thought about what I’d actually do if I was happy, normal and it occurred to me that I wouldn’t even know how to begin, what do normal people do? How do you act when your happy? I wouldn’t have a clue. Stopping to think even further about what I’d like, what I’d be interested in and again I draw a blank, I honestly can’t say what I’d like or who I would be. Everything I’ve ever done for ‘fun’ hasn’t ever been about having ‘fun’ it’s been about coping and keeping me alive just that much longer so if I suddenly didn’t need to cope with the crushing hell that is my mental state what exactly would I do? You’d think this would kill every last drop of fight I have in me but you couple this with the idea that my life will never get better, it goes from being an awful reality to another element of me. I fight and fight for something better, that’s all I’ve done and since I don’t need to worry about not having anything to fight I don’t need to worry. So what kind of goals does someone with no hope keep? I know that I don’t need to try to survive because the truth is, I can, I’ve survive three suicide attempts one of which I was sure I wasn’t gonna come back from(oh how happy I was at the time, and much less happy when I woke up in Emergency). My goals are to help those who suffer as I do, to raise awareness about the pain and destruction mental illnesses can cause, to make a difference in the lives of those who can’t speak for themselves(animals) and live my life according to my own ethics and morals. Once you accept that what you’ve been fighting for isn’t going to happen you can direct your energies into something else, something you find to be worthwhile. For some people that could just be getting the truth out, making a difference, proving why you’re better then others ect but the truth is that it really doesn’t matter because as long as you’re doing what you feel is right for you, that’s all you can be expected to do. My approach to happiness is all about accepting the shit and using the energy that was being spent on fighting that shit on something that’s important to you. If you’re always fighting, fight for something worthwhile, if you crave action use those insanely good days to find that action and if you’re stuck deep down in a hole while being unable to get up again stop looking for a rope, use that energy to dig down because someone else will be down there. You don’t have to be positive to be happy, you don’t need to tell yourself things that feel like a lie in order to be comfortable with who you are the only thing you need is that moment of acceptance, of realisation and then so many things become open to you. Turn your hell into your sanctuary or become the ruler, only drown in that black lake when you want to not when some faulty chemicals tell you. The one piece of ‘positive crap’ I’ll leave you with is that no matter what you’ve been though, no matter how many people would tell you different, you arestrong simply because you survived it. You’ve been to hell and you came back,it doesn’t matter how you came back, those self-harm scars are not a sign of weakness they’re a sign of doing what you had to in order to get back from that hell and that, that is what makes you strong.(I’ll write a post on why you’re strong later on).
I accept and understand that there are people out there who are the complete opposite of me but are still good people. These people do things differently to me, they look at relationships differently and they have different views to me…some times I wont understand these views or the way that they do things/how they see things. Which for me is okay, I don’t have a problem with things like this I’m not gay but do I think that gay people should be allowed to get married and have kids? Hell yeah! Where is this going? you might be asking, well there is one kind of person who is different to me that I really do have a problem with and that is people who use fear in order to get people to believe what they believe, feel what they feel and do things the way they do them. Recently I came up against someone who is using these fear tactics in order to fight a just cause: abuse withing the causal relationship community. Now with all the abuse I’ve suffered in my life I’m all for fighting abuse, but I wont fight abuse and those who cover up abuse by scaring everyone into avoiding something because it could lead to abuse. I’ve also seen the good that the casual relationship community can do for people, which this person left out of their argument to shut down/stay away from the community, and this is the exception to the rule of abuse. I’m not saying that the abuser gets something ‘good’ out of it so they’re okay, I’m saying that some people ethically and openly say to someone “I’m looking for something causal, do you want to participate?” and the other open person saying “Sure thing.” shouldn’t be scared away from casual relationships on the chance that they will be abused. Warn people that these kind of interaction can be very damaging, and warn them it can lead to abuse but don’t hide from them that there’s also times where it’s okay to do something casual. Ensure they’re going to be ethical and that they’re aware of what could happen but don’t scare them into not trying at all. I am the person who speaks up for the exception to the rule, not the person who speaks for the rule. This concept will come up a lot in my posts, but I want to make it very clear that just because I’m speaking for an exception doesn’t mean I agree with a rule or that I’m encouraging the exception. I’m giving everyone their right to be the person that they want to be, to be different from me and to be able to do that no matter what I believe about said rule or exception. I wont stand for behavior that limits this equality and right, and I will say something.