Monday, October 17, 2011

Vacation Time

My psychiatrist has asked me to stop writing for an audience.  I now have to write just for me.  He is worried that I still filter my emotions and am not being completely honest with myself.  For this reason, I will be taking a break for some time.

This is not forever.  I love writing and sharing.

Take care and as always, be kind

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Why I write a blog

Back in January, when I had what I refer to as my 'breakdown', I wrote to spew out everything I was feeling.    A lot of what I wrote never made it to my blog.  It was too much.  It was pure angst, pure emotion and certainly not for the public arena.

As January turned into February and the year progressed; I soon came to realise I was not just writing for me.  I was writing as a voice for depression.  It was very apparent (and I have first hand experience) that many people did not understand mental illness.  Most are kind and supporting and wanting to know.  I also found comfort in knowing I was not alone.  So, in turn, I hoped too, that I could comfort others.

There are some months where I have regularly posted, quite often daily, and then there are some months I barely manage 5 or 6.  Those meagre months are quite indicative of how I was faring mentally.

Writing has been good for me.  I forgot how much I love writing.  Back in high school days I was going to be a Journalist.  Don't ask me when that changed.  I still have a thirst for writing the truth and inspiring people.  I now also have a thirst for making a difference.  Educating the general public or helping a fellow mental illness sufferer.

My psychiatrist, also wants me to keep writing.  Keep outpouring my emotions.  I do this less now online; sometimes, instead, writing a journal the old fashion way.  It really does help.  Just to get it off your chest, get it on paper or send it off into cyber space.

I will keep on writing.  Keep sharing facts, sometimes bare my soul.  I love it.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Is it that hard to be silent

A subject I have lightly touched on very ambiguously, but never, really gone into depth is the bullying that is happening at our school.  It is not the kids but a couple of the Mothers.  It is disgusting behaviour and it is unwarranted, unkind and a true revealing of the lack of character in these people.

I have avoided writing about it and have never responded in person, in the hope my silence would see an end to it.  Afterall, if you don't add fuel to the fire than it can no longer burn.  This situation, however, seems to be an inferno burning out of control.

Once again, I won't go into details but what I can't understand is how some people can be so unkind.  Particularly, when the only thing I am guilty of is having a nervous breakdown and suffering from a subsequent mental illness.  How dare I.  A couple of my friends have also become fodder for their nastiness because they have refused to give up on our friendship and thus sully themselves with such juvenile highschool antics.

This is a situation that has been noticed by other people (despite our silence).  The actions of these bullies are being commented on and while their is no 'sides' so to speak, people are noticing who is loud and who is silent.

I will continue to remain silent, firstly because I won't stoop to their level, but secondly, I won't sacrifice my own values for five minutes of self satisfaction.  Despite the hurt, years on when I look back on this time, I know I will be proud.  Proud that I was able to maintain my dignity, keep my temper and offer them no reason to continue their nasty campaign.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Worried Much?

You know what, it is little wonder we worry.  I have just started reading The Happiness Trap by Dr Russ Harris MD.

A very dear friend lent this to me months ago and I had forgotten I had it.  Only up to page 13 and am already blown away by it.  It really makes so much sense. The following paragraph though not word for word does come from the book.

Back in the days of early human hunter-gatherer we only had four needs to survive: food, water, shelter and sex.  The only worry we had was "don't get killed". For us in the now, as life becomes more and more complicated our worries too have become much more complicated and with too many worries to keep tally.  Think about it in just one day you worry will your alarm clock go off, will you get the kids to school on time, get to work on time, get through your day, avoid a speeding ticket, wonder how you will pay your bills, fear of being rejected, getting cancer, what to cook for dinner and so many millions more.

It is little wonder people burn out, suffer anxiety and depression and simply can't cope.  Life is hard.  There is no easy answer and there is nothing we can do to reduce the worry load.

What we can do is look at how we think about this.  I am not going to dwell too much on this mainly because it is something I do so poorly.  I try to always practice what I preach you see.

Remember, if you are having a crap day and don't know why, just think, you are tired and over worrying so much.  Take a breath, make a cuppa and try to remember you are human and you are bound to make mistakes.  Avoidance is not the answer of course but time out is definitely something you need.

If you want to read more go to his website Act Mindfully very worth the investment of your time.

I am betting as I read more of this book I will have more to say, so stay tuned.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

What are you thankful for?

