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depression

Mental Health: Don’t bother telling me your door is always open

Posted on 6th May 2017 in #guestpost/ charity/ depression/ Mental Health

A lovely lady I know online recently posted the words below on Facebook and has kindly given me permission to share them.

She makes such a valid point, so incredibly well, I’ve always found the ‘type the colour of your underwear on your status for breast cancer awareness/share this heart for breast cancer’ posts quite infuriating. Surely sharing signs to look out for or advice for supporting a friend/loved one would be much more use.

The same applies to the recent flurry of posts stating that your door is always open and people can just pick up the phone – anyone who has ever suffered would know that is the very last thing you would be able/willing to do.

Anyway, Abi puts it beautifully:

“Do you know the problem with all this talk about mental health? I don’t want to talk about it. I don’t want a hug. I don’t want cup of tea and someone to tell me it will all get better. What I want is to hide under the duvet and cry until I have no more tears. If you think the answer is to post that you are always listening it won’t help. I know you mean well but I’d never send you a Facebook message to say I’m losing my grip and I’m good at faking it.

To the person who stepped in front of a train, took an overdose, slit their wrists, hung themselves, all I want to say is I understand and I’m sorry we lost you. Sometimes what people need most is space and understanding, a cave we can run away to occasionally and not be questioned.

So yes let’s talk about mental health but don’t ever expect someone suffering from severe depression to come to you when they need you. I don’t have the answer, the only suggestion I have is that we stop communicating through technology and start using our eyes. When that friend makes excuses and can’t come out, ask them if they would like you to come over. When someone you love shouts and pushes you away, give them space, but do ask what’s wrong and if you can help. When you pass a stranger on the street, smile and say hello, you may be the only person they speak to all day and it may break their thoughts and help them smile.

Sometimes it’s the silence that gives us away. I won’t ever tell you what goes through my mind but you can help distract me and that goes a long way. I’m just trying to stay in control so don’t push me. Just reach out and touch someone the edge is closer than you think.

Speaking as someone who has lost 2 dads to suicide and having attempted myself I can tell you that it’s release that we need. To stop the nightmares, the paranoia and the overwhelming fear of failure. It really doesn’t matter how real those things are. They are in our mind. So don’t tell me it will get better or that I’m loved, I know that but when?

Do you know my biggest fear? That my girls think it’s an acceptable choice. That one day they may contemplate the same. I really don’t think I could survive that so I will always watch and love them.

PS if you post that you are stuck in traffic or the train is delayed because some “idiot” has decided to end their life, I will unfriend you. They didn’t get there lightly and they won’t bother you again. You will get home and your life will go on so shut the f*ck up. They will be gone forever and the only thing that will follow is devastation but don’t worry that won’t affect you just their family and friends.

Thank you all for all of your support.”

 

One last thing from me. Did you know you can email the Samaritans? It IS hard to pick up the phone sometimes, but even the act of writing your fears, worries, feelings, in an email can help to lift the burden. The Samaritans will email you back, doesn’t matter if your worry is trivial – if it is important to you, it is important to them.

Contact Samaritans

Separated Reflections

Posted on 29th October 2016 in children/ custody/ debt/ debts/ depression/ divorce/ ex-husband/ family/ money/ only dads/ onlydads

OnlyDadsI’ve been asked to reflect upon the experience of separation, how I handled it and if – upon reflection – I would have done things differently. The whole concept here is along a theme of ‘putting the children first’.

The questions are:

1. What did you do well?

2. What didn’t you do quite so well?

3. If you were to give one piece of advice to a parent going through separation what would it be?

4. How have the decisions you made then affected the life you are living today?

I’ve pondered this for a while. It isn’t an easy thing to look back on, and I wanted to be sure that my answers were honest and that I would only go ahead with the post if I felt it could be useful to someone else.

Here’s the thing, when I found myself in this position (out of the blue), I would have been desperate to read this kind of thing, there was literally nothing around at that point to tell me what to do, how to feel, what to think. And although, obviously no one can do any of those things for you, sometimes when you can feel the floor falling away from under you, you just need something, some shred of evidence that someone else has been through this and that they got through it ok.

So, my answers are:

1. What did you do well? Not much I don’t think. I wasn’t in control of my thoughts and so I floundered for a long while, taking advice from people who were ill-equipped to help. I did my level best to put the children first, in terms of caring for them, loving them, trying to retain some normality (some context: the house was being repossessed, my partner of 10 years had run off with someone he’d known for 2 weeks, I uncovered huge amounts of debt, my parter decided he needed to put his new relationship first, i.e. before the children). So retaining normality was hard, I was an emotional wreck with very little (almost zero) support but I tried to keep up with bedtime stories, walks, collecting leaves, play dates (while I sobbed in a supportive friend’s kitchen), and, I tried to facilitate my ex seeing the children. He would make plans, then cancel at the last minute, but I would still allow for new plans the following week and explain to my confused babies as best I could.

