PLEASE NOTE: THE FOLLOWING BLOG WAS WRITTEN BY ME (MEL BONTHUYS) FOR 'THIS IS MY BRAVE' AND APPEARED ON THEIR SITE ON 8 DECEMBER 2017
Mental illness is a compulsive liar!
It never shuts up, and seems to thrive on making a person feel as hopeless and worthless as they possibly can, and quite frankly, you don't need the added 'voice' of mental illness screaming atrocities at you when you are already struggling so much with constant mental pain and added physical symptoms.
Of course it doesn't help that there is an awful stigma associated with mental illness, and when a person is in the frame of mind that they are in with mental illness, it can be extremely hard to break free from the constant lies that you are hearing - and believing not only inside your head but in and around in society as well.
As someone who has suffered with severe anxiety and panic disorder, I am going to outline some common ways that mental illness, in particular, anxiety, lies to you.
1) You are crazy and insane and they going to lock you away in a mental institution!
The voice of my anxiety screamed this at me every single day, to the point whereby I had started to conjure up images of myself in a mental hospital, in seclusion, secured in a strait jacket!
The sad thing is for a while, I really did believe this little lie, and if you are believing it as well, please don't. With all the campaigns and awareness that is being created for mental illness, it is been proven that many people struggle with mental illness, and it by no means, means that you are insane!
One in four people struggle with mental illness at some point in their life, and this figure makes us see just how common it really is.
Try to think about it logically - you are not a criminal and it isn't a crime to suffer with mental illness!
2) You are going to feel like this for the rest of your life!
Without a doubt one of the most difficult of lies to brush off. Believe me, I completely understand how believable this lie is!
But please, if me saying this to you is the only thing you have right now, please take it from me - someone who had anxiety disorder so severe that I cannot even put it into words. Please believe me when I say you to that you can and you will get better.
There are such a wide variety of treatments available, and there is one out there waiting for you! Trust me - you do not have to live like this!
3) You are worthless and will never amount to anything in life!
Ouch! This lie made me cry at times, because I truly believed it!
However, I can stick my tongue out at my anxiety disorder and say 'You lied to me' because I have achieved so much! I am the happiest I've ever been in my life. I work for myself, I get to help others with their anxiety, I wrote and published my book, I'm happily married and I love life - if that doesn't equal success and worth then I don't know what does!
One of the first rules of recovery is to believe that you deserve to feel good again - and you do!
You deserve all the happiness and prosperity that life wants to give you!
Each person is on this earth for a reason, and you must believe that!
4) Everyone you love will cut you out their life!
While I cannot guarantee that everyone in your life will understand, I can tell you that you most definitely will not be alone because if someone loves and cares for you, they will want to help you and support you through this. Yes, there are those people who choose to be very ignorant on the subject of mental health, and perhaps will run for the nearest exit door, but know it's probably for the better, as people who are recovering from mental illness need strong support structures.
My boyfriend at the time is now my husband, and didn't let my anxiety disorder get in the way! The right people will love you for who you are, and they won't let you go through this alone, and the people that do cut you out are extremely ignorant and misinformed and they don't deserve to have your friendship. Always remember that mental illness does not define you as a person.
If you are one of those people who doesn't have anyone to turn to, please phone one of the many helplines or join up a support group. You are never alone in your struggle - ever!!!!
5) Your fears are real and will come true!
Speaking purely from an anxiety sufferers point of view here, I can say that anxiety disorders are centered around either irrationality or not knowing what you are anxious or fearful about.
This is tough because your fears, whether they are unknown or highly irrational are very real to you, and no one really understands what it feels like to fear something so unrealistic that it's laughable! It's even worse if you are one of those anxiety sufferers who doesn't even know what they are even fearful about.
For me, the way I dealt with my irrational fears was in two ways: firstly, I didn't expose myself directly to anything that would trigger the fear off, such as watching movies that portrayed my fear. Secondly, a good way to challenge fears in general is to tell yourself the worst possible scenario that could happen but make it as completely ridiculous as you can.
Say for example you have a fear of a dog biting you.
You could say something like this: I am scared that if a dog bites me, I will not get efficient treatment and then I will get gangrene and my bitten leg will fall off, and then everyone I know will reject me!
It's silly stuff but it works! There is something about telling yourself the worst possible thing that could happen that jolts the mind into realizing just how unrealistic it is - although yes, a dog biting you is indeed rational, but the scenario that follows is not!
It's described as a 'hug in a box' and lets face it, who wouldn't want to receive a box of goodies to cheer themselves up on days where depression, anxiety and stress are really giving you a hard time?
This is what the Buddy Box subscription is.
It's a box full of items, treats and goodies designed to help someone struggling with mental illness to feel a little bit more comfortable and to let them know that someone is thinking of them. The boxes come from an organization known as The Blurt Foundation, who are known for their work with mainly depression, but as an anxiety sufferer, I can safely say, I think these boxes would be a source of comfort to anyone struggling with any kind of mental illness.
