Time to talk day 2017


Ways you can participate

  • Give someone you haven’t spoken to in a while a call / text. Sometimes people just need to know you’re there
  • Ask someone how their day was. Something as simple as this could make such a huge difference to someone’s day.
  • Perform a random act of kindness. Buy some chocolates to share with your friends / work colleagues, keep an eye out for ways you could lend a hand to the people around you
  • Share mental health stories on your social media, just liking and sharing posts and videos on your facebook / twitter can spread the word, you might share the very thing someone needed to see
  • If you suffer with a mental health issue, tell your truth. You never know who might be grateful to hear your words. (Websites like The Mighty allow you to become s contributor and share your stories with the community) Or start a blog, write a honest facebook post, or just text a trusted friend and tell them how you’re feeling. You never know who might have needed to hear what you have to say.

What are you doing for Time To Talk day 2017?

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The importance of Mental Health in YA fiction.

This post originally appeared on my book blog bookw0rmtales.

I haven’t posted in a while, that’s true. And my previous posts have been squealy fangirling book reviews.

I don’t want to stop my joyful rambling about books and I won’t. But there are other things I need and want to talk about.

1 in 10 children and young people aged 5 – 16 suffer from a diagnosable mental health disorder – that is around three children in every class (1).

Between 1 in every 12 and 1 in 15 children and young people deliberately self-harm (2).

There has been a big increase in the number of young people being admitted to hospital because of self harm. Over the last ten years this figure has increased by 68% (3).

More than half of all adults with mental health problems were diagnosed in childhood. Less than half were treated appropriately at the time (4).

A lot of us here in the blogosphere call for more diversity in YA fiction, tired of the unnaturally beautiful white girl who has everything together. And we have come so far. In my time I’m seen huge twitter conversations and hundreds of blog posts from bloggers and authors alike saying what they want to see and what changes they’re going to make. And we’re getting there, slowly but surely we as readers are starting to see our own selves, messy and imperfect, refelected back at us from the books we are reading.

But why is it important to talk about mental health?

Because mental health issues so often begin in childhood and when we are young adults. Because we need to remove the stigma and the fear surrounding mental health, so that those young people aren’t afraid to speak out about their problems.

We need to educate the ignorant. To teach people, young or old, that anyone can face a mental health crisis, at any age. To show people, through stories, that it’s not just ‘a phase’ or puberty, that depression, anxiety, eating disorders, psychosis and all the rest do not discriminate.

Young people in a survey conducted by time to change reported stigma coming from those around them: 70% had had negative reactions from friends, over half (57%) from parents and 45% from boyfriends and girlfriends.

The professionals that young people come into contact with were also reported as a source of stigma and discrimination: 40% said that they had experienced negative reactions from teachers and 47% from doctors and other medical professionals.

Our attitudes and beliefs are largely formed when we are young and are influenced by a ton of factors; what we are taught in school, by family members and books we read to name a few. That’s not to say we can’t change our beliefs as we grow, because we constantly do. However if the kids in your class make jokes about ‘crazy’ people or the news you see blames atrocities on a persons mental health and you never see positive portrayals of ordinary people with mental health issues then how are you supposed to understand what you or someone else is going through and to react in a healthy, positive way?

It’s important to represent real people in literature.

…and in all media. Showing that women can be powerful and strong; that men can show their emotions without being ‘weak’ and that people with mental health problems are just ordinary people who need our compassion not our ignorance. (I could go on…)

Seeing ourselves and honest representations in the media help people feel accepted and give them back that sense of I’m normal. This gives them back much needed confidence to open conversations and seek help.

I asked some friends why they think it’s important and this is what they said;

Characters can sometimesi be more relatable than real humans, I think its a starting point for the discussion for mental health –Hannah

“I just think it’s another good way to get people talking about mental health. To have realistic representations in creative works helps to de-stigmatise mental illnesses. Also, for me, it was a way of feeling like I wasn’t alone – Girl, Interrupted, although a memoir, was a very powerful read for me, it was upsetting for me as I’d been diagnosed with BPD, but it resonated with me deeply.” –Sophie

I think it’s important if done in a way that isn’t likely to add to the stigma. I’ve just read the gift and sisters both by louise jenson. In both books the characters suffer from anxiety, and it often describes their panic attacks. To me (as a severe sufferer) this is a good thing, as it might help people understand what happens to someone having an attack.

However I also think mental health in books can be bad, as it’s often used as a reason why a character is the way they are, in a bad way. In that case I think it adds to the stigma that anyone who suffers from mental illness are a crazed axe welding maniac. I understand it’s all to make a good story and it won’t necessarily be at the forefront of a readers mind, but I can’t help thinking that it might put that thought about mental illness into someone’s sub conscious. –Laura Caunce 

What books are already out there?

Buzzfeed did a post on the 29 Best YA Books About Mental Health

I’m going to make it my mission to pay abit more attention to wether books are portraying mental health issues and if they are, are they doing it well? 

Let me know your thoughts and please do throw any recommendations my way (good or bad examples!) xxx

Am I depressed or am I just a woman?