I just now have read a lovely blog and the author wrote a lovely post of all the things she is thankful for.  It made me think.  I have plenty to be thankful for and yet I write about my pain and suffering.  So this post is dedicated to everything in my life that I am blessed to have.

  • firstly I am thankful for my Husband and children.  They are the reason I get up each day.  My husband is the safe harbour in my storm and my kids are just pure unadulterated joy.  (they can be little shits too but I can live with that)
  • next my family particularly my Mum.  Even now at the age of 42 (that is me not Mum) my Mum can fix things or make me see another side of things that nobody else can
  • my friends are a very enrichening part of my life.  I am blessed with some life long and also more recent friends who do not judge me, but accept and understand and offer love, support and kindness.  Sometimes they also run amuck with me but that is another story
  • I am also grateful for our big plasma tv and foxtel IQ.  I am not a tv addict but there are some wonderful shows and foxtel IQ not only easily with the press of one button records that show but also series link's it so you won't forget and miss any of those future episodes.  I know not a biggie but it does simplify life.
  • My library card - I am a recent new member of our library and I must say am very impressed with the choice and services on offer.  I decided to join the library because books are expensive and it is also my little contribution to saving the environment.
If I thought long and hard I could come up with so much more.  I could talk about the wonderful country I live in (politics aside), the fact that I have a roof over my head and so on.  There is so much in our lives we take for granted and from now on I am going to try and take stock more often rather then just talk about my depression and how I battle it on a daily basis.

I am also thankful for my regular and new readers.  It means so much to me that you take the time out of your busy day to read the words I have put down.  I don't just write for myself.  I write to be a voice and make a difference.  If this helps one person, I am rapt.

I hope you too can take five minutes to think about the simple but wonderful things you are blessed with. 
As always, be kind,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Quiz Time


The following quiz appeared on the web and has been all over the world. See how you do:

1. Name the 5 wealthiest people in the world.
2. Name the last 5 Heisman Trophy winners.
3. Name the last 5 winners of the Miss America contest.
4. Name 10 people who have won the Nobel or Pulitzer Prize.
5. Name the last half dozen Academy Award winners for best actor and actress.
6. Name the last decade's worth of World Series winners.

The point: None of us remember the headliners of yesterday. These are not second-rate achievers. They are the best in their fields. But the applause dies. Awards tarnish. Achievements are forgotten. Accolades and certificates are buried with their owners.

Here's another quiz. See how you do on this one:

1. List a few teachers who aided your journey through school.
2. Name 3 friends who have helped you through a difficult time.
3. Name 3 people who have taught you something worthwhile.
4. Think of a few people who have made you feel appreciated and special.
5. Think of 3 people you enjoy spending time with.
6. Name half a dozen heroes whose stories have inspired you.


The lesson: The people who make a difference in your life are not the ones with the most credentials, the most money or the most awards. They are the ones who care.

~ Unknown

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Yesterday was a doozy

Yesterday from out of nowhere I was hit with anxiety, stress and many many tears.  I didn't see it coming, it hit me like a tonne of bricks and I could not escape it.  Worse, my kids witnessed my tears.  I usually am successful in hiding or postponing the tears but yesterday they were on me faster than you could say Rumpelstiltskin.

Poor Waz, again copped it, that man really deserves a Sainthood.  He endures so much and loves me nonetheless.  It is such an awful feeling.  Afterwards, I apologised to Warren and tried to explain I don't even know it is coming let alone have the skills to control it.

It was a yucky overcast rainy day and I wonder if that contributed to my feelings of overwhelming despair.  I also slept for about three hours but am not sure that I did so because I exerted so much nervous energy or because I was tired to begin with.

When I am feeling this way nothing can console me.  I am worthless, hopeless and so very undeserving.  Nothing anyone can say will convince me otherwise.  It is such an awful way to feel.  I did not shower, I did not brush my hair I was totally wrapped up in my own feelings of worthlessness.  I could not face anyone and certainly could not leave the house.

I also took the full limit of what is known in the medical profession as P.R.N. - Pro Re Nata which is latin for  "in the circumstances" or "as the circumstance arises".  It is commonly used in medicine to mean "as needed" or "as the situation arises." It is generally abbreviated to p.r.n. in reference to dosage of prescribed medication that is not scheduled; instead administration is left to the nurse/caregiver or the patient's prerogative. p.r.n. administration of medication is not meant to imply and should never allow for exceeding a prescribed daily regimen.

