Slipping Internally

In general, life has been really good recently, and that’s probably an understatement. This blog has been thriving extremely well, and so have my writing skills and capabilities; which is what led to an article of mine being published on a far more successful fellow blogger’s website. I have been receiving recognition and praise for the work I do, many people have personally thanked me for helping them as well as let me know that I have their support. I’ve been spending the majority of my time with the girl of my dreams, she’s a wonderful person who I care about very deeply and she has improved my life in many ways, simply by making me happier and through being understanding. I’ve also seen many of my friends who I haven’t been in contact with for a long time, which is lovely. I have no money struggles or issues to ‘cause me stress in my life, everything is genuinely great. Externally, I really couldn’t ask for anything better.

However, that is not my current issue. Internally, I can feel myself slipping and getting worse. I have noticed that I have a tendency to fall apart just as my life is getting better and everything is going well; and it is making things very hard for myself at the moment. I currently do not know where I am with my illness as I am losing insight, which is a horrendous feeling. I have been in a rather severe manic episode for the past couple of months, which brings up the following questions: Is my mania going to get worse? Am I transitioning into a mixed episode or depression? Am I going to be plagued by psychosis?

At the current moment in time, psychosis is what seems most plausible due to the fact that I can see many delusions arising and many differences in my perception of reality; things seem to be different in a way that I cannot describe, the way things smell, taste, and feel. It’s all different. My mind is running wild. The following are two small excerpts from my personal journal, this is to show my increasingly delusional thinking and how my mind is slowly losing its grip on reality.

“I’m really not sure what it is. When you have such a reality and mind altering illness, such as schizoaffective disorder, you can’t help but feel alone. Now, I know. I’m not alone, there are many people suffering from the same disorder etc. etc. But that is not the point and that is not the issue. My illness has immersed my being in my own reality, one that is very different from any other individuals; and I am alone in this. The only thing that stands by me, is the illness itself.”

“How can a person miss something they’ve never had? I’ve been stuck on the idea that I am here to find you and I always have been, and I always will be. I hope it’s true, I hope I do find you; that’s why I can’t give up. No, not this time.

I have to get this right, I’m surrounded by vast fields of emptiness with a longing for something that I don’t know I’ll ever have. I am alone.”

Those are some extremely personal thoughts that I typically would not be willing to share, but as I wish to provide an uncensored view on what life with schizoaffective disorder is actually like, I think it is necessary to show them. As you can see there are two main ideas here that I am stuck on and that fuel my delusions, those being that I am completely alone, and that I’m missing something that I have to find, which is why I’m here. These delusions and ideas go far deeper than what I have showed you, these few sentences do not demonstrate how deep these thoughts and feelings can go; and how they can affect every aspect of your life as well as ‘cause an unbearable amount of pain.

Due to all of this, I haven’t been able to write that much recently, even though it is giving me more reason to do so. I have no psychiatrist or any form of mental health care at the moment, and more importantly, I don’t have MY psychiatrist. She has helped me in many ways and would be willing to help during this situation, but she can’t because of this whole transition of care mess that I have to go through. I cannot go back onto antipsychotics, no matter how bad this illness becomes I am not willing to do that to myself again.

I am holding on and hoping for the best, I just hope I don’t end up too unwell by the end of all this. Still, I’m going to ride it out. I know that either way I will get through this. I just hope that the ride isn’t too unpleasant, but who am I kidding? Of course it is.

Addiction: Amphetamine – Personal Experience

I decided to write about addiction on my blog recently, as you may have seen the article I wrote about addiction in general here. However, I’m doing this not only to provide an accurate academic view of addiction, but also to provide my personal experiences with it; as addiction affects every individual differently. I also hope to provide something that others with the same issues can relate to, as well as provide hope itself.

My addiction story with amphetamine began over five years ago. At the start of the year 2011, I was merely 13 years old. I had begun drinking heavily since the start of the year in order to cope with my first depressive episode, which was extremely severe and lasted a duration of six months. However, the start of the year also marked the transition from being in a depressive episode, to my first manic episode.