Having a mental illness is hard, no matter who you are.
Struggling with a mental illness as a man is hard, those stereotypes working against you.
But I’m a woman. And being a woman with Anxiety and Depression is hard, and that’s what I want to talk about now.
I don’t feel like a real woman.

Because women should smile.

So says the stranger in the street. “Smile baby!” he calls. So says the co-worker on their way past, “Chin up, might never happen” they remark without eye contact or so much as a pause.

Because women shouldn’t have loud emotions.

I should be quiet and demure. Smile sweetly and discuss grievances calmly and reasonably, or better yet, not at all. I can’t scream ‘stuff you’ at the man in the street or snap that I’m having a bad day. Not without shocked faces and the inevitable remarks about my ‘time of the month’.

I can’t ‘overreact’, as you say, to the anxiety fuelled worries filling my head or burst into tears for the smallest of reasons. Because sure, I can’t ever calm my racing thoughts and some days I don’t want to be alive and everything is so unbelievably hard, but remember, I’m just another ‘crazy girlfriend’ overreacting and ‘girls are crazy and over emotional, they’re from another planet so don’t even try to understand it.’.

I can’t refuse a night out with friends, because I’m a ‘flake’ and ‘she always does this’. I’m not acting how I should be! But I couldn’t giggle right now to save my life, so I’m dull. I couldn’t bring my self to socialise if I tried and I can’t drink because it makes me depressed and more likely to hurt myself, so I’m a bore. It’s not that I think I’m too good to hang out with you, like you whispered behind my back, I just need to go home and sleep so I don’t feel this ache anymore. 

Because women should be beautiful and ‘frowning will give you wrinkles’. 

Because whether I show my emotions or not it’s explained away by the time of the month or my inherent ‘female-ness’. 

Because I’m afraid to be loud and unapologetic with my emotions so I bottle them up and hide myself away, and I’m judged even for doing that.
I don’t feel like a real woman and then I feel like a waking stereotype and all I want is to feel like myself again. I am more than my gender and I am more than my depression.
I am me.

Not good enough, never good enough 

Here I am again. 

Back into my head seeps every ounce of negativity that can possibly fit.

Don’t feel good enough 

Not a good enough friend, not a good enough sister, girlfriend, co-worker. Not pretty enough, lazy, boring, annoying, desperate and needy, lazy lazy stupid and useless. 

Don’t understand what my boyfriend sees in me, yet don’t understand why my colleagues hate me, don’t understand why I can’t be the person I want to be. Why would anyone want to waste their time with me when there are all these other people, beautiful and confident, funny and adventurous. More than me, better than me. I’m lazy and insecure and all I do is complain, why can’t i do something to change it? Why do I always end up stuck in this spiral of self-disgust? These insecurities of mine will just end up pushing everyone away and then that’ll only serve to confirm them. Self fulfilling prophecy. I’m doing this to myself, its no ones fault but my own, can’t do anything right. Ah there and back to the derogatory self talk. Can’t fucking win.  

Just fucking do something about it! Stop fucking complaining all the time, fucking ungrateful. Just lazy, looking for pity or something? I don’t want pity I just want to be content with myself. Not to fucking hate myself so damn much. How do I change it? Just fucking tell me how. Stupid annoying lazy tramp. Not even fucking pretty. What’s the point, why should people waste their time. Not attractive, not even slightly sexy. Bad friend bad sister. Just all round shit. 

You gonna use the depression as an excuse? Making excuses isn’t going to make anything better. It’s your fault and no one else’s. It’s just so fucking hard. I can’t socialise so I look boring or rude or like a bad friend. I just want to hide away in bed, sleep so I don’t have this fucking broken record of shit self hating shit playing over and fucking over in my head.

You’ve been a terrible friend, your boyfriend left you, you’re a shit sister and your work colleagues hate you, you can’t even impress your boyfriends family, they probably all think you’re shit too. Does he deserve better? Am I being selfish keeping him? He should have some older more confident girl, with a career and tall and beautiful, who charms his family and is so funny and sexy he never needs to look at anyone else. 

I can’t help my brother and I’m never there for my sister. I never make the effort for my friend. My colleagues find me boring, cause they like to dress up and get drunk and gossip, and I just can’t do it. They won’t speak to me and probably talk about me behind my back. I love my boyfriend but I don’t know if I can ever be enough for him.

I’m ruining everything good in my life with all these thoughts but I can’t stop them, they’re all true how could they not be? 

Someone tell me how to find my happiness cause I’m reaching the end of my tether and I don’t know what to do.

The worst weekend

I just need to type this out, purge it rant anythjng, so apologies in advance.

I don’t self harm all the time. And I hadnt for ages. But when things get really bad I justdon’t know how else to cope.
I was hospitalised just over a year ago after taking an overdose. Things were pretty bad for a while. Then they got marginally better. I met this guy and we started dating, he was so nice and made me laugh when I never thought I would again. It was good having a distraction. Things were still bad but I felt like there was hope. I eventually told him about my struggles and he was ok with them. It felt nice to finally have someone know about it all and still want to spend time with me, like maybe I wasn’t completely worthless. And it was great. We dated for nearly 18months. I still had ups and downs but I was feeling ok about that part of my life.