Today, as I write this I am certainly much improved on yesterday.  I am still a bit tense; but mostly ok.  I think I am scared that I will forever be a hostage to these uncontrollable feelings that take me when I least expect.

I will leave you with this song which was today played on one of the local radio stations as Mental Health Week's song of the day.

Sending you all calm and soothing love

Monday, October 10, 2011

Relapse Prevention Plan

What is a relapse prevention plan?  To quote Wikipedia Relapse Prevention is a cognitive-behavioural approach with the goal of identifying and preventing high-risk situations like depression.  I have also linked the Wikipedia description for cognitive-behavioural for those wanting further reading.

The morning of my discharge a social worker/psychologist (I can't remember which) spent some time discussing what my 'relapse prevention plan' will be.  This involved recognising who was in my support team.  My support team includes my husband, Mum, my psych nurse (who usually visits me at home weekly), my psychiatrist (who I mostly see about fortnightly) and of course my friends.

We also looked at what my early warning signs are:

  • crying
  • irritable and fighting with my husband (my poor husband)
  • withdrawing
  • lack of personal hygene (as shaming as this is to admit)
  • cognitive distortions
And daily I have to track how I am feeling and rate it accordingly.  The scale my social worker/psychologist suggested is 0 - good, 1 - average and 2 - severe.  

I have also stumbled across the most amazing website Ontrack which provides online programs and support; all self paced, to help you recognise triggers, deal with them and so much more.  It has an interactive diary and mood mapper (you can print a graph out with the mood mapper) and best of all it is totally free.  I am only through the first program and at this stage will think about where I am for a few days before I move on.  That is the beauty about it being self-paced; you do it as it suits you.

I plan on daily writing in the diary and using the mood mapper and this will be a huge part of my Relapse Prevention Plan.  I will also make an effort to shower daily, be more open and available and talk about my feelings with my husband.  I will also call on my other supports and remember they are there for me not just for there good looks (haha).

Day 2 and 3 have been very quiet days hanging out the house and enjoying some quality time with the family.  Just the tonic I needed.  I have felt mostly calm but discovered I will escalate from 0 to 100 in flat second.  I need to work on this and find a way to stabilise my moods.  I guess being aware is step 1.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Day One

Friday was my first day full day home.  And I have to confess it was very challenging and I did on occasion get quite tearful.  Being in hospital is of course a safe and protected environment.  This is good so you can rest and get treated but it does not prepare you for the real world that is waiting out there.

I struggled with a few issues that are constant sources of pain and torment.  I know I should be able to overcome these issues but for some reason they continue to be ever present and even fester.

My poor husband, who is patient, kind and loving, copped it from me as I sought to release the tension and of course he listened and comforted me as he always does.

I wish I could release myself from my paranoid thoughts and fears.  It can be all consuming and I know deep down very irrational.  But this is why I am sick.  I started to buy into the paranoia.  I started believing it and I could not overcome it.

I wish it was otherwise.  I wish I could be healthy and whole and not think the things I think.  I certainly would not wish this on anyone.  It is exhausting and very upsetting, despite the fact it is all imagined.

I rang my husband at work, I rang my Mum at home not just once but at least three times each.  They of course reassured me and patiently talked me through my fears.

But my sick and twisted brain just can't let go of these feelings.  I guess it does not help that they are partially fuelled by real events.  However, I have allowed these events to determine my behaviour and feelings far past their used by date.

My psychiatrist told me writing and journalling is a great way to help myself.  Believe me, I am trying everything I can in my quest for mental health wellness.  I am determined that 2011 is the year I went crazy but also that it is confined just to this year.  We are nearing the end of 2011 and 2012 is going to be a great and healthy year for me.

Mental illness changes nothing in me, it just means I have been too strong for too long.  I am still me, I am still the same friend I always was, I am still the same person who supported you, the same person who was there for you in your hour of need, I am still the same person who was kind and loyal.  I am however, more savvy and more aware that not all people have the character and integrity and are unable to be kind and loyal themselves.  It hurts, it has pained me deeply but I will survive and be a better, stronger person for it.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Some facts and figures

October 10 is World Mental Health Day and I just wanted to share some more facts and figures.  Please note all this information comes courtesy of Dr Deb's Blog.

World Mental Health Day has been celebrated annually on the 10th of October since 1992. Now in it's 19th year, this year's campaign is "Investing in Mental Health."

