Guest Post – Mark

I have followed Mark for a long time on twitter and he is someone I have great respect for! I was delighted when he agreed to write a post for my blog and I hope you enjoy this as much as I have.

Music is helping Mark in is recovery and you will be pleased to know I have added his songs to the blog below.

This post may be triggering for some as it talks about suicide so please be careful if this subject may be too much for you… now over to Mark

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My story starts on Oct 17th 2001. The day my life changed forever.  I was working as a musician and working for a production company. I also ran 4 performing art schools for children. That day was a normal working day for me another gig another show. During that day we were on the road driving towards the venue when I was involved in a severe road traffic accident. I was a passenger and we were hit by a drunk driver coming round the corner at high-speed. That’s the moment the lights went out and one life ended and another life began. People were killed but I ended up in hospital seriously injured.  So began a long dark journey. I suffered broken bones and a brain injury. After months of recovery it became very apparent that I was not the same anymore. Headway got involved and so began the long slow process of starting life again and trying to recover only now it was different.  I suffered a frontal lobe brain injury. My emotions and everything about my personality had changed. I also found I couldn’t do what I used to do so on that day I had my life stolen from me. Another way of putting it is I was raped of my life. Months went into years and years. I was diagnosed with clinical depression PTSD and borderline personality disorder.

During the following years I attempted to take my own life on several occasions.  From taking overdoses to standing on a train track waiting for a train to come. The train didnt come. Once I was allowed to drive again I also drove to the lake district and took another overdose but some how I was found by the police and was rushed to hospital. We lost our house our cars are savings and most of what we owned .During this time I spent a lot of time inside an acute psychiatric hospital on a secure ward . I did not want to live any more because my life had ended as I saw it , I couldn’t earn the money I was earning and I couldn’t look after my family. My family went through hell my wife wanted to leave me and my children needed counselling. Such was the damage on our lives. During this time I was given a CPN called Kelly Perkins . She turned out to be an angel a saviour . I now owe my life to her. Along with many talking therapies  CBT and others. She along with Lyn Atkins another angel from headway kept us together as a family. Without their help we would not be together today.
Another problem I encountered was the lack of understanding from some family members. Often stigma is very close to home and  on one occasion drove me to another suicide attempt.

In 2010 we decided that the best thing we could do was to move to try and start again as everything around us reminded us of our old life. We moved from Bedfordshire to Dorset.  We settled into a quiet life by the sea. This was the first time I was trying to live a new life with some hope. Sadly during the spring of 2013 I suffered a relapse and ended back inside an acute ward. I was again suffering extreme anxiety depression and suicide thoughts again.
During my stay I found an old guitar and for some reason I started to play a bit again. This resulted in my wife bringing in my guitar.  I now found I had words and songs pouring out of me so I started to write and write.

During this time I had also started to become aware of Dorset Mental Health Forum. Somehow through my recovery this time I found a new purpose and that was that I had a passion for mental health issues and all the songs I was writing was about my lived experience , I had found a new voice and so I started to talk more openly about it. I was on a new meds regime and these were starting to work. I then found myself having meetings with Dorset Mental Health Forum. This led to me getting involved with something called Tea and Talking in conjunction with Time To Change leading to becoming a peer specialist for the forum now I had found a new purpose in life and that was to spread the message of recovery and to tackle stigma. I have been recording all the new material which is now nearly finished and will be available soon. Recently I was inspired to write a song for the Time to Talk campaign which I have done. I have also been asked to write a song for Blue Apple Hero’s about PTSD .
My passion and focus is now on raising awareness and sending out a message through music and speaking that recovery is possible even from the darkest place. I will live with what I have for the rest of my life but thanks to some great people and of course my wife who has suffered greatly  and family I move on to a new life, one that is wanting to see and help others who suffer . That’s my lived experience and I share it in the hope that it brings you hope.