During January of that year, I would drink alcohol every night without question, resulting in myself going to school with a hangover pretty much every day of that month. It was around mid-January that I had my first experience with amphetamine, and I loved it. However, it wasn’t until the February in which I turned 14 that my addiction truly started. For a good few months I’d go out super early in the morning before school (anytime between 5am and 6am usually), in order to go pick up a couple of grams of amphetamine. Then I’d go back home, sniff a few lines, and off to school my amphetamine and I went. Regardless of where I was and who I was with, I would take amphetamine all day and all night. During this period I rarely slept, although that was due to the effects of both the amphetamine and mania, it was also due to the fact that any time I spent sleeping, meant that it was time spent where I couldn’t take amphetamine, and I wasn’t having that.

During these months I was completely oblivious to the fact that I was indeed addicted to amphetamine. I felt like I couldn’t do anything without it, I wouldn’t do anything without it, and I believed that when I was taking amphetamine, I was the best I could be. However, that was all completely wrong. I’d put both my body and mind through hell, and they both desperately needed to recover. When I did come to the realization that I was addicted to amphetamine and finally accepted it, I did attempt to cut down my use, to no success. It was that easily accessible, that I simply couldn’t resist taking it. My next attempt at beating addiction was making sure I had no amphetamine in my house or on my person, but once again, it was to no success. This was due to the fact that I knew I could leave my house, go on a fairly short walk, and return with as much amphetamine as I could get.

After my failed attempts of beating addiction, and having amphetamine rule my life, I was pushed over the edge and decided that enough was enough. I realised that the way in which I was trying to beat my addiction wouldn’t work, no matter how hard I would try my failed attempts were just that, failed attempts. I knew that I had to go differently about it, and the only thing I hadn’t attempted to do so far was go cold turkey on it; which I did, and I did it successfully. However, this wasn’t without its hardships. I remember having to take over a week off from school due to a horrendous comedown and withdrawals.

My stomach was practically destroyed, I couldn’t eat or drink without immediately throwing it back up during the first few days. This led to me feeling even worse due to being dehydrated and undernourished. I felt extremely weak and could barely muster up the strength to do anything, therefore I slept, or attempted to sleep through most of it.  I had shakes and tremors for quite a while after ceasing my amphetamine use, even when my other withdrawal symptoms vanished. The cravings were impossible to ignore, till this day I still have no idea how I managed to have the strength to pull myself through this, particularly at such a young age. I was very irritable and depressed during the week of withdrawals, and I never thought I’d say this but thankfully the mania did return and I was left feeling great again.

I will always have a love for stimulants, especially amphetamine. Which I do still use from time to time, but it can get out of hand very easily so I know I have to keep my wits about me and remain cautious at all times. I never intend on allowing amphetamine to become such a large part of my life, but I never intend on ceasing the use of it altogether either.  Everything is fine in moderation, and to end on a relatively good note, here is a quote from my 15 year old self which never fails to make me laugh:

“I take addictive drugs and then wonder why I’m addicted”.

Transition of Care: Left Out on a Limb

It has been well over a month since my transition of care began and I am still no clearer on the situation than I was before. During this period I’ve met with my ‘mental health care team’ or whatever they choose to refer to themselves as, once. I did meet with a member of the Early Psychosis Intervention team during this time, but they were of no help whatsoever and it was an unfortunate waste of time. This means that I have been left with no psychiatrist or any form of professional help within the mental health sector for quite some time.

This would not be of much concern to me, except for the fact that both my psychiatrist and all the other members of my mental health care team believed I was manic, yet I still haven’t heard anything from them and have been left to my own devices; which has led to my illicit drug use increasing, although that may have been unavoidable regardless of their intervention. I am unmedicated by choice and have been for a few months now, this has given them more reason to monitor me; particularly my psychiatrist. However this ceased once the transition of care began, which is out of my psychiatrists hands and I hold her in no way responsible for what has and is occurring.