Actually, a better answer to question 1 would be:

It isn’t about you. It isn’t about your bruised emotions, your confusion, your pride or your finances, it is about the children. The innocents who need to be protected from as much of the impact as possible.

2. What didn’t you do quite so well? This little question is deceptively hard. I think I’ve touched upon a few things above so I am going to say that I should have sought better legal advice. I had a trainee solicitor who essentially told me I was screwed. She was no help to me emotionally or practically and as such I lost my home, my children lost their home and many possessions and I ended up responsible for a huge amount of debt. I don’t think I’ve heard of many other people who were dealt such a poor hand in this situation.

3. If you were to give one piece of advice to a parent going through separation what would it be? Time is a healer. Have faith that your personal wounds will heal and that the best thing you can do is invest time (not money/gifts etc) but time with your children. Make them feel loved and secured. If your ex is willing to have regular contact with the children, let them! Do not get caught up with petty arguments, point scoring and playing the blame game, let them feel loved by the two people who should love them.

4. How have the decisions you made then affected the life you are living today? I have a great life now but that is no reflection upon things at that time. If I go back say 6 months after he left, it is a very different picture. Then I was homeless, in debt, with very little support, even from the ‘system’. I was offered a, frankly, terrifying B&B (one room for all 3 of us, sharing a bathroom with strangers, you cannot be in the B&B during the day), which was in a completely different town to our old home, the children’s school and friends. At this point I literally couldn’t afford tea bags and toilet roll.

Now, the children don’t hear from him, he hasn’t seen them for at least 6 years (and the last time was for an hour even though he was meant to have been having them overnight). I still find that I beat myself up about the fact they don’t have a relationship with him – which is the main reason it has taken me so long to respond to the request to answer these darn questions!). I have to remind myself that it isn’t my fault he doesn’t see them, I have to remind myself that no matter how reasonably one person acts, no matter how easy they make it for another person to do the right thing, it doesn’t mean that they will. I am not responsible for his lack of responsibility.

One final piece of advice. When I was going through a particularly testing time, I decided that I needed some independent advice. Initially I went online thinking I was looking for a mums support group, or Homestart or Gingerbread, but I soon came to the conclusion that I needed to hear from a MAN. Someone who would be guaranteed not to be biased to my viewpoint, and that (along with being the reason why I am answering these questions) is how I ended up contacting OnlyDads and subsequently received some reasoned, grounded and sensible support from a man called Bob.

 

Where Is The Help? #WMHD2015 #MentalHealth

Posted on 10th October 2015 in child/ child abuse/ childline/ children/ depression/ family/ swearing

Screen Shot 2015-10-10 at 14.08.55It’s impressive to see so much focus on mental health today as part of #WMHD2015, how we can help others and how we can help ourselves.

I have seen several posts online from famous people in support of this day and the message behind it, which is an important step towards ending the stigma and shame that so often goes hand in hand with the words ‘depression’ and ‘mental health issue’.

But where do you go for help if you currently feel like even getting up out of bed or out of a chair is like wading through porridge. How do you ‘go out and make new friends’ if you don’t find anything likeable about yourself and therefore can’t imagine for one second why anyone else would enjoy your company. How do you put yourself out there if the previous end result was that you stood in a room wrapped in a cocoon of fog while everyone around you was vibrant and engaged and fully embracing that elusive casual happiness that seems as unattainable as a lottery jackpot?

This post is focussing on children and teens as if we don’t start reaching out to change their attitudes and improve their self-confidence and self-worth then this situation is only going to keep on growing and self-perpetuating.

So for children and teens in the UK, where can they go for help? If the generation above them is full of people with no tolerance and no understanding then they will be met with a wall of ‘don’t be so pathetic’ and ‘oh for god’s sake, just get on with it’ not forgetting ‘man up’.

I personally think there needs to be a new programme throughout schools put in place to deliver grass roots help and support to children and teens, building their confidence and self-esteem in such a way that the earliest niggles of self-doubt may well never develop into anything further.

I’ve seen that the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are championing #WMHD2015 and I hope that with their backing and support there might finally become a time for our children and our children’s children when mental health can reach a parity with physical health. A time when children will grow up with a sensitivity to others so that they are an inbuilt peer support system for each other.

You don't have to hit to hurt

However angry you are with a child, shouting and using abusive language is never the answer.

I have found it fascinating on #EducatingCardiff to see how the teens change their behaviour once the adults change theirs; the commitment and patience shown by several of the staff at Willows High is a joy to observe and surely should serve as an example to others in the profession. This ties in with the quote ‘You don’t have to hit to hurt.’