Here are some facts about mental health:

*The burden of mental disorders gives rise to huge social and economic consequences to individuals, their families and whole communities or populations.
*Neuropsychiatric disorders cause 1/3 of years lost due to disability worldwide and account for 13% of total disease burden.

*80% of the global burden of disease due to mental disorders is found in low- and middle-income countries.

*Among all disabilities, mental disorders are associated with the highest rates of unemployment, between 70% and 90%.

*Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.

*33% of countries have no mental health budget.
*1 in 4 people will be affected by a mental disorder at some point in their lives.
*Every 40 seconds someone dies by suicide.
*4 out of 5 people with mental disorders in developing countries don’t receive treatment.
*Almost 50% of all mental disorders begin before the age of 14.

And yet, it is still ridiculously swept under the carpet and not talked about.  Well guess what?  I will never be silent about it.  If I can help one person to understand the awfulness of this invisible condition than it has all been worthwhile.

If you want to know more please download this PDF File about "Investing in Mental Health".

Friday, October 7, 2011

Everyone is extraordinary in their own right

It is so easy to get lost and forget that you as a person are worthy and worthwhile.  This past year I have lost my way.  I forgot I am awesome.  I forgot I meant something to not just someone but lots of someones.  I am starting to get my mojo back and in the spirit of this post I plan to write about some of the amazing things I have done.  This is not to show off but to remind me I can do it and am someone worth knowing.

When I was 30 I travelled overseas and lived in London for six months.  It was not about the destination, it was more running away.  I did not want to turn 30.  I felt I was stuck in a rut and heading OS was the best thing I could have done for myself.  Living in London was certainly an amazing adventure.  I was there for the Summer and it was one stinker of a Summer that year.  I scored a job with London Transport which comes with the best benefit; free tube and bus travel.  You see, travel on the tube and bus network is quite expensive, so I really was a very lucky girl.  The job too was a great job.  There is no way I would have landed such a job in Brisbane.  It was working on change management and communicating that change to the rank and file employees and then measuring and evaluating the feedback.

This involved several events and one event was at the Barbicon which is like the Cultural Centre here in Brisbane.  This one, was for the top 600 management from London Transport.  All the directors and managers.  And, I publicly addressed them.  It was one of the scariest and most amazing things I have done.  While working on this project, the Deputy Prime Minister at the time was also very involved and Tony Blair even visited our building - I very nearly rubbed shoulders with him.  The project I was involved with was quite often front page news in all the print media.  I still have some of those newspapers now.

It's true you can't make them crack a smile.

Probably the most very amazing of amazing things is that I have given birth twice.  The first time was pretty scary as any new Mother would agree and I had heaps of intervention but the second time I did it totally drug free.  And while I agree this is not for everyone it is something I am very proud of.

I have received an award from the Governor (at Government House in all it's pomp and splendour) for volunteer services to Autism Qld.  From the time Clay was diagnosed to about a year ago I was a very outspoken advocate for autism awareness.  I still am a passionate advocate but this past year I have lost my voice.  Just recently, I have found it again.  Watch out world.

When I was last in the work place, at the height of my career, I managed over 80 staff.  I was responsible for hiring, inducting, training, counselling, performance and where necessary firing.  Managing people is probably one of the toughest things you can do in the work place.   I know I am capable but I no longer have the drive for this.

I am a daughter, sister, wife and mum.  I love my family.  They mean everything to me and they are my number one priority always.

Lastly, I am a good friend.  I know I am loyal, thoughtful, devoted and caring.  I used to be a tonne of fun and I do plan on finding that zany character again one day soon.

So, I hope the world is ready for the re-launch of Laura, the one I have written about, the one I used to be.  I am coming back, I am taking no prisoners and I am ready.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Get Off The Cross We Need The Wood

Had a session with my psychiatrist last night.  He agrees I am experiencing delayed grief.  My tendency to see life through rose tinted glasses and hold everything too close to my chest has not been good for me.

For starters he wants me to write about the day Clay was diagnosed with autism.  I know I have covered this in previous posts; but this time he wants me to not be the martyred mother, not edit my feelings. But really openly and honestly be transparent about the unfairness of it.

I argued with him of course.  I feel very disloyal and feel as if this is a sign of rejection.  But no, he says I am entitled to rage to the world about the unfairness and unjustness of life and what cards you are dealt with in life.  It does not mean I love my son any less; it does not mean I am a bad Mum; it just means I am finally acknowledging the grief I never let surface in the past.