If you haven’t previously noticed, I think very highly of my psychiatrist and found she helped me far more than I could have imagined. She was exceptionally good at her job and was a wonderful person in general. Due to this I did want to avoid this transition of care, however we both knew that it was unavoidable. I do miss her quite a lot for these reasons, and it also causes me to think that there’s probably a very slim chance that I will have such an outstanding psychiatrist again. I was also unfortunate enough to find out that she has been seriously ill for quite some time, which makes me worry about her quite a lot, but hopefully she’ll recover quickly and be back to doing what she loves soon.

Thankfully, for the past couple of months and during the current moment, I am no way in need of my mental health care team. I may be slightly manic, but I have everything under control to a certain degree; and I have found I am far happier as of late, and life has been pretty great in general. I have managed to keep boundaries and restraints with myself in order to avoid going into full blown mania, and have been heavily focusing on my writing which is beginning to pay off. However, I do know that I need to slow down or I’m just going to crash and burn, I have a tendency to fall apart when my life is continuously getting better.

As long as I can keep on this path, I should be completely fine until all of this is resolved. It’s always a waiting game with the NHS.

Addiction

Addiction is a mental disorder in which a person will either consume a substance or engage in an activity which becomes a compulsive need and interferes with day-to-day ordinary life. Addiction is defined by not having control over your compulsions, or what you are taking or using to the point that it could become harmful to you. When a person is addicted to something, they will experience withdrawals once they cease consuming the substance or engaging in the activity they are addicted to. When you first hear the word ‘addiction’, the majority of people typically think about drugs, alcohol and gambling. Whereas a person can actually become addicted to just about almost anything, some other common addictions include:

  • Work
  • The internet
  • Shopping
  • Exercise
  • Food / Drinks
  • Gaming
  • Sex
  • Hoarding

A person who is suffering from addiction problems may not be aware of their behaviour or the problems it is causing for themselves and those around them. This can make them far less likely to accept treatment as they do not see a problem with their ways, and they may even refuse to accept that they do have a problem, which is what can make addiction so difficult to treat; but it can be done, and it can be done successfully.

When a person is aware of their addiction, the strain of managing it can still cause serious problems in your life, work and relationships. Depending on what addiction you have, it can also cause a number of serious psychological and physical effects. It can also be used as a way of blocking out difficult issues, which may provide a temporary solution initially, but it will soon add to your problems rather than solve them. Addiction is a mental illness than can affect people of all ages from all backgrounds, therefore it should be treated as one. Addiction is capable of destroying lives of the people who suffer from it, as well as those around them, but it doesn’t have to be that way. As I will discuss later, there are treatments available for addiction, and the subject should be approached with understanding and care rather than negativity. Encourage those suffering from addiction to get the help they require.

What Causes Addiction?

There are a huge range of reasons of why addictions begin. Although some studies suggest that addiction is genetic, environmental factors are also thought to increase the risk of addiction.

In order to avoid withdrawal symptoms or what is known as a ‘come down’, the person would have to continue their consumption of a substance or engaging in the particular activity they are addicted to. The reason addicts do this is because withdrawal symptoms are often extremely unpleasant can last lengthy durations of time, therefore it is easier for the said person to continue taking or doing what they are addicted to and the cycle continues. As with a lot of addictions, in order to achieve the same satisfaction or high, the user will often have to take or do more to achieve the same effect; which is where addictions often get out of control.

Some people may suffer from an addictive personality disorder, this makes that individual predisposed to developing an addiction. They may experience feelings of depression and anxiety which are managed by developing an addiction to a substance or activity. This also means that an addict is more prone to experience feelings of anxiety, anger, and depression.

Treating Addiction

Addiction is a treatable condition, which can be treated and managed in a number of ways, regardless of what the addiction may be. In order to receive the help you require, you should go to a professional for treatment; whether that be a doctor, counsellor, therapist, rehab centre, psychiatrist or maybe even a combination of them.