To learn more about the buddy box system, please click here.
The Blurt Foundation very kindly sent me a complementary box in exchange for a review, and honestly, I was not disappointed, especially when I saw that the box I had received, had their very recent book 'The Self Care Project' inside.
I have included a video below, which shows me unboxing the Buddy Box, and I show you all the items inside. If you don't want to watch the video, then read on to see some photographs and a bit of commentary on the items:
1. Socks and Foot Balm
2. Space Mask
I thoroughly enjoyed this!
When you open up the packet, the masks starts to heat up - so don't open it unless you are going to use it. However, it also contains jasmine flowers, so you get a lovely jasmine scent while you sleep.
3. Self Care Merchandise
It's all about self care at The Blurt Foundation, and this is a small badge and a card with a Self Care quote on it to remind yourself to also put yourself and your recovery first.
4. The Self Care Project Book
I was so excited to see this included in my box.
Written by Jayne Hardy, the founder and CEO of The Blurt Foundation, this book is all about practicing self care and the importance of making time for yourself!
5. The Blurt Zine mini magazine
Please be aware that if you wish to sign up for the Buddy Box Subscription, the items in the box will change on a month to month basis.
Some other goodies which have been included in previous boxes include:
- Body Lotions
- Colouring Books
In conclusion...would I recommend the Buddy Box? Absolutely! I think it's a wonderful thing that people can subscribe to when they need a little extra love and care in their lives, especially when suffering with mental illness!
To see more about what The Blurt Foundation does and to order a Buddy Box, please click here.
Disclaimer: I was not paid to write this blog post or to make the video. I was sent a complementary Buddy Box in exchange for an honest review.
To view the video, just click below:
Mental health is a hot topic of late.
More people are speaking out of their experiences with mental health issues and lending their voice to try and reduce stigma associated with having a mental illness, but while the stigma of mental illness is being tackled and hopefully being somewhat reduced, there seems to be a new stigma that is now being thrown around, and that is taking medication for mental illness!
Currently one in four people are struggling with a mental health related issue. To put it in a different perspective, a rough estimate of 450 million people worldwide are struggling with mental illness, but struggling even more so, with the concern and fear of getting labelled things such as being a ‘hypochondriac’ or being told they are weak, all because of ignorance surrounding mental health. However, the biggest label of all comes when they decide to seek help for it and that ‘help’ comes in the form of medication.
The pharmaceutical industry is a billion dollar industry. In fact, in the UK in 2016, an increase of 3.7 million more types of anti - depressants were prescribed than what they were in 2015! However, this does beg a question or two: is this a bad thing because Doctors seem to be prescribing anti - depressants like candy, or is this a good thing in the sense that more people are getting the courage to seek help for their mental illnesses?
While your family doctor may be the first point of contact for your mental health related issues, and while most of the time, they do very often prescribe medication as a quick fix, many people think that medication should be a last resort, or, if actually, even considered at all. After all, we are talking about very potent scheduled drugs with nasty side effects which in all honesty shouldn’t be used for long term treatment.
The main argument is that while medication masks the symptoms that come along with mental illness, they only treat the surface of mental illness and don’t treat the core underlying issues - in other words they don’t treat the cause of the illness, often leaving major withdrawal symptoms after dosage decrease and sometimes leading back to square one.
However, on the other side of the coin, if you have ever suffered with a mental illness, you’ll know how you’d do almost anything to have just one day when you are not accompanied by an array of debilitating physical and mental symptoms. Some people are so in the grips of mental despair that they simply don’t have the energy or the strength to search other options, and would rather take this ‘quick fix’ just to try and ease their mental pain.
I am one of those people! I completely understand what it feels like to feel so hopeless! So, I do get a bit defensive when people shout out all the time as to how drugs don’t work, and they only make you feel worse, and my personal favourite ‘medication is not the answer’
Well, I beg to differ because in my case, medication actually was the answer and if it hadn’t been for that medication, I probably would not be sitting here writing this! However, this does not mean I am pushing the ‘medication’ route for everyone, nor do I favour medication in place of natural alternatives, because when it comes to all things natural and alternative – believe me, I am in, I am on your side, and I’m the first to the party! I am simply sharing with you what I did when I was in the midst of a crippling anxiety disorder.
You also have to remember that mental health awareness and social media were not very prominent back when I was at my worst. So, I have to ask myself, with all the experience and knowledge that I have gained throughout my 17 years of being a sufferer of anxiety, would I have changed anything looking back? Yes, probably, I would have. For starters, I would have been able to see that I was not alone in my struggle by seeing all the awareness for mental health that is being created through social media. I would have had the strength to research all my options, and I probably would’ve sought help a lot sooner before my anxiety disorder got so bad that I was contemplating suicide. Would I still have opted for the conventional medication route? Honestly, I don’t know, maybe so. However, with what I know now, and with all different therapies, treatments and remedies that we have at our disposal, who knows, maybe I wouldn't have.