Mark Storey

Mark can be found on twitter here

If you would like to submit a post for this blog please get in touch with me via twitter/facebook or email using the contact page

Guest Post – Dawn

This post is not about depression stats or the links found between growing up in dysfunction and
an individual’s potential to be depressed. I don’t know about you but I don’t need a university
study to tell me that depression is tragic.
I know it is because, like you, I live with it everyday.
Depression is my baseline.
So, in this post I am taking a different approach. Today, I’m doing some riffing and bitching on
depression. That’s right I’m talking some major trash!
Below, I’ve put together a list of the 10 things that I can’t stand about this beast.
1) Depression sucks every last bit of life out of you. Am I right? I’m talking down to the
quantum level. It has more suction power than a Dyson & a Dirt Devil combined.
2) It does not come with an instruction manual.
3) There are no magic wand solutions or 10 easy steps that you can implement to be happy and
depression free.
4) It makes me dread the most beautiful, sunshiny days. Why can’t it just rain when I am
depressed?
5) It makes time stand completely still when all you want is the day to be over. Hopefully,
tomorrow will be better.
6) Medication – You go on medication to feel better but the side effects from the medication
make you sick. So now you are depressed and sick.
7) It’s fickle. You are either:
• tired or you can’t sleep
• stuffing your face or you can’t eat
• lonely as hell but don’t want to be around people
8) It makes it impossible to “get it up.” To get excited, get involved, get outside, get out of bed
or get in the shower. Unfortunately, there is no Viagra for depression.
9) It’s all pervasive, it rattles every last corner of your life.
10) And finally, you know I saved the best for last, the things that you could do to feel better
when you are depressed are the exact things you will not do because you are depressed. Try
being around other people when you don’t even have it in you to brush your teeth.
I am frustrated and I feel discouraged. I just want to understand. I do my best to reel myself in
when I feel that mood coming on but I am often defeated. I promise myself that no matter what
happens the next time I get depressed I will force myself to be happy. Maybe if I buy the right
magazine or read the right book or write a long enough gratitude list? Maybe if I switch
medications or run for 2 hours on the treadmill I will just sweat the mood out. I don’t know,
whatever it is that will cure this little bug eating away at my brain, I haven’t found it yet. Until I
do, I will keep riffing and bitching.

Dawn writes her own blog Growing up Chaotic which can be found here

she can be found on twitter here

Guest Post – Mary

We Have to Stop Now

I have been diagnosed with Treatment Resistant Major Depression (plus other things). Recently I was in therapy & my therapist was looking through my file for a court document from when I first started therapy. She found it, read it to me and while doing so she mentioned the date on the document-2006. 2006?!?!?! Are you kidding me?!? I’ve been in therapy for 7+ years?!?!?!? What is wrong with me? Why can’t I get it together? Why can’t I be normal? Why does the past haunt me 24/7? Will it ever stop?

These are just some of the thoughts that ran through my head. Am I better off now then I was in 2006? Well, yes, for the past 7 years I have had someone to talk to twice a week. Someone who actually listens, respects me, believes me and says they care about me. When I say “talk” I mean deep, hurtful, powerful feelings and memories. It is hard work. After 7 years, have I talked about everything that happened to me in my life that has contributed to my current state of mind? The answer is no. 7 years and no, there is still baggage that I am too afraid to talk about, or say out loud. It is choking me and making me feel and act crazy and want to die. I am grateful that the community outreach center that I go to for therapy has been letting me come twice a week. Still, there never seems to be enough time. I go to therapy wanting to talk about things that have happened during the past few days, feelings, memories, thoughts and dreams. The time always seems to go by so quickly. Before I know it I hear “We have to stop now.” I hate hearing those words.

It brings me back to reality and reminds me that I am just another crazy, depressed person. There are many other clients that need to be seen, that need help too. It reminds me that the person I am talking to is getting paid to listen and talk to me. It reminds me that I have no one in my life that cares. It reminds me of my loneliness and that I don’t really matter to anyone.

At a recent session I wanted to talk about some horrifying nightmares (some events that actually happened-not dreams, but flashbacks that happen while I am sleeping) that I am having about my father. Before I started I asked if we still had time for me to do this. The answer was yes. I was shaking as I talked about the events and was scared to talk about them. I couldn’t look at my therapist, I felt embarrassed, mortified and humiliated. When I was finished. I heard “we have to stop now“. It was such an emotional let down. I just finished spilling my guts about something that is upsetting me. Something that I was extremely anxious to say out loud.

There was no time to talk about the nightmares, my feelings about them, my extreme anxiety and the panic I feel every night when I go to sleep. I felt left in limbo. I left the office feeling very upset, anxious and feeling sort of ‘out of my body’. As I was getting in my car my mind was reeling, confused as to what just happened. I was not upset with my therapist, she was just doing her job, time was up and she probably had another client waiting. This is what I mean by there never being enough time. It’s no ones fault, that is just they way things work. It probably would have helped if I had a friend to call, but I don’t have any friends. Instead I ended up collapsing in tears when I got home. The nightmares and flashbacks in my sleep continue. I am afraid to sleep. I am afraid of having intense flash backs. I don’t want to sound selfish. I am so grateful for my therapist and the community outreach center I go to.