The first phase of treatment is detoxification or withdrawing from the substance or activity the individual is addicted to, this is the process in which the body will rid itself of a substance if the addiction is substance related. Following this behavioural therapy and counselling would take place, they are important parts of addiction treatment as they help the person to identify, avoid and cope with situations in which they are most likely to abuse substances or activities. Family therapy may also be used in order to help the patient maintain a supportive environment, as well as improve family functioning. Depending on the addiction, medication may also be used as a treatment, this is typically for those suffering from a substance addiction. There will also be an evaluation as well as treatment for any coexisting mental health problems within the patient. Rehabilitation programs and long-term follow ups are often used to help patients gain necessary job and life skills as well as to prevent relapse.

Being Young & Twenty

FirstPublishedArticleElsewhereI would like to give Jennifer (the owner of Young & Twenty) a massive thank you for giving me the opportunity to write for such an amazing project. This is the first time I have been a featured blogger and produced work to be published by someone else; it really is crazy to see yourself and your work on someone else’s website, as well as receiving recognition for your work which is such an amazing feeling that I don’t think I could quite put into words. I am extremely proud of myself for pursuing this dream and I will continue to do so, perseverance truly is the key to anything.

BEING Young & Twenty is a project about what it means to be young and twenty to each individual, as we all have different perspectives and personal experiences of what that means. The part that truly interested me about this is the fact that it includes the perspectives, thoughts and experiences of people of all ages, not just those in their twenties, which really does provide an overall view of what it means to be young and twenty. It’s a wonderful project that shows how we all walk down different paths in life to achieve the same objective, happiness.

My contribution to the project can be found here, but I also ask that you take the time to read the other submissions on the website, or even submit your own.

Personality and Mental Illness – A Personal Perspective

This is a topic I had never really given much thought to, until I realised how severely my personality effects my mental illness, which I then discussed with my psychiatrist which led to one of the most interesting conversations I have ever had. Before I begin, I would like to immediately point out that my personality is not the cause of my mental illness and although there may be a link between the two, your personality is in no way responsible for your mental illness as any individual, regardless of their personality, can become mentally ill.

Now that’s out of the way, let’s get started. I’ve always thought about how mental illness effects myself and my personality rather than looking at it the other way, and when you do look at it the other way, you realise that there is far more involved than you originally thought.

I’ve always been very sure and comfortable in who I am, and through meditation and mindfulness I have gained a deep understanding of myself and my personality, as well as my illness. Which is what eventually lead to discovering the link between my personality and my illness, therefore allowing me to notice how my personality impacts my mental illness. This is an extremely interesting concept, and to understand this in the same way that my psychiatrist discussed the topic, I’m going to give you a general idea of both my personality and mental illness, and then discuss the link between the two. However, this article may be vaguer than I wish it to be, and for that reason I will go over this in a lot of depth at some point in the future.

Just like everyone, I have both bad and good sides to my personality, in order to provide a clear picture I will discuss both the positive and negative sides to my personality, as well as an objective perspective of the person I am in general. If you were to see me standing in the street without knowing me, the first thing that would come into your head would be ‘hippie’ or possibly ‘eccentric’, as it is a part of human nature to prejudge. However, this would give you an immediate idea of who I am, even if it is an assumption, I’d have to say it’s fairly accurate.  I am a friendly and outgoing person, I absolutely love nature and spirituality, and I am fairly confident. I’m very sure of myself in what I say, think, do, and believe. I have found that initially most people find this intimidating but soon realise that although I am very sure of myself, I’m also open minded and like to debate and discuss almost anything. I live by the rule of no regrets, so I tend to take a lot of risks and be quite careless when it comes to myself. As I put it to my psychiatrist, “I like to do the most dangerous things in the safest way possible”.

I am a very tolerant person, but when people push me over the edge I can get very angry very fast. Although I currently have it under control, I do have quite the habit of becoming self-destructive, which can obviously lead to problems for myself and also those who care for me. I have a super addictive personality and can become addicted to almost anything for any period of time, this includes food, drinks, hobbies, and substances. My love for drugs could be seen as a negative part of me, but that would depend on who you are. However, any drug use carried out by a person with a mental illness is clearly not a good idea, but I have found they have not caused any real harm to me, and the positives outweigh the negatives.