Natural, alternative, conventional, complementary, traditional and integrative medicine all have their place in this world, and all deserve equal recognition and consideration. Some people are swearing by things like change in diet and lifestyle, some people praise therapies like CBT or alternative therapy like hypnotism. Some people swear by rescue remedy, and some people are happy with conventional medication and have no side effects.
I myself take a complementary approach to my recovery from anxiety disorder, meaning I make use of both conventional and natural medicine. I started on a heavy dosage of conventional medication (I was a really severe case) which got me going on the road to recovery- so to speak. I then ever so slowly withdrew and withdrew, and currently, remain on a small dosage at night. To date, I have withdrawn from about 80% of my medication and have completely stopped one of my medications.
As I got stronger, I was able to help myself more – to start looking into other forms of treatment, and from a natural and holistic side of things, I changed my diet and lifestyle and started taking rescue remedy as a substitute as I withdrew from the conventional medication. I do meditations regularly, which have helped me so much, and I also swear by Rhonda Byrnes teachings which have changed my life drastically – which in turn have had a very positive effect on my anxiety and my thought patterns.
Being a person who does favour the natural way, my goal is to one day be off all conventional medication, but for now I am doing very well on my current complementary treatment program, and I see no shame in that!
I don’t believe that conventional medication is a cure for mental illness, nor do I think it should be used for long term treatment, but I do believe that sometimes, depending on the person, the right medication can act as a valuable resource in getting the person onto the road to recovery, and bullying people if they opt for this route in treatment of mental illness needs to stop!
Sometimes when a person is so deep in the clutches of mental pain and exhaustion and they simply can’t help themselves, especially if they are suicidal, medication may be the thing that might just save their life - is that such a bad thing?!
Perhaps we need to start understanding that everyone is different and it comes back to the simple thing of ‘what works for one person may not necessarily work for the next’
Treatment of mental illness, provided that it is done in a controlled and supervised manner and under the care of a professional, whatever the route taken, should never be judged or mocked, but rather a celebration of the fact that another person has decided that they want to get better and live their life free of mental illness!
NHS prescribed record number of antidepressants last year
Have you ever heard someone say "Oh my gosh - that was so satisfying to watch" or better yet, have you ever experienced a warm tingle down your spine - kind of like goose bumps?
If you have, then you have experienced ASMR.
ASMR stands for Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response and has been recently become quite popular.
On YouTube there are millions of videos about it, and you may have even seen people in these videos either whispering or making soft light repetitive sounds that are pleasing to the senses, such as tapping or scratching a surface.
People who experience ASMR will say that they feel a light prickly or tingling sensation on their head, back of their neck or sometimes other parts of their body. For me personally, I feel it mostly in my upper arms. The experience of ASMR brings about feelings of happiness, positivity and peace.
There are two sensations brought about by ASMR:
Physical sensations which include chills, tingles, prickles and goose bumps.
Psychological sensations which include feelings of relaxation, calmness and even sleepiness.
ASMR is unfortunately not scientifically proven as of yet, and there is not much research on it either. In fact, only one study has been done on it to date, so all we have to go on is individuals swearing by using it to help them relieve their stress and just helping them to feel happy and more euphoric in general.
Examples of ASMR: (not limited to)
- A soft voice
- A song
- Having your hair played with
- Water being poured into a cup
- Fingers lightly scratching a surface
- Being touched on your skin
- Watching and hearing someone play with slime
- Paper crumpling or a packet being crinkled
- Food being cooked - the sight of the food and the sounds of the cooking
- Tapping sounds
There are so many ways that an AMSR reaction could be triggered in someone, but those are a few of the more common ones.
The sad thing about ASMR is not everyone can actually feel it.
Some people have reported feeling it throughout their lives, and when first finding out about AMSR, they knew immediately what it was, they could relate to it, feeling happy that there was now a name to put to the sensations they were feeling.
If you are one of these people who hasn't felt it, don't despair - it could still happen for you.
I recommend watching one of the many ASMR videos on YouTube.
They range from people whispering, to making deliberate noises like soft cracking noises, and paper scrunching. Some people even get an ASMR response from watching recipe videos where they can hear the packets being opened and the oil frying.
My favourite ones are the slime videos - they are extremely satisfying!
Since ASMR brings about feelings of calm and happiness, it is no surprise that it would be amazing for anxiety sufferers.
ASMR has been said to help with Anxiety, Depression, Insomnia, Mood, and even improved blood flow and digestion.
It may take a while for you to find what triggers your ASMR, but once you have found it, you can use it as and when you need to.
If you enjoy meditation and find visualization easy, you could even incorporate ASMR into this practice by either listening to an ASMR sound that you like or else purely visualizing something which brings on the sensations of ASMR.
Please read through the following links for a better understanding and please watch the numerous videos available on YouTube to find your perfect ASMR triggers!