Everyone there has been kind and generous to me. They have taken me to family court, social services, doctor appointments, etc. Anytime I need someone to go some place with me, my therapist is there to help. The kindness that has been shown to me is something that is a rarity in my life. I am grateful for the kindness and everything the center and staff have done for me.

I am responsible for my current state of mind and not being able to communicate what’s in my head. After all, I’ve had 7 years. The situation feels hopeless, there is nothing anyone can do and there is no “magic” pill that will erase the years of abuse, neglect and torture that I have been though and am still going through. I feel powerless over the memories that constantly play back in my head, the flash backs, the nightmares, my inability to control them, to be normal, the excruciating emotional pain that never stops, the voices in my head that tell me over and over what a bad person I am, and the constant thoughts of death.

I am still here, but what’s the point when you feel hopeless, worthless, useless, sad (really sad), crazy, alone, empty inside, agitated, angry, upset all the time, anxious, panicky, afraid, scared, different from everyone else, not normal and your mind constantly telling you that you are not needed and you bother people and it would be better if you just disappeared. I can’t take it anymore. I try telling my mind that we have to stop now. Stop all the voices, the flash backs and fear, but it doesn’t work. My depression has me in a very dark place and I have been fighting to get out for a long time. I am tired of fighting, of not being understood, not being able to find the words to express what’s in my head. I am tired of being so lonely. I’m tired of being starved for something as simple as a hug and wishing someone would tell me that everything is going to be ok, that I just need more time. So I am asking whoever is reading this – is it time to stop now?

 

Mary is available on twitter here

Guest Post – Sarah

I am constantly being asked what caused my depression. I wish it was as simple as finding a “cause”. As most people with depression know, it’s a brain thing; my GP said that my brain misfired a bit and it will eventually repair itself. I like that, it makes the guilt that I am not “ fully functioning” a lot less painful.

I had a hard time in work in 2010, did that cause my depression? Probably not, it didn’t help that’s for sure but I doubt it was the cause.

I got divorced in 2011, did that cause it? Again, probably not; when you’re already depressed which my ex reckons I was for years then everything that ends up being less than good makes it worse. Bit by bit, your depression takes you over, you don’t notice it but it’s there like the drips that cause stalactites and stalagmites.

After my divorce, my life changed. Not just because I no longer had a husband but because I only had to look after myself and my cat. No one would moan at me if things didn’t get done, I only had myself to blame and that was liberating. After the house was sold, I moved into a temporary apartment as it was just before Christmas and I hadn’t had a chance to do any flat hunting. While there, I made a drastic, some say brave, decision. I moved away from the area I had lived in for 10 years and relocated myself to a town where I only knew 2 people. It was a revelation, I have rented a little 1 bedroom flat with a garden and I finally feel settled. Sounds like I’m cured right? Wrong! I still struggle with the depression and every day at the moment is a struggle.

In the summer, I applied to study part time at the University of Kent, never believing for a moment that they would accept me but I was wrong. In September last year, I started my course, it lasts for 6 years but I don’t care, as long as I do as well as I can and graduate I will be happy.

Also in the summer I did something that I can only describe as crazy, I abseiled down my local church tower (100ft tall!) I hate heights, with a passion. I froze on the ladder on the way up the tower but was more scared of going down it than out onto the roof! After a lot of persuading I did it, I didn’t enjoy it and got told off for saying it to someone but I did it! I lived on that high for a few weeks.

So to cap all this off, in the last year or so, I have changed my life, partially because of necessity but mostly because I wanted to. I don’t want to be the person I was when I was with my ex, I need to get my confidence back and I need my brain to fix itself. Until that happens, I will cope, life will get tricky but I will see a way through it because I have to. Depression is not going to beat me, I can’t allow it to and I have to graduate in 2018 so nothing can stop me doing that. You hear that depression? You have been warned!

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Follow Sarah’s blog here or on twitter here

Guest Post – The Bipolar Biker

BPD. OCD. SH. PTSD. H

The above are just letters, yes? Meaningless to some, a mere jumble of random letters. Or a seriously shit hand if you’re playing Scrabble.

Bur what does it all mean?

Well, they all mean a lot to me. In fact, they define me.

I’ll give you a run down of what they all mean.

BPD – that’s the Bipolar Disorder that I live with. And when I say ‘I’, I mean me and the people who I live and work with. It’s not just hard to live with the feelings that come free with every bout of depression, but it’s hard for those that support and care for me.