In this picture Clay is about 3.  It is twelve months after 'that' day.  He is actually doing his best to look at the camera.  Eye contact not being a strong point.  He is clutching his beloved Boohbah.  He is being very brave.  I too always felt I had to be brave for his benefit.  Me wailing and grieving was not going to help him.  After all, he needed so much help, so much intervention.  So much in fact we chose to sell our house to free up funds to help with the cost of all the different therapies he needed.

I can't remember much leading up to the appointment of Diagnosis Day.  I do know we had already been to many different therapists and I was constantly excusing Clay's quirkiness which I fondly called Clayisms.  He liked to see people's feet, touch people's noses.  He sat backwards on any trike or little ride on car.  He did not speak. He still ate baby food and so much more.  Yet he was, is my beloved child.  I would die for him and if necessary kill for him.  As any parent would.

Back to that day.  I can't remember the exact date but it was in March 2004.  Ally, Clay's little sister was born on 24th February 2004 so she was brand spanking new and I was still recovering from her birth.  We lived in Mackay and had no family there.  My Mum was over 1000 km's away in Brisbane.  Warren, my darling husband and wonderful Father to our kids went to work.  We treated this day like any other.

It really should not have been a big shock for us.  Clay had accessed a feeding clinic from six months of age because he could not tolerate solids.  He had been attending Occupational Therapy for about twelve months and had also started going to the local SEDU (Special Education Development Unit) run by Education Qld.  We knew something was coming.  We had googled Autism.  Yet, we still had our head in the clouds.  Not our son, life could not be that unfair.  Our son is perfect, he is beautiful and surely he is fine.

I packed the car and back then Clay was in his car seat and Ally in her baby capsule.  I would have had to load up the pram, the nappy bag and all the associated paraphernalia you need for a baby and toddler.  Then when I got to the hospital, unload the pram, get out the kids and most likely chase Clay the whole length of the halls to get to the paediatrician's rooms.  (nothing different from what any Mum does on a daily basis when having an outing with a toddler and a new born) The only difference was that my world was about to be turned upside down and inside out.  And still I was clueless.

I can't remember the words, I can't remember how long we were there for.  I know it was not very long.  I know the diagnosis was pretty early in the appointment and then we spent the rest of the appointment discussing what next.  Again, what was said; I just can't remember.  My mind was reeling.  I can't remember much about that day.  I think going home I just went through the motions.

How could this happen to us.  What had we done to deserve this.  Was I up to the challenge.  I must have rung my husband and family.  I can't remember.  I know I never cried.  I wonder, would I be here in hospital if I had allowed myself to grieve.  If I had wailed and mourned and screamed about the unfairness of it all.  If I had perhaps, got counselling, if I had railed about the total utter crap cards I had been dealt.

It is so very hard to admit that while loving your child there are things you would wish otherwise.  So, I deal with guilt also.  How can I, while loving my child want him to be different.  How can I wish this and still be a good Mother.  It eats away at me.  It tears me apart.  And yet, I still hold it all in.  And, like my doctor said: I have a right to be angry, I have a right to feel hurt and I have a right to be disappointed.  This does not mean I love my child any less.

I now need to work on ways to move on.  I will not let this define me.  I will not let this destroy me. Instead, I will let it strengthen me.  While still, finding a way to work through my grief, allowing it to run it's course and finding a way to be done with it.

It has been seven and a half years since Clay's diagnosis.  He continues to be a source of constant joy but also a source of constant worry.  My doctor says I need to just let it be.  Let him achieve his goals in his own time.  Allow myself and my family to celebrate those goals and not demand too much.  I think I am pretty good at that.  In fact, Clay at times surpasses all my expectations.

This is my most recent snap of my beautiful children and yes he is looking into the camera.

Remember, if you want something bad enough, it can happen.

Love to you all

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Another Day, Another Quest

In my quest to find an alternative to the cognitive distortions I endure (probably suffer but trying to be positive here) I have come across a valuable informative website  This website was referred to me by it's author and I can also recommend it. First though I will write about what is a cognitive distortion. This information has come from a website and whoops I forgot to note which one when last week I copied this information.