As I’ve mentioned before, I suffer from schizoaffective disorder, which to put simply, is the combination of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. This means that I experience states of mania, depression, a mixture of both (mixed episode), and psychosis. I also suffer from severe insomnia which can appear during any of the previously mentioned states, as well as when I am ‘stable’. During these states I experience a variety of symptoms, which are both exaggerated by my personality and have the ability to further bring out different parts of my personality.

When I’m experiencing mania, racing thoughts and crazy ideas are to be expected, however they are further brought out by my knowledge of spirituality and my perspective of the world and how it works. This can lead my mind off on some lengthy tangent which will of course end up making no sense. As you feel 10ft tall and bullet proof when you’re manic, risk taking seems to be a brilliant idea at the time, no matter how risky it is. When I’m stable I take more than enough risks and am way too careless, this means that when I’m manic, the risks I take are no longer risks, they are simply insane. If it seems fun, I’ll do it. This soon leads to an increase of drug use, which is when my addictive personality can really get out of hand, particularly with stimulants. This is dangerous for obvious reasons. Although mania can feel euphoric at times, it can also lead to agitation and full on enragement, meaning that I can get to the point of being irate even quicker than when I’m stable.

Depression doesn’t tend to be affected as much by my personality in comparison to the other states, which I’m very thankful for. However, the parts that do exaggerate it can be quite harmful. Self-destruction along with my anger and violent (typically towards objects) side are what are exaggerated by my personality. Self-destruction has led to me putting myself in some pretty dangerous situations, self-harm, drug abuse and many more negative things. My lack of self-care can become much more prevalent when I am depressed. As I tend to abuse drugs, this can lead to addiction, particularly at this time as I’ll usually feel the need to keep taking whatever substance in order to feel better. However, my addictive personality can grasp on to almost anything when I am suffering from depression, if it’s satisfying, I’ll be addicted to it.

My personality fuels a lot of my symptoms when I’m psychotic. Particularly my delusions and paranoia, mainly due to the fact that my interests lie in eccentric subjects such as spirituality, conspiracy theories, mythology, sociology and psychology. Becoming involved with such subjects can spark off delusions when I am psychotic. Although I may be oblivious to it, my drug use will also likely contribute to the severity of my symptoms and how they present themselves.

As you can see, at times my mental illness and personality are the best of friends and work together quite well, although the combination of two can cause negative results, I would never change it. My mental illness is a part of me, and it has certainly made me who I am today, which is the one thing that I am thankful to my mental illness for. The link between a person’s personality and their mental illness is an extremely interesting concept to explore and comprehend, and I am glad I had the chance to have this conversation with my psychiatrist, as well as write this article.

Coping with Mental Illness: Music

As I’ve previously mentioned there are a variety of ways to manage mental illness with or without medication, leading to a happier and more successful life. One tool I’ve previously mentioned using, is Art Therapy. Although music is one of the arts, I think it definitely deserves its own article due to its effectiveness and the amount of people that do rely on music to cope, including those with a mental illness, and without.

From a scientific perspective, research has shown that music causes dopamine (the feel-good chemical in your brain) to be released. This is scientific proof that music improves your mental wellbeing. There is also evidence that suggests negative themed music creates a positive reaction in the brain, causing you to redirect your energy into a more positive manner and become more productive and motivated. Although all forms of music do this. There are many other benefits of music proven by science, these include:

  • Providing a person with a sense of control
  • Releasing endorphins
  • Relaxes a person by slowing both their breathing and heart rate
  • Enhances higher brain function
  • Improves concentration and attention
  • Improve a person’s mood and reduce the effects of depression
  • Reduces stress
  • Can help a person fall asleep
  • Reduces feelings of fatigue, increasing energy and productivity levels in a person

As you can see there are a variety of benefits to be gained through using music as a way to improve both your physical and mental wellbeing that have been proved through extensive research and the use of science.

