Category Archives: mental illness

Hypochondria

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.

Bullying **Trigger Warning**

I refer to ‘bullying’ as the general, so any type of bullying(cyber bullying, emotional, physical ect.) is included in the term because at the end of the day bullying boils down to two ‘institutions’: school and home (in the work place I consider it less bullying and more harassment, but that’s my personal semantics sorry if anyone feels left out or dismissed that’s not my intention).
I’ll start with school first because it’s always my favorite thing to “out” so to speak (I’m still sad I didn’t know they had demolished my primary school, I wanted to dance on it’s grave but there’s already flats on it). I’m going to do something that I generally don’t like to do and grossly over genrealise for a second, most socially related mental illnesses(social anxiety, paranoia, fear of people ect.) develop as a direct result of schooling or home and I’d say that school is the single most damaging intuition of any persons life, ever. Yeah we had asylums and prisons where people where experimented on ect. but now days we’re against that kind of thing (in theory) but schools still are still everywhere! And still shattering people into thousands of pieces every year. Yes, yes I know that we need to be educated and even though my primary school fucked up my life (and me in general) I know that I’d be nowhere without my education and I’m thankful for that, however it’s broken. Stop and think for a second, how many things where you scared of because of school? Do you remember a kid that was always picked on? Did you do something that you’re really not proud of? How does this make you feel? Damaged, point made. I’d go into details of how my schooling fucked me up, but I can’t cause it’s all repressed but I do remember enough fragments from those days to know the main problems with all this optimistic stop bullying crap that people are spouting.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to stop bullying it’s life crushing, what I object to is the way that people are going about it. The main problems with school related bullying (again both cyber and in the playground) is that parents of the bully either don’t want to admit/accept that their child is a bully and/or they’ll make up a million and one excuses for their child. Now because the school wants to keep in business (oh geeze business approach to schools and problems? who’d have thought!) if they meet too much resistance from a parent they will cave in, this highlights a new problem the school’s attitude. In a public school a lot of the teachers don’t really care about bullying (this I do remember, I had this experience a couple of years a go) or they over look it and privet schools? Well they do the worse thing (in my opinion), they will actually hush up the bullying incidents to protect their reputation (again experienced this recently, in 2009 in fact). Schools have to start admitting that bullying is happening, they have to stop caving in when powerful parents are behind the bullying child and they need to start thinking with a humanitarian brain rather then a business one!
This next element to school bullying is one of my favorites to talk about face-to-face with people because so many people are in the dark regarding this. Teachers bully too! That’s right my optimistic friends (how the hell did you end up here?) teachers will bully as well as other kids. I’ve fallen victim to this a few , the first time not a whole lot was done because (true story!) the principal blackmailed my parents (so I’m told), the second time this happened I didn’t bother telling anyone and just put up with this teacher belittling me, third time I walked out of class and didn’t go back (which wasn’t good for my exam result) and the forth time I actually spoke to another teacher who was higher up then the offending teacher and it actually got fixed! (This is a GREAT step in the right direction, it was also this year.) I remember one of the nicest things someone said to me was that they felt sorry for me because of the way that the teacher was treating me and the person who said it wasn’t really a friend either. The third time it happened I actually told someone, thinking that things might be better so many years later, well no they’re not! All the students in this teachers classes where scared of her and so no one would speak up with me, so the teacher lied about what happened and I wasn’t believed…I was having a hard enough time at this point so I said that I wasn’t going to her class again, and I didn’t. Society has said that bullying is unacceptable but it’s not actually walking the talk there is no teeth to what they say, constantly I hear people saying “Should he have been punished that harshly? He comes from a bad home after all.” and things to similar effect. Well guess what people? Yes he does deserve to be punished that harshly! Society runs around telling people that it’s okay to do awful things to others if you come from a bad home, or if you’ve had a hard life or got ADHD or whatever other anti-social personality to want to come up with…and this kind of bull is COUNTER productive! At the end of the day all this kid is learning is that it’s okay to fuck up someone else life if yours is already fucked up. Having a hard life, or an illness is NO excuse to bully others, I know the kid that made my life hell in primary school used the excuse that he had ADHD and the school accepted that. Well because he had ADHD I now have depression, OCD, paranoia, a fear of men and a repressed childhood…what in that is okay? By this :logic” I should then be able to go bully the next random person I meet, what makes me so much better then him and every other person that’s bullied me is that I wont do that.
Tougher rules and laws need to be set up in regards to bullying before it’s going to stop, society needs to accept the ugly truths in bullying and everyone needs to stop rolling over for excuses or because powerful parents threaten the school. I don’t care if your mother is laying in hospital half brain dead, you don’t get to take it out on anyone else and you don’t get to make someone else feel like crap just because you do. I could go on now to talk about bullying/abuse within the family/home but I think I’ll leave that for another post.

Mental Illness and Medication

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.

 

The Inmates Are Running The Asylum! **Mature Content**

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!

You Are Strong!

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.

Positvity Is The Way To Happiness **Trigger warning**

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).

A Note To Remember

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.

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