We all tend to think in extremes and when traumatic events happen we think that way even more.  This is called cognitive distortions.  They are broken down into the following categories:

  1. All or Nothing Thinking - You see things in black and white categories.  If your performance falls short of perfect you see yourself as a total failure.
  2. Overgeneralisation - You see a single negative event as a never-ending pattern of defeat.
  3. Mental Filter - You pick out a single negative detail and dwell exclusively so that your vision of all reality becomes darkened, like the drop of ink that discolours the entire beaker of water.
  4. Disqualifying the positive - You reject positive experiences by insisting they "don't count" for some reason or other.  You maintain a negative belief that is contradicted by your everyday experiences.
  5. Jumping to Conclusions - You make a negative interpretation even though there are no definite facts that convincingly support your conclusion. This is broken down into two more sub-sections: MIND READING where you arbitrarily conclude that someone is reacting negatively to you and don't bother to check it out and THE FORTUNE TELLER where you anticipate that things will turn out badly and feel convinced that your prediction is an already established fact.
  6. Magnification (Catastrophising) or Minimisation - You exaggerate the importance of things (such as your goof-up or someone else's achievement), or you inappropriately shrink things until they appear tiny (your own desirable qualities or the other fellow's imperfections).  This is also called the "binocular trick".
  7. Emotional Reasoning - You assume that your negative emotions necessarily reflect the way things really are: "I feel it, therefore it must be true".
  8. Should Statements - You try to motivate yourself with shoulds and shouldn'ts, as if you has to be whipped and punished before you could be expected to do anything.  "Musts" and "oughts" are also offenders.  The emotional consequence is guilt.  When you direct should statements toward others, you feel anger, frustration and resentment.
  9. Labelling and Mislabelling - This is an extreme form of overgeneralisation.  Instead of describing your error, you attach a negative label to yourself: "I'm a loser".  When someone else's behaviour rubs you the wrong way, you attach a negative label to him, "he's a damn louse".  Mislabelling involves describing an event with language that is highly coloured and emotionally loaded.
  10. Personalisation - You see yourself as the cause of some negative external event for which, in fact, you were not primarily responsible.
Now that you are aware of what cognitive distortions are, remember to treat yourself the way you would want to treat a friend - sympathetically which much more understanding and tolerance.  It's ok to make mistakes, learning from them (and being nice to yourself while you're doing it) it is an important part of personal development.

The following information comes from

You must change the way you think and your emotions will naturally take care of themselves.  When your thoughts are healthy and positive, your emotions become healthy and positive as well.

You have a choice.  You can allow negative thinking and depression to rule your life, or you can re-establish command and control over your thoughts and push your mind in a positive direction.

Marsha Linehan author of Skills Training Manual for Treating Borderline Personality uses ACCEPTS to help overcome cognitive distortions.

Activities -  excercise, hobbies, clean, visit a friend etc
Contribute - volunteer, do something nice for someone or say something thoughtful
Comparison - remember there are many worse off
Emotions - watch a movie or listen to music that will change your emotions for the better
Push Away - Push the situation away by leaving it for awhile, take a break from your worries
Thoughts - Watch tv, read, do anything that will change your thought pattern
Sensations - clutch a piece of ice, squeeze a tennis ball, have sex (yes this was seriously suggested)

And finally one thing I also came across in my travels through cyberspace - instead of asking "why is this happening to me?" ask yourself "what can I do to make things better?"

I hope you have found this both informative and helpful.  I certainly read and re-read this information a lot at the moment and find it very valuable in helping me deal with my own cognitive distortions (of which there are many).

Take care,

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Can you self-diagnose?

Since coming back into hospital a week ago, I have been a blubbering mess.  If you know me, you would know that this is really quite out of character for me.  I am normally fairly stable and not quick to cry. So, this week I have spent quite some time in self examination, wondering why, suddenly the major change.  Why am I so irrational and literally crying over spilt milk so to speak.

One theory I have which I will discuss with my Doctor is that I am suffering from delayed grief.  If you look at delayed grief on Wikipedia they say:

Delayed grief might manifest as any of the reactions in normal grief: pangs of intense yearning, spasms of distress, short bouts of hysterical laughter, tearful or uncontrolled sobbing, feelings of hopelessness, restlessness, insomnia, preoccupation with thoughts about loved ones, extreme and unexplained anger, or general feelings of depression.  In extreme cases reaction may invoke suicidal tendencies.