Music can be used to express feelings in a healthy and controlled manner, it also allows you to express thoughts and feelings that would be hard for you to say. Many people find music helpful as it provides comfort, something in which the individual relates to and allows you to feel understood. It also improves focus and allows you to maintain attention when performing tasks. A vast amount of people find listening to music to be relaxing, or that it allows you to relax when you are experiencing thoughts and feelings that are causing distress. Another great benefit of listening to or making music is that it fosters creativity, and allows you to think about things from a different perspective.

Many people use music as a way to feel a part of something and combat loneliness. There is a huge social aspect to music, and you can make many great friendships and relationships through music. It gives you something to have in common with others and the opportunity to meet other people that like similar things to you, as well as meet people who have similar struggles as you and understand what you are going through. It’s a magnificent tool for improving your social life, and allows you to cease feelings of loneliness.

How Music Helps Me Cope with Schizoaffective Disorder

Music is my favourite way of dealing with my mental illness. Music has always been a huge part of my life, even before I became mentally ill. As I am also able to play numerous instruments, this has made my love for music grow. I would go as far to say that music is what keeps me sane.

When I experience intense emotions such as anger, sadness, paranoia or any other negative emotion, music is my immediate go to. This is because it provides an immediate distraction and allows me to focus on something else. As I suffer from schizoaffective disorder, this means that I experience hallucinations, typically auditory and visual hallucinations. Music is a great way to block out voices or at least dull the hallucinations, and make them far less bothersome. I have also found music to provide me with motivation and make me far more productive than I would be without it. I regularly use music to change my mood, if I am feeling low and depressed, music is one of the very few things that can successfully improve my mood.

I have suffered with rather severe insomnia over the past few years, and music is one way I have been able to combat this. Although it only works when my insomnia is only of slight intensity, I have found listening to music before and whilst I sleep to actually make me sleep and allow myself to sleep well. This may not work for everyone, or it may only work for me, but if you suffer from insomnia and are yet to try this, give it a shot and see if it works for you. However, music also comes in useful in another way when I am suffering from insomnia; and that is the fact that I can use it to pass time when I am awake during the early hours of the morning. It is a wonderful cure for boredom.

I have found music to be one of the most effective and useful tools in managing my mental illness, I would be completely lost without it. If you find music to be useful to you, make sure you use it, and use it as much as you can. You will be surprised by all the benefits it can bring to you.

Self-Harm

Self-harm is when an individual intentionally injures themselves as a way of coping with or expressing distressing emotions such as sadness, anger and stress. There are many types of self-harm and due to this some individuals who are self-harming may go unnoticed. Self-harm is typically physical, such as cutting yourself. However, they it can be far less obvious; not looking after your own physical and emotional needs, or purposely putting yourself in risky or dangerous situations are also types of self-harm. In some cases, an individual who uses self-harm as a coping method feels that they intend to die when they act out this behaviour to some degree. However, the usual intention is to punish themselves, cope and express the distress they are feeling, as well as to relieve the way they are feeling. It is often a mixture of these reasons that a person will choose to self-harm.

Ways in which self-harm may present itself includes:

  • Cutting yourself
  • Burning your skin
  • Hitting or punching yourself or your surroundings
  • Scratching and hair pulling
  • Overdosing
  • Poisoning yourself
  • Inserting objects into your body
  • Over eating or under eating
  • Exercising excessively

When an individual self-harms, they will usually feel at least somewhat better immediately after the behaviour has occurred. In the long term, self-harm can cause negative feelings to arise, such as regret, disgust, embarrassment and shame. Those who self-harm often go out of their way to hide their behaviour due to the shame associated with self-harm or the fear of discovery. The common worry is that you will be judged for your self-harm or be pressured to stop by those around you, this isn’t always a shared belief but it is certainly very common; as a result most people will hide their self-harm to their best ability.