Then last weekend I had a bad spell and he was out so I didn’t want to call him. Anyway it was really bad and I ended up cutting myself just to relieve some of the pressure. I did it on my arms where j don’t usually as there’s more of a risk of people seeing. But I wasn’t thinking straight and I needed that release right then.

Anyway, when he came round we had a really lovely day but on the evening my jumper slipped down my arm and he must have saw the cuts. He just sort of clammed up and wouldn’t speak to me or look at me. He avoided me the rest of the evening, quite a feat in my tiny studio flat. Wouldn’t be near me or get into bed until I was already asleep. Then in the morning he was still off with me but still hadn’t said why, but as he was leaving he got really weird and I asked him again what was wrong and he just looked at me and said what have you done to your arms. I didn’t know what to say and I just sort of dropped. He asked if I still did that to myself and if it was because of him. I told him I didn’t usually and of course it wasn’t. He asked why, and I just said it helped. He started crying and just left. 

He text me saying he wasn’t comfortable knowing I still do that and that he was really worried about me and panicking about what else I might do. I apologised again and again and said I never wanted to hurt him and it was just my way of coping, and I knew it was a maladaptive coping strategy but I just didn’t know what else to do.

Then on Monday he text me saying he thought it was time we called it a day and that he was sorry. I told him it was ok and I had kind of expected that reaction. Then he didn’t text me again.

It’s so hard. The guilt at having caused him that much worry and pain. The shame that always comes with the self harm. The pain that is normal with a breakup on top of the pain of being rejected because j did something I never wanted to and sometimes feel like a can’t control. It was complete rejection and it hurts so much.

I totally understand that it’s not his fault and some people just can’t deal with it. I don’t want him to stay if it’s making him unhappy and j can’t and wouldn’t expect him to try to deal with something he isn’t equipped to deal with emotionally. I know how hard it must be for him. But that doesn’t stop me feeling so utterly alone and like I’ve done something terrible and I’m a horrible weak person. 

I know all the platitudes, the ‘you are worth it’ and ‘things can get better’ and ‘it’s not you it’s the illness’, but they sound so empty and pointless. Maybe they’re all true. But I still can’t cope, and I still hurt him, and he still left me alone to deal with it. And that all hurts. And I don’t know what to do.

Of course on the Wednesday I had a funeral and then I had two days in London for a mental health first aider course which was great but triggering to say the least. 

He’s coming round tomorrow to get his stuff. 

So all in all maybe ‘worst week ever’ might have been a better title.

Sit at the table across from the horrors of the world 

As I sit on the cold ground in the early hours of this morning I write this. Cried out and wrung out from feeling unloved, or not unloved but merely not loved enough. Which sounds ungrateful and bitter but honest.
Maybe I love too much that when it’s not returned as fiercely I feel cheated, or maybe I just am not worthy of the love I want. Maybe the love I want just doesn’t exist.

I read this article just, after wallowing in my own waterfall thoughts. And it seems to confirm all I struggle with. I want to believe that humans are good at heart, with just misguided desires and distractions taking away our compassion. But sometimes I just can’t hold onto that belief. Are we just a race of greedy, selfish uncaring people? So overtaken by our need for power and money that we form prejudices against those who might threaten that? 

Sometimes I think I’m too weak to live in this world, too weak to sit down at the table with our most awful horrors. Thousands upon thousand die because of our greed and selfishness. And though it never directly effects me, it scorches my soul. I feel dirty and selfish for trying to carve out my own piece of happiness and for crying over not being loved enough when I have everything so many never will. 

Am I a good person? I wish to be. But I am weak and sad. I feel alone when I am not and unhappy when I have all that should bring me joy. 

I do not think I have the strength to live in this world sometimes.

I hold onto the quote, 

Be soft. Do not let the world make you bitter. Take pride in the fact that, though many disagree, you still believe the world to be a beautiful place.

That is not the original quote but, being where I am not I do not have access or the will to go and access the true version.

Be kind child, always be kind.

Completely exhausting, head spinning, nausea inducing, rollercoaster life

I swear I’m losing it. 

Here I am slogging through this thing I call my life, fighting with my ever constant apathy, when out of nowhere..

BAM

Good mood.

Not just a good mood, never that simple. A deliriously determined hopeful mood. A right I’m gonna sort my shit out change my life my style get a hobby and crawl out this damn hole mood. Que spending excessive amounts of money on new clothes, making grand plans for what I’m going to do next with my life and pledging to become the kind of girl people feel privileged to know. 

A few days later…

Mood drops. 

Feel like utter failure at everything ever, everyone hates me, why do I even try? All the grand plans look insanely unreachable, the clothes made for someone sexier and with way more confidence and who the hell would want to spend time with me anyway? 

And this is where I crash. The distance I’ve fallen from that hopeful giddiness to this complete despair is too far. Too much of a drop too fast. Exacerbates the feelings of worthlessness and depressive agitation to a whole new level until I’m curled on the floor shaking and crying and struggling to breathe and hating myself so much. 

Where do I go from here? What do I do now? I feel scared and adrift and alone. 

I hate this.