BPD is mainly manic depression, which can control so much of my life. The manic highs ain’t what they’re cracked up to be.

Imagine a hyper active 3-year-old on the mother of all sugar rushes. Then imagine that 3-year-old as a 5’7″, 14 stone guy who knows how to look after himself and is pretty much unstoppable.. That’s what my partner has to put up with. It makes me do things that normal men my age wouldn’t think of doing.

When I’m on a manic high, I have a wicked sense of humour and (so it’s been said) a cheeky glint in my eye and I can be very confidant. Or overly confidant. I feel untouchable. Totally 100% invincible. And that’s when I put myself at risk or in harm’s way. All without realising it. It’s hard to explain, but trust me, it’s a damn sight harder to live with. Just ask my long-suffering partner.

And then there’s the flip side – the depression. Some people think that those who suffer with depression can ‘snap out of it’ or ‘pull ourselves together’. It’s not that easy.

There are days that just drag on, minute by minute, hour by hour. The days where I can’t move, I can’t think, I can’t ‘be’. Those are the dark days, the days full of self loathing and every breath, every movement is painful.

My skin feels like its paper-thin. Just a breeze can feel like razor cuts. It’s not a real pain, I know that, but during these times, it’s real enough. Even thinking hurts me. I can’t get motivated to even take care of everyday hygiene. I can’t shave. Looking in a mirror I see a waste of space, a failure, and I hate myself. I don’t mean a general ‘dislike’, I’m meaning pure, unadulterated hatred. And that hatred is for every part of me. My body, the way I look, the way I am.

I wish, as I’m sure a lot of people who suffer with depression, that there was just a happy medium. No depression. No mania. Just me. But, there are times when I think that would make me boring. Or maybe not……

Then there’s OCD – Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. Or, as I prefer to call it, CDO as it’s more ordered. Whilst I acknowledge that I’m lucky as I don’t have extreme OCD like some people, the small effects that I DO have are more than enough.

Some people find my OCD or bête noir amusing, and I suppose they are, but they can make life difficult for me. I can’t have melted chocolate near me AT ALL!!! I have to check locks on doors and windows at least 5 times. And even then, I’ve been known to tour round the house and re-check. Or drive back from a trip out to make sure the door is shut and secure.

Sounds funny, but it can really put the mockers on a day out or can lead to sleepless nights. Which can lead to other issues.

On to SH. That’s Self Harm. I self harm. Not just when I’m in the pits of depression, but also when I’m on a manic high. Self harm has had a bad press recently and for some sad reason seems to have become a fashion statement for ‘da yoof’ of today, but it’s not just the teenage girl in her room making tentative scratches on her arms that is the typical self harmer.

It’s not just cutting. I don’t cut. Every one of my fingers has been broken. My wrist has a hairline fracture that went unseen to. I hit things. It was mistaken for temper tantrums when I was younger. But it’s not a temper thing. It’s not an attention seeking thing. It’s a way to feel. Something. Anything.

Some times I just feel nothing. No feeling for anyone, anything or myself. So, the pain I feel reminds me that I’m alive. Kind of…. A negative feeling is better than no feeling. And the thing is, at the time, I don’t realise I’m doing it. I wake up with bruises or another finger dislocated.

So, how did I hide the bruising, the dislocations? Easy. I have an active job. I have done jobs that are very physical and so the bruising were ‘part of the job’.

The PTSD is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. This used to be called ‘Shell Shock’ during the First World War, and soldiers suffered from it because of the constant barrage of shells from the enemy. The soldiers who were afflicted by it couldn’t carry out their duties as a soldier and were therefore, treated as deserters and shot.

So what brings about PTSD? Naturally, I wasn’t under constant shelling from an enemy army. The clue is in the title. Post. Trauma.

During my life, I have suffered at the hands of others. And that has left some serious mental scarring. I have lived with this all my life, and until a bout of hypnotherapy, it remained locked away. It was almost as if it was a ghost memory, something that’s there, but nothing that I can recall.

It did, however, make me confused as to who and what I was. I went through my teenage years angry (or even more angry than the usual teen) and I never knew why. Nor did my parents.

Long story short, I felt my sexuality was questionable. And so I ‘experimented’ when I was 16 or so. Big mistake. I ended up getting attacked.

And who could I tell?

Not

A

Soul.

And so I lived with that and buried it deep inside. I have coping mechanisms that I put into place to ‘block’ bad things. But the thing is, they’re never really blocked. The memories just sit there and fester. And sometimes they come out with explosive results.