Although those who self-harm may hide their behaviour, there are signs to look out for which can allow you to spot self-harming behaviour in an individual. These include:

  • Keeping their bodies fully covered, even during hot weather
  • Unexplained cuts, bruises, or burns (often located on the wrists, arms, thighs or torso)
  • Signs of depression
  • Suicidal thoughts/ideation
  • Becoming withdrawn and isolating themselves
  • Self-loathing and expressing a wish to punish themselves
  • Change in eating or sleeping habits
  • Signs of hair loss (through pulling)
  • Signs of alcohol or drug misuse

It’s important to remember that those who self-harm could seriously injure themselves or possibly end their lives, therefore if any of the previous behaviour is noticed in an individual, it is important to approach the subject with care and understanding, in order to ensure they get the help they need.

Why do People Self-Harm?

People may self-harm for a multitude of different reasons, and self-harm is far more common than people realise. It is estimated that 10% of younger people self-harm at some point, which is likely to be an underestimate due to the fact that many individuals who self-harm go undetected, though a person of any age may self-harm.

Self-harm is often a way of dealing with emotional distress caused by a variety of things, the most common being:

  • Bullying
  • Sexual, physical or emotional abuse
  • An illness or health problem
  • Money issues
  • Pressures from school or work
  • Bereavement
  • Confusion about sexuality or gender identity
  • Break down of relationships or friendships
  • Difficult and distressing feelings such as depression, anger, apathy, anxiety, or stress

Not all people who self-harm will know exactly why they are self-harming, and that is perfectly normal. You do not need to know why you self-harm to ask for help and support.

Help and Support Available for People who Self Harm

When a person self-harms, it can often go unnoticed for a long time, which makes it more difficult to treat the individual as self-harm can quite easily become an addiction. If you or anyone you know is beginning to self-harm, it is best to get help immediately.

Reducing and ceasing self-harming behaviour can be a difficult and long process, but it is important to remember that it is just that, a process. The road to recovery is not going to be easy, and you may find that you relapse to your old behaviours, which is perfectly okay, as it is a part of the process. If you feel that you cannot stop self-harming entirely, work out ways that will help you to reduce the amount you self-harm, which will make it far easier to stop doing in the future.

In order to reduce and cease self-harming behaviour, it is a good idea to work out your self-harming patterns which can also help you work out your triggers. This way you can avoid situations and circumstances which will make you feel the need to self-harm. After this, you need to identify how you experience the urge to self-harm. Urges can come in many different forms, these include:

  • Physical sensations
  • Strong emotions, such as fear, anger or despair
  • Specific thoughts such as “I’m going to cut”, “Hurt” or “Pain”
  • Making decisions which are not good for your wellbeing
  • Disconnecting with yourself

If you are able to recognise these urges, you can take steps forward by reducing and stopping your self-harm.

When you begin to feel an urge to self-harm, you should quickly distract yourself by doing something else. I personally find it is best to use something creative, such as writing, drawing, painting or any other form of art. If you want to use art as a way to reduce or stop your self-harm, I previously wrote an article on coping with mental illness through Art Therapy. Music can also be extremely helpful in these situations. You can also use alternatives to self-harm such as hitting a pillow or drawing on your skin.

Although you can use these methods to help yourself, it is very important to consider professional help. Professional help will ensure you get the right treatment for you, as well as work through any other issues you’re having which may be causing you to self-harm. Usually Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is recommended for people who self-harm. During a CBT session you would talk about your thoughts and feelings and how they affect your behaviour and your wellbeing. Evidence does suggest that these treatments can be effective in the long-term for those who have self-harmed.

It is okay to talk about self-harm. Reach out, help is available, and you can find support from many different places. Recovery is a journey that you can take.

Why are People with Schizoaffective Disorder Impossible to Get On With? – Hold Up

After looking at demographics of my blogs traffic, I noticed that the most used search term which led people to my blog was “why are people with schizoaffective disorder impossible to get on with other people”. This angered me for a lot of reasons, the main one being that regardless of who you are, what type of person you are, and the things you’ve done, if you have schizoaffective disorder, you are apparently ‘impossible’ to get along with. Which is outrageous.

I have schizoaffective disorder, am I impossible to get along with? No. I have many friends with schizoaffective disorder, are they impossible to get along with? No. Some of the best people I have met on this planet have schizoaffective disorder, are they impossible to get along with? No.

