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Posts Tagged ‘health’

 

I travelled up to the North East of England recently to see my wife’s parents. My wife (Laura) had travelled up a few days earlier, so I made the journey up in our car on my own. It reminded me when we were first dating & she was studying in Sunderland, whereas I was working in Liverpool. I’ve got fond memories of our long distance relationship. More so, considering most people seem to believe they don’t work.

I realised back then I hadn’t yet been diagnosed with any mental illness. So although I had suffered from, at least depression, I was blissfully unaware that was what it was. I never knew what I wanted to do, work-wise, back then, but I was confident I could turn my hand to most things. So I suppose my outlook was ‘the world is my oyster’ kind of thing. After just six months since I left Uni I had paid off my credit card debt on only £150 a week wage. I was confident I’d soon be in a job where I’d be earning at least the national average. At which point I would then start making repayments on my student loans. Meh, I never got there (there being the national average wage) in the end, but hey-ho that’s life.

It got me thinking of those ‘sliding doors’ moments in all our lives, where you think what if… My what if, is how would my life be different if I didn’t have a mental illness.

I know a lot of people say ‘I don’t believe in regrets. Everything in life has made me who I am today’. Which is fine, but come on, most of us have done something we regret & if we could change it we would. Personally I think it’s fine to have regrets, but the important thing is not to dwell & stew over them. It’s the past, you can’t change it so what’s the point.

What are your ‘What if’ moment?

 

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I’ve been pretty busy lately with one thing or another, but something I really wanted to get a post out about is Faces of Mental Illness.

I’ve been working with Laura SQ from Mrs Bipolarity & Laura P. Schulman from  Bipolar For Life, on creating the real faces of mental illness. Initially it was in reaction to Brian Williams’ stigmatising negative comments on mental illness. He stated of Ariel Castro, who held three Cleveland women captive for a decade was the face of mental illness. So, here we have an NBC Anchorman claiming this repugnant man is the face for people who suffer from all manner of mental illnesses. Such comments from a public figure can only do harm to any organisations out there trying to educate people & reduce the stigma around mental health.

As mentioned, this was originally what prompted the two Laura’s & I to start Faces Of Mental Illness. However, I’d like it to continue & evolve to show how people who have mental illness are more than the illness itself.

We have created YouTube, Facebook & Twitter pages, all entitled The Face Of Mental Health.

Youtube – Faces of Mental Illness

Facebook – Faces of Mental Illness

Twitter – Faces of Mental Illness

Please show your support by doing any of the following…send us a vlog to mentalfaces1@gmail.com. We’ll upload it to the Youtube page & share it to Facebook & Twitter. Don’t worry if you’re unable to do this. I know I wouldn’t have felt comfortable doing this a year or so ago. But please visit the pages & have a look at what we’re doing. If you like what you see please comment or like the respective pages. If you do want to show support, please share the pages on your own Facebook, Twitter & Youtube pages

Any suggestions or feedback would be greatly appreciated.

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Mrs Bipolarity recently wrote a post called Stigma Sucks Sunday: A Recap. Basically it’s about negative stigma spoken by people in the public eye. It got me thinking of ways we can make a change. So I’ve done a brief vlog inspired by one Mrs Bipolarity’s comments from her post above.

If you feel able, please follow suit & do your own brief vlog supporting the real faces of mental illness.

 

 

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BBC Three are currently airing a mental health season & last night ‘Diaries Of A Broken Mind’ was on. It focuses on 25 people chronicling their lives via a handheld camera. It was very insightful, as it literally gives you an inside view of people lives with various mental health issues.

As many of you will know I have bipolar…umm for those that don’t…eyes up to the top of the page…hear that? Yep a few pennies dropped right there 😉 Sorry I went of on a tangent there. So I have bipolar, but what this season of mental health programmes is giving me, is a wealth of information & knowledge on other mental health disorders out there.

Have a look at the episode I watched last night. I noticed the uploader’s comment on YouTube mentioned he’d received copyright infringement due to the music content in the programme. So if you can’t access this by the time you try let me know & I’ll change the link.

Let me know what you think?

I appreciate it’s a long documentary, so if you don’t have the time just click to 12mins in & watch until 13:30. This was my favourite part of the docmentary. Partly because of the amazing piece of music in the background, but also because it encompasses really well the stigma we face around mental health in just 1min 30secs.

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It’s coming to the end of my temporary rolling contract & my mind keeps looping to ‘What if I lose my job?’. I’m fairly confident that it will be renewed, as we’re well into the summer holiday season & there is plenty of work right now.

That said, the worry is still lingering at the back of my mind, mainly because this job seems to work with my bipolar really well. As a postman, I get daily exercise, a mix of cycling & walking for four hours each day. I also get to work outdoors enjoying plenty of fresh air & interacting with the public. So if I do lose my job I think I’ll struggle to find one that helps with the bipolar side of things.