It can’t be coincidence that shouting, punishing and belittling students makes their attitude and behaviour deteriorate (along with their self belief and sense of safety and wellbeing), whereas praise, encouragement, trust, friendship and support makes them flourish and re-engage with their work, friends and the world around them.

If children were built up and nurtured at home and at school then they would stand more chance of growing up to be strong, confident, caring adults who would in turn build up and nurture their own friends, family and children; there is a great quote by Frederick Douglass ‘It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.’

So what is there in terms of support for this age group? The local mental health services are all suffering cut backs and only the more severe cases are getting through to access care. (Needless to reiterate if children were loved and nurtured appropriately in the first place this would vastly cut the numbers who would need to be referred.)

For adults there are many services available, like Blurt.org

For children and teens there is of course Childline, our local YMCA runs a free counselling service for this age group and there are several Facebook support groups out there but it is important to check that it is a supportive one as there are also several very scary pro suicide groups too.

There is also Big White Wall which offers an interesting take on support and is well worth looking into, I believe they have an app too. Speaking of apps, here is a list of apps that may help with wellbeing.

With support it is a case of finding what works for you. Joining a club or an evening class may be the solution for some people, but having secret online peer support is what works for others. Don’t give up if the first thing you try doesn’t work.

If anyone can suggest other support options in the comments that would be really helpful.

With love – and remember – you are worth it, you are a good person and you are doing fine x

What Is A Blurt BuddyBox?

Posted on 2nd June 2015 in #charitytuesday/ Blurt/ depression

Buddy Box#WIN – everyone who posts an image on Twitter, Pinterest or Instagram of their buddy or one of the captioned Blurt images with the hashtag #BlurtBuddyBox, will be entered to win one of two annual BuddyBox subscriptions, worth £222. Two winners will be announced on Monday 15 June, 2015.

Launched on 1 June 2015, The Blurt Foundation’s new BuddyBox subscription box makes a thoughtful gift for anyone affected by depression. And if you’re living with depression, buying a subscription for yourself is a great way to enjoy a little self-care.

Every month, The Blurt Foundation will create a special box filled with things to help, inspire and comfort those with depression. Each box will have a different theme – for example, products and tips for a good night’s sleep or items to recharge the body and mind and each BuddyBox can be personalised with a special note for the receiver.

If you know someone struggling with depression, it can be difficult to show your support. Often a chat over coffee or an extra-tight hug is enough, but there might be times you want to do a little bit more. Depression can’t be treated with ‘things’, but these clever care packages will let a loved one know you’re thinking about them. And that’s a very nice thing.

Blurt Buddy Box

Depression can make you feel like a burden to those around you and there’s an inclination to withdraw from friends and family. When you feel someone withdrawing from you, it can be difficult to know how to bridge the gap. Seeing a friend or loved on suffer from depression is a challenge in its own right.” Says Jayne Hardy, The Blurt Foundation’s Founder and CEO. “You want to help but you’re not always sure where to begin. Finding the right words can be hard. A BuddyBox says so much – “I care about you”, “I’m here for you”, “you do matter”, “I’m sorry you’re struggling”, “you are loved”. It opens the channels of communication, letting someone know, you’re fighting their corner against depression.”

Pricing and Availability

The BuddyBox is available to order now at http://www.blurtitout.org/buddybox with a one-off BuddyBox costs £21.50 and monthly recurring subscriptions prices start from £21.50. (Quarterly, 6-monthly and annual discounted subscriptions available.)

Coupon Code ILOVEBUDDYBOX gives customers a 10% discount on all orders and doesn’t expire until 30 June, 2015.

About The Blurt Foundation

Buddy Box

Wear A Blurt Badge With Pride #CharityTuesday

Posted on 6th March 2012 in #charitytuesday/ blog badge/ Blurt/ depression

The good people at Blurt feel strongly that the stigma won’t go away unless we all keep talking. They need YOU to help start a conversation and raise awareness which is why they’ve designed these badges for you. There are many ways you could use them; as an avatar on social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook or perhaps you have a blog/website and would like to use them on your pages.

NB: copy the orange html coding only to embed on your blog or website. You will need to embed in a widget or the html section of a post. Alternatively, please right click on the image and save on your computer to then upload into your blog.

 

<pre>  <img src=”http://blurtitout.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Stamp-Out-badge-150×125.jpg” />  <pre>
    <pre>  <img src=”http://blurtitout.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/02/Member-of-Blurt-Army-badge1-150×150.jpg” />  <pre>
 

So, pick your favourite badge, add it to your blog and let’s all help spread the word together and stamp out the stigma of depression forever.

