Monday, May 28, 2012

Today! The Mental Health Carnival

"After all this has passed I still will remain. 

After I've cried my last, 

There'll be beauty from pain."


(But thank you to beautyfrompainblog for the inspiration 

and sorry for "borrowing it..)

Do you know that 1 in 4 of us will experience mental illness in any given year: that's 25% of the UK population, so why, oh why! does such a stigma exist?  Carol from Dance without Sleeping is trying to spread awareness of mental illness, encouraging us to speak openly about our experiences, sharing our stories with those who are oblivious to the plight of those living with mental illness.  As I said previously in my call for posts "Mental illness is common, we are not alone, but we need to speak out, not just for ourselves but for those who will follow in our footsteps.  We need to remind ourselves – and others, too - that hope and help exists."  Today's Carnival is part of a bigger Mental Health Carnival hosted monthly by other bloggers to help spread awareness, I hope that this round up of great posts helps. 

Susan is a wearer of many hats and a mighty fine writer ; in writing her post "My Journey So Far" about post-natal depression, she took a huge step forward in sharing something so raw and personal but she knew that it was with the purpose of spreading awareness, hoping that she might be able to help someone else in a similar position.  In reading her post, I was struck by her honesty:  "I knew something was wrong but it took me a while to admit it" - as I see it, admitting that there is a problem isn't that easy; you need to know that there is a problem in the first place, you need an element of insight which is more often than not lacking in those with mental health problems.  Susan was fortunate to realise that something was wrong, "I felt like the world was bearing down on me. I didn’t feel like I was bonding with my baby. I felt I wasn’t me" and she asked for help which is very brave indeed.  Susan moved forward, happier days were forecast and acceptance part of her healing "I’m just me and this is who I am. I have a past, a present and a future."  

Claire is a mummy of three and her eldest has Aspergers hence the title of her blog A Boy with Aspergers.  Claire has also another mighty fine writer and an absolute inspiration.  She is a woman after my own heart, writing openly and honestly about life with a child with special needs, choosing her attitude to her "normal".  In her post "I don't feel like me anymore"  she demonstrates insight - "I’ve been one before and I don’t want to go there again.  But the signs are all there, not answering the telephone when it rings, lying on the floor when the door bell rings, crying over jeremy kyle when I’m normally peeing my pants laughing at that show." and she knows herself - she knows that medication isn't the answer this time, but instead a bit of "me time" - "I’ll stay at the hotel du vin, relax in a roll top bath, eat chocolate till I’m sick and watch soppy movies in a large king size bed!".  Sometimes it's the simplest of pleasures that can lift our mood; what lifts your mood?

Julie-Ann aka supermummy submitted a post "Where does it hurt?" on her experience of living with a mum with depression.  It's a very open post, from the perspective of a teenager caught up in her own world, exploring the regret that she feels now at not understanding her mum's mental illness.  "I couldn't understand what she was frightened of, what rendered her unable to face not the world, but her friends and family who loved her dearly. I couldn't understand what she was unable to cope with."   I don't know if we can ever really understand what someone with a mental illness is going through or feeling, but we can be there to support them and love them.    I think that the take home message from her post is this "Back then I vowed never to allow such a ravaging illness to take over my life. There goes my naivety all over again. I may not have a choice. There is no blueprint for who is susceptible".  "There is no blueprint for who is susceptible"; 1 in 4 of us will be affected this year - it could be you...

A new blog to me - and I'm glad to have been introduced to the fine fellow Scottish blogger Amanda - is  the beautyfrompainblog.  Her honest blog is written with the hope of being able to help: "I realised a while back that I could focus on making good things come out of what I had been through. That it will perhaps make it all worthwhile then. That it all perhaps happened for a reason, and that reason was so that others can benefit from them. I can make that the reason."  From the deepest of depression and suicide attempts she chooses to spread awareness and this last week she has done so with the purpose of  celebrating those 1 in 4  of us who suffer from mental illness - "To all those who live with mental health problems, I want to make you aware of how pretty damn awesome you are!"  And she is so right, we often undervalue ourselves: often with poor esteem and confidence, we don't realise that we are enough, just as we are we deserve to be praised.  Please go and read this blog, join her on the rollercoaster of living with depression, aiming for more ticks and good days and enjoy one of my favourite songs ever...  

Do you think that it's ok not to be ok?  Do you think that it's ok to admit defeat?  Definitely!  It's just about learning that that is the case; that asking for help is a sign of strength rather than weakness...  Since starting blogging, I 've had the pleasure of "meeting" some rather awesome women; these inspirational ladies have been there through some highs and lows of life, offering support and, at times, a life line.  Katie is one of these women and a lady I hope to meet one day.  She writes with great strength and has quite a poetic flare, sharing her story of life with a gene team superhero and a ginger cat - I cannot recommend this blog to you enough - please do go and have a read!  In her post "What is Brave?" she explores bravery in the context of living with a child with special needs - I am sure that people will often say that she is brave, but I get the feeling that that's not quite how she feels in reality.  "Is brave simply accepting your hand and plodding on, putting one foot in front of the other smiling and nodding in the right places knowing that by just keeping going helps keep your monsters locked in your chest?".  It's ok not to be ok...

And now to another Claire - this one is an OT with an interest in Mental Health and Social Media and how the two can interact leading to an improvement in wellness and health.  A line in her profile grabbed my attention, "I believe that we all hold the potential for Recovery- let's grow together.", reiterating to me that we can help ourselves and others by destigmatising mental illness. In Claire's post  she asks what a "recovery hub" - a place or resource to go to for support and help - might look like and there are some great replies.  Have you ever thought about what might have helped you towards recovery?  What resources were available to you?  How would you change the "service" received by those living with mental illness?

The stigma of mental illness is discussed here by Mark Brown the editor of One in Four Magazine"I think that probably the strongest way to dispel stigma is to be a person with mental health difficulties just getting on with being a person doing stuff. I think that when you are what you find is that the world isn’t divided into stigmatising people and non-stigmatising people or stigmatising institutions and non-stigmatising institutions. What you see is certain stigmatising ideas that need to be countered, certain prejudiced institutions or discriminatory ideas that can be changed and certain situations, people or things that carry a prejudiced message or discriminatory message or a prejudiced or discriminatory understanding."  So, in summary, just be you, be open, share your story and end the stigma...

And to finish today, it's back to the lovely, red-lipstick wearing Carol from Dance Without Sleeping;  she took one of my prompts and posted on the song that got her through her dark time: "I use music to help me through the tough times, I like having something to escape into and find that music helps sooth my soul. I often find it hard to explain how I am feeling, especially while I am inside the darkness."  Words, whether in the form of lyrics or poems or quotes have the power to let us know that we are not alone; that someone, somewhere has felt the same and survived; that there is hope; that there is inspiration to be had; that we can survive and just be.  I love her choice of song, what would yours be?

And if you are still here, my story can be found here.  

And now, the Carnival is over and in true Olympic Torch relay manner, I pass the torch onto Mrs Teepot who is holding the next Carnival on 25th June.


Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for including me, and for using the beautyfrompain lyrics :) xxx

h0peful mummy said...

@beautyfrompain, it was an honour to include you and i'll be reading more from you as a result x