Soooo it came as a nice surprise yesterday, when the subject of my contract renewal came up at work. Now my manager isn’t one for words of encouragement, so when he said ‘Well you haven’t got any worse’, I thought, steady on boss let’s not go all out on the praise here :). To be fair he also said I’d gotten better & was performing my rounds quicker. I still didn’t get confirmation I’ll be getting a new three month contract, but the positive feedback was…well…positive 🙂

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I read this post explaining why people with bipolar may live quietly with it for so long, due to the stigma associated with it.. It also lists areas of our lives that bipolar can affect.

The post is Not An Island, from bi[polar] curious.

I’ve pasted below the post in case the link doesn’t work for you.

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Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about why I lived silently with bipolar disorder for as long as I did.

There was, of course, the terror that people would reject me…

Or that, even worse, they would want to bar me from doing the things that I loved.

As much as that fear was an integral part of my silence, there was something else that I think played a larger role.

I didn’t think bipolar disorder, or the inner workings of my brain anyway, was affecting my life in any significant way. Especially when I was in more stable periods.

I thought of myself as an island, and the only parts that would be effected would be the ones that knew about this hidden illness.

Of course, I was one hundred percent wrong. My mood swings were affecting everyone around me, and were effecting my own life in a very significant way.

I’ve been attending a peer recovery class the last few weeks and early on we made a list of the ways mental illness affects our lives.

It can affect

  • our relationships (with friends, family, co-workers, etc)
  • our ability to work (for better (hypomania) or worse)
  • our ability to complete schooling (at practically any level)
  • our housing situation
  • our financial situation (both via working and due to medical costs)
  • our physical health (depending on how well we can take care of ourselves)
  • our ability to take care of others (children, pets, etc)
  • our spiritual lives

And I’m sure there are more that I’m forgetting! Looking at this list really made me aware of how many aspects of my life are affected by bipolar disorder, not just work and relationships. I know that I’ve experienced every single one of the things on this list, and not in a minute way.

I think that only after being open and honest about what I experience could I get the help that I needed in all of these aspects of life. The result? Though these areas are all affected, I am able to lead a more stable life.

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I’ve just read a top notch article, by Bipolar Babe, titled Mental Health In The Workplace.

I’ve also pasted the article below in case the link above doesn’t work for all.

Let me know what you think of the article?

 

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Mental Health in the Workplace

23may2013

Mental Health in the Workplace

 

I recently wrote a BLOG for my other place of employment: The BC Government, so I thought I would share it with you.

Mental health in the workplace has been an emerging trend toward discussing the topic more freely than ever before. Having been diagnosed with bipolar disorder for the past 10 years, I have experienced both stigma and compassion in the workplace, which partially led me into the non-profit work that I do today. Currently, I facilitate support groups for people affected by a mental health condition and conduct presentations on my personal story in the schools to youth, community organizations and in the workplace. Why do I do this work? I feel it is so important that we approach mental health in an open manner leading us to have conversations free of stigma. Ideally, we ought to live in a world where an employee is not ashamed to disclose the fact that they have a mental illness. It is vital to be able to acknowledge it, because, as I have personally found, it can negatively affect my work, attendance, and even my behavior. Over the years I have had to advocate for myself and now I have an accommodating and positive work environment. This is by no means an easy task because the fear of disclosing remains daunting; however, if my mental health condition is not supported by my employer, then I would simply not want to be employed with their organization.

There are some positive and exciting developments that are taking place for mental health in the workplace, such as the recent Not Myself Today campaign that is supported by partners for mental health in BC. The idea is to wear a badge in the workplace about how you are feeling. Maybe you’re feeling okay – or maybe you’re not yourself today. They propose that the more open we are about how we feel, the more we create a culture of acceptance and support for mental health.

There have been some amazing strides taking place in the private sector that perhaps our government employer could learn from. For instance, Deloitte has installed a black dog statue at its London office as a symbol of commitment to support the mental health and well-being of staff via the Black Dog campaign. The company also has a group of mental health champions who have been trained to have a conversation with an employee who feels that he or she may have a mental illness. This approach is brilliant! Having to face the black dog every day at work reminds employees to be cognizant of their mental health in the workplace and to talk about it!

You may have heard of the Mental Health Commission of Canada (MHCC), and wondered what it does? The MHCC has led the development of a voluntary National Standard for Psychological Health and Safety in the workplace and developed recommendations to support increased employment among people living with a mental health problem and illness. It released an action guide to help employers improve the psychological health of their organization and provided guidelines that encourage executive leadership to commit to making mental health in their workplace a priority.

I am hopeful that all employees in our government workplace will encourage this type of mental health action and awareness. Don’t be afraid to say how you are really feeling or to be understanding of the person who may be struggling with a mental health condition. Everybody wants to know that their fellow co-workers care about their mental health. If someone is absent for suspected mental health reasons, don’t tip toe around them, but instead ask them how they are doing upon their return and express your openness as a fellow co-worker that you are willing to listen. When you break the silence, it is more likely that the situation won’t become stigmatized.

What are you doing to create a workplace of empathy and acceptance for all employees and yourself in the workplace? Or what do you think should be done?

 

 

 

 

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