(Yes, that did rhyme, sorry about that….)

Blurt It Out #CharityTuesday

Posted on 8th November 2011 in #charitytuesday/ Blurt/ depression/ Digital Heroes/ mentoring

Today’s #CharityTuesday post comes with a deeply personal back story. I hope that this post reaches someone who needs it. Before I hand you over to Jayne from Blurt, I’d like to tell you that she’s been nominated for a ‘digital heroes’ award. Isn’t that wonderful? And if, like me, you think she deserves it, it would be really great if you could follow this link and vote for her. Now, over to Jayne….

 

Talking out about my depression was one of the scariest yet liberating things I ever did. I’d started a beauty blog because at my worst, I didn’t give two hoots about personal hygiene and I thought that if I wrote about beauty products, well I’d have to blimmin’ well use them. My blog kind of developed, I preferred writing more personal posts because they were therapeutic but also there always seemed to be someone who replied in the comments section, a virtual ‘knowing nod’.

I wrote about how the stigma of depression had affected me one day. The easiest blog post I’ve ever written but not the easiest one to publish. As I pressed the publish button, I was worried that I’d made the wrong decision. I needn’t have worried. Not only did the blog post attract lots of comments but I was also contacted by email and Twitter. It was clear people were happy to talk about their experiences of depression but it was also clear that women felt more comfortable doing so in an open forum (the emails and Twitter DM’s were predominantly from men). This triggered something in my brain, got me thinking. I believed there should be somewhere fresh and welcoming. Somewhere people could come to talk without fear of judgement. When I’d been ill, the doctor had suggested community groups but I was too scared to leave the house to see friends, let alone strangers. Online forums scared me, I didn’t want to talk to people who were as ill as me but I did want to feel understood.

I have suffered with depression for most of my adult life. I wasn’t sure what it was at first and found it incredibly difficult to explain to my friends and husband, then boyfriend, what was wrong with me as he knew very little about the illness. In fact, it’s probably fair to say that his opinions and thoughts on depression had been swayed by the stigma and he couldn’t understand why I wouldn’t just cheer up. Eventually through determination and buckets of patience, we began to work through the millions of thoughts milling around in my head. He used to say that he could almost hear my thoughts because I was so fidgety with them. They say ‘better out than in’ and I couldn’t agree more. Blurting out these irrational thoughts which made no sense helped. My husband would help me work through them until they did make sense.

Neither my Mum nor my husband knew a thing about depression before my Sister and I became ill and often they needed support but didn’t know where to turn which is why Blurt is aimed at all those affected by depression – those that live/love/like someone with the illness as well as those who are ill.

Predominantly, Blurt provides people with a mentoring scheme. The mentoring scheme is volunteer led and all our mentors have one thing in common – they have all been affected by depression in some way.

Since our launch in August, we have mentored and continue to do so, over 300 people. We aim to match mentees with mentors who share similar experiences. All mentees are CRB checked and monitored to make sure they do not give advice or counsel, they are simply a friend, someone for you to offload, someone who will understand. We want to be that point of call so that sufferers realise that there are people out there who can help and listen.

Depression doesn’t discriminate and neither do we. We mentor men and women in their 70’s as well as teenagers. Some have depression, some are worried about their loved ones and some just want to rant, get something off their chest.

People are also starting to send in their own stories for feature on the blog section of the Blurt website. This is incredible as it really shows the diversity of the people affected and also how depression affects people in different ways. Each story is honest but they all have a tinge of positivity. They person has fought depression and is currently winning.

We’re full of big ideas including an education programme to roll out to secondary schools and universities. We’d like to work to ensure the elderly have access to the internet and above all else, we’d like to try to kick the stigma to the curb for once and for all. Like any organisation there are start up costs and running costs. We’re talking advertising spots, business cards, flyers, courses, mentor resources etc. While there’s a lot of goodwill amongst the Blurt team and a lot of elbow grease and energy, there are no money trees. Above and beyond our own personal injection of funds any donations given are greatly appreciated. You may even fancy holding your very own Blurt Air&Share event – cake, coffee and chatting.

Being an illness so close to our hearts, the Blurt team is extremely passionate and driven. We’re determined to make a difference and we want to show that depression doesn’t have to stop you doing anything. Yes it makes it harder to achieve goals and often normal every day things, but with the right tools, you can have a life. You can live your dreams.

Twitter www.twitter.com/blurtalerts

Facebook http://www.facebook.com/pages/Blurt-Foundation/221688784531797

Website www.blurtitout.org

To apply to be a mentor or to request a mentor, please visit http://blurtitout.org/what-helps/mentors 

And don’t forget, you can vote for Jayne to be a digital hero – just follow this link and vote for her.

 

 

 

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