This is me down to a tee. If you are wondering how my delayed grief has manifested?  I would seriously blame the ECT (electro-convulsive therapy)  This most certainly has been responsible for major holes in my short term memory.  So, perhaps it has also juggled what I have held a lid on for so long, opened it up and let it loose.

I have never grieved the diagnosis of my son, I have never grieved having to sell my house, I have never grieved several other major events in my life which saw me stoically and stubbornly not dealing with it but rather finding a way to meet it head on and, like in Clay's instance find a way to get him the early intervention he required to help him with his autistic diagnosis.  Phew that was a ridiculously long sentence.

I have lived through the first two choices.  I have let this define me, it has come close to destroying me and bloody hell it is going to strengthen me.  I might die trying (not really) but I am going to get stronger.

While I don't recommend self-diagnosis, when you self-reflect and than discuss these possibilities with your psychiatrist there may be wisdom in your should I be so bold to say madness. (please know I am laughing at myself do not take this personally)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Resources Available for the Mentally Ill

If you are a sufferer of mental illness or a family member caring for someone with mental illness you may at times feel extremely lonely and isolated.  You are not alone.  There are many of you out there.  What you may not know is there are groups and organisations in existence who can provide much needed support, respite and more.  These organisations are there to assist.  You are entitled to access their services.  You deserve their support.

  • Arafmi Queensland - This stands for Association of Relatives and Friends of the Mentally Ill.  They are a Brisbane based organisation and provide support for families and friends of people with a mental health problem.  This includes Support Groups, Counselling, Carer Connect, Education and training, Respite for families, Information and referral and most impressively a 24 Hour telephone support line   tel: 32541881. The telephone support line also has a number for Regional Qld tel: 1800 351881.
  • GROW - Australia wide GROW is weekly meetings of small groups of people (held in your local area) who have experienced depression, anxiety or other mental or emotional distress, who come together to help each other deal with the challenges of life.  It can be extraordinarily liberating and affirming to share problems with others who are encouraging and accepting, and facing similar issues.  tel: 1800 558268
  • Stepping Stone Clubhouse - Located in Coorparoo, Brisbane; Stepping Stone Clubhouse Inc. provides a non-institutional setting where adults with a mental illness give each other support as they work to rebuild their confidence, self-esteem, social and vocational skills. A very small annual membership applies. tel:  38471058
  • Lifeline - providing 24 hour crisis telephone support for people suffering anxiety, depression, loneliness, abuse and trauma, physical or mental wellbeing, suicidal thoughts or attempts, stresses from work, family or society and information for friends and family. tel: 13 11 14
  • SANE Australia - is a national charity working for a better life for people affected by mental illness through campaigning, education and  research.  SANE conducts innovative programs and campaigns to improve the lives of people living with mental illness, their family and friends.  It also operates a busy Helpline and website. tel: 1800 187263
  • beyondblue - is a national, independent, not-for-profit organisation working to address issues associated with depression, anxiety and related disorders in Australia. beyondblue is more a resource provider but it's website does offer extremely valid information and links for additional help               tel: 1300 22 4636
By no means is this a full and conclusive list of what is available.  If you are seriously needing help I would recommend contacting your local hospital immediately and/or calling one of the above listed helplines.  These organisations exist to assist you.  Their staff are trained and qualified to help and you are most deserving of this help.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Did you know that

One in five people will experience mental illness in their lifetime according to our current Mental Health Minister Kevin Humphries.  He asked the public to step up the fight against the stigma and discrimination that surrounds mental health during Mental Health Month.  This is my aim.  Person by person, word by word and post by post.  I write not just for me but for everyone.

Apparently despite the fact that 20% of the population suffer from some form of mental illness there is still a reluctance to acknowledge the extent and impact of mental illness.  Mr Humphries says "The reality of mental illness is that it can affect anyone at any time and when it does it has the potential to significantly impact people's lives.

Lets all try and use Mental Health Month to not just break down the stigma and discrimination that sufferers face but also to champion and work to remove the prejudice which is a major barrier to recovery.  I  can personally attest to this, having faced narrow minded judgemental criticism from people who seek to make themselves more important and impressive by belittling others who may not have the strength to stand up and be a voice for themselves.

I am fighting a personal battle and I will win it.  I will take no prisoners but I will attempt to help others along the way.  You are either with me or not.  If you are not that is fine.  Once again as I ask in many of my posts if you can't be kind be silent.  It is simply so very easy.