As did mine thanks to hypnotherapy. I still have nightmares about it. But, with support, I’m coping with it.

And there we go, dear reader.

Well…. almost. What about the ‘H’ I hear you ask?

Well that is simple.

The H is for Human.

Same as you, dear reader. I have my faults, and plenty of them. I know that. And I acknowledge it.

But, as we humans do, I have my good points too.

I said at the beginning of this post that these things define me. And they have.

Even with all my ‘issues’ I have lived a fruitful life. I have found love. I have found someone who I can talk to, someone I can share my deepest secrets with. I have felt the love that only having children can bring. I have served in the police force and served well. I’m able to hold down a job.

And for the most part, I have found understanding. But I have also found ignorance too. And I hope that the stigma that is attached to mental illness can be got rid of. I hope so. I really do.

A lot of people are surprised when I tell them that I have a mental illness. But its part of me. It IS me. But I’m not brave for talking about it. Far from it.

I’m just me. Just a whole lotta thoughts and a load of letters that are a rubbish Scrabble hand….

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Follow more from the Bipolar Biker at his blog here or connect with him on twitter here

Guest Post – Jess

When the moose made an open invitation for guest bloggers on twitter, I loved the idea of it but wasn’t entirely sure what I would write, and truthfully was a little nervous about what some of my mates that follow me on twitter may make of this. But hey ho, I’ve never been one to be ashamed of my depression, it makes me who I am.

 So, as my 21st birthday and 5 year anniversary of being diagnosed with depression, looms right around the corner, here is my very first blog about it.

 Looking back, the first signs something was wrong with me were in early 2006 – I remember going to watch my beloved Rotherham Utd away at local rivals Doncaster. After the match, I came home, got in bed and cried. I don’t know why, if I remember rightly we won the game so it definitely wasn’t because my team are shite! Moving on to the summer holidays that year, I found myself not wanting to go out with my mates, instead sitting at home in my room all day, and when it came to our family holiday, I had zero confidence in going down to the poolside with my mum and dad, or going swimming. Which is something I’ve always loved to do. I think I spent most of that two week holiday in our apartment.

 Fast forward to my GCSE years at school, attendance was low, as was my confidence, motivation and outlook on life. I was lucky enough to have a brilliant and supportive form tutor at school and was referred to the Student Support Mentors. Eventually, they took me out of my regular timetable, gave me a day a week at a local centre for kids, doing arts and crafts (that was the only thing I still found enjoyment in) to try and help me back to my old self.

 Year 11 soon came around, the summer holidays were spent pretty much the same as the previous years, so inevitably, my depression had got worse. Again, it was agreed that I would spend school hours in the Student Support room, the only place I felt safe. By now, my mates had pretty much given up on asking me to go out, who can blame them at that age, not knowing what was going on.

 Later that school year, my Student Support Mentors got in touch with my local Mind charity, and once a week a youth mental health worker would come into school and see me. The work Sandra did with me was brilliant, and helped me on my way to firstly getting diagnosed and then recovery. Whilst every other day of the week my mentors were having to come to my house to get me into school, I somehow always found the willpower to go into school for my session with Sandra.

 It wasnt until just before my exams started that I finally got diagnosed with depression, after one visit to a child psychiatrist I was put on the lowest dose of Fluoxetine possible. Things began to get better just in time for my exams. I came out with results better than I was expecting, providing I hadn’t been in an actual class for one and a half years. I owe that completely to my mentors at school and Sandra from Mind, without that none stop support, continuing to make me go to school, put hours aside to teach me themselves, I wouldn’t be where I am today. Sometimes I wonder if I woud have made it through at all.

 Right now, I’m 20 years old, still taking Fluoxtine daily (40mg now) and despite just last week calling my mental health worker to make an appointment to see her, I am overall happy and content. I’m currently studying to go to university and study Sports coaching and am coaching sports in special schools around my area. I hope to provide my own service helping people with mental health issues on a way to recovery through sport, but that is still a while away.

 In the past year, I’ve started to get back the enjoyment I used to feel from playing football and socialising, and as a result of that have made some good friends. They don’t know it, but they go a long way to helping the way I feel right now.

 This time last year, I was on the sick for 6 weeks, barely able to get out of bed. As I write this, apart from the odd day (which I have come to accept) I am the a happiest I have been for 5 years.

 If you’re struggling, please talk to someone. There’s always help out there, and remember – as much as it doesn’t feel like it now – it gets better.

Thanks for reading

Jess – @jesstemps92