Whether you suffer from a mental illness or not is not the basis of a friendship. I have both neurotypical and neurodivergent friends, as do many people, whether they know it or not. That’s another thing about mental illness, the majority of us hide it so well you would never know that we are mentally ill, so why does your ability to get along with us change once you find out we do have a mental illness? Stigma. That’s it.

When most people hear the word schizophrenic, schizoaffective, bipolar, or any other plethora of mental illnesses, they immediately react with fear. This fear is based on a lack of understanding and the stigma that surrounds mental illness that is constantly around us. If mental illness is mentioned within the media, it is most likely because a tragedy has occurred in which the perpetrator suffered from a mental illness, which the media will choose to blame.  If mental illness is mentioned within the media, it is most likely a film about a psychopathic killer in which the killer suffers from a mental illness. We rarely see any positivity about mental illness in the media or any other aspect of our lives, and this is where stigma comes from.

It is certainly a misconception that those who suffer from mental illness are violent, dangerous or any other negative adjective that you would like to choose. There are both good and bad individuals that suffer from a mental illness, that are both good and bad individuals that do not suffer from a mental illness.

Stigma provides a biased, incorrect view of mental health that influences an awful amount of people. It is important to educate people about mental health so these sort of beliefs and behaviour do not occur.

Your future best friend, soul mate, parent or any other member of your family could fall victim to a mental illness. This is not how you would want them to be treated, you do not want to miss on possibly the best friendships or relationships of your life because of the stigma surrounding mental illness. Educate yourself, educate others. It should be perfectly acceptable to talk about mental health openly, mental illness is an illness, nothing more, nothing less. You do not get treated differently due to physical illness, you do not have people assume what type of person you are because of a physical illness, and people do not assume you are impossible to get along with because of a physical illness; stop treating people differently simply because they suffer from a mental illness. We are human, you are human, let’s act like it.

The Mental Health Community: Reach Out

I have wanted to write this article for quite some time as I really do believe that the mental health community has been of more support and help to myself than anything else, and it really does deserve to receive this recognition.

The mental health community is full of many wonderful people from a diverse range of backgrounds and lifestyles, collectively providing support across all areas of mental health. With more people speaking about mental health, we are able to eradicate stigma and help those who need it, as well as ourselves; which is the reason I became involved with the mental health community. I have never felt so welcomed or comfortable in any other community, as I have found that we all stick together and use our experiences to better ourselves and show others that there is hope out there, and that there is a better life. Supporting and helping others is without a doubt what saved me, and I’ll always be in debt to the mental health community for this, I owe these people my life, and that is why they will always have my time and support. The importance of this is that I’m not the only one who feels this way, the community is filled with people exactly like me, and that is why it’s such a wonderful place to be.

The mental health community is constantly supporting each other, even with our own struggles we continue to help others, in turn helping everyone within the community. I have never witnessed any negativity or cruelty within the community, I have only witnessed compassion, sensitivity, and kindness. Everyone within the mental health community is fighting to end stigma, which makes the mental health community a place that is stigma free. The mental health community is a place to reach out to others without the risk of being judged or penalized for your illness, you will receive no stigma here. The more people talk about mental health the more understanding can be gained, both within and out of the mental health community.

When reaching out to the mental health community, there are many magnificent campaigns to become involved with. These campaigns not only aim to provide help for each and every person they are trying to reach out to, but also to those within the campaigns. Two campaigns which I wholeheartedly support are #imnotashamed and #sicknotweak, both helped me dramatically; if you want to get involved with either, be sure to check them out on Twitter.

There are many bloggers within the mental health community, which is what sparked off some of the greatest friendships I’ve ever had, as well as allowing me to meet some of the best people I’ve ever met. Blogging is a great tool within mental health for many reasons which I will go over in another article some time, but from the perspective of the mental health community, bloggers can provide invaluable support with their experiences and their openness about them. You’ll also find that bloggers support bloggers, just like every other aspect within the mental health community, support is both given and received.

The mental health community truly is one big family. If you’re suffering alone, you no longer need to, we are here, and we are here for each and every one of you.