World Mental Health Day 2016

So another World Mental Health Day has almost passed us by but it’s so positive to see this day receiving the attention that it does.

Traditionally, Mental health is ignored or at best avoided in the public eye, with only scaremongering stories finding our front pages. But there appears to have been a cultural shift in recent years – and this I think is largely to Celebrity culture.

Allow me to explain. Stephen Fry and Ruby Wax to name but 2 huge advocates for mental health issues have talked openly about their difficulties and the challenges they continue to face. The modern public is enthralled by celebrity, and in this case is a great thing. It has helped find a level of acceptance and understanding, people are seemingly more open to discussion now.

We’ve come a long way but there is still plenty of ground to be broken. If we all open ourselves up to the idea that we can all struggle at times. What may seem minor to one person can be a huge issue for the next. But the worry is – “what do i say?” 

What do you say? You listen. You be there. In that moment for your friend or loved one. Just being there, is the start if acceptance. Having a mental health problem is not a sign of weakness, its often the curse of being too strong for too long. Please. I beg you. If you struggle, speak out. Take that 1st step. I believe in you.

I’ve had my fair share of issues over the last 15 years or so but I’m on the mend, though that would suggest i am/was broken. I have managed to build myself up to a place where i feel confident enough to say when things are getting tough. But when the going getting tough, the tough ask for help.

Please. Speak out. Reach out. Don’t act out. Be there. Smile, hug and love one another


Give me Therapy

So. I’ve been thinking about how Americans talk about seeing their therapist or psychiatrist as openly as we talk about going for a pint. Feel this is another stigma I want to chat about.

After a tough couple of months, I’ve started seeing a new therapist. I think i’m now in double figures for them so I get a feeling for how useful it will be. 

After years of battling, beating and re-battling depression I have developed anxiety. I didn’t even notice. I began worrying that I had nothing to worry about. So rather than let my own mental health drag me down again, I sought help at the first possible juncture.

Anxiety is new to me. From my first session I felt immediately better. Knowing I needed to open myself up to the process. For this I needed to be honest and open. It felt good to let all this worry out. 

With the combination of medication and 3 sessions in I can feel a palpable change. It feels easy to talk about being back in therapy, but why won’t people talk about it? Is it still too British to admit defeat? To say we are struggling? 

It’s time to change. Talk. Have a cup of tea with an old friend. Be there. Be present. Be strong.

Drip Drop…

Ever heard the analogy about stress and beer? Well if not, it goes something like this – imagine your store of a stress is an empty beer barrel. The more stress we experience, it drips into our barrel and unless we let some stress out then it spills out everywhere – and no one likes spilt beer.

With this in mind recently i’ve been going through a fair amount of stress like many people do on a daily basis but ive been imagining that beer barrel getting pretty full this past few weeks. Dripping away like a leaking tap.

The awareness is key here. Knowing that im getting stressed and not enjoying that feeling – i know some people who say they never get stressed, well i envy you.

Having an outlet, being able to pour some beer out before it over flows and causes a health and safety issue is paramount. But what can you do? How do you prevent things from reaching crisis point where theres beer everywhere?

Some turn to alcohol. Which is a depressant, which can make you feel worse. But whatever works for you works for you. There is no prescription for what you can do. I personally love video games. I like to immerse myself in another world for a little while and calm my over active brain down.

I also depend on my family. They are everything to me. I have a daughter. A little tiny (sort of) one that depends on me. I can have a terrible day. The worst. Stressed up to 11. Within 5 minutes its forgotten.


There are so many things that have helped me on my journey through depression, relapse and recovery. Expressing myself through doodling and art helps.

Take some time for yourself. Tell people your struggling. Speak out. This week marks the start of Mental Health Awareness week. Be aware. Have conversations. Break down stigma. Stigma’s most powerful weapon is itself. If we no longer fear talking about depression and mental health wecare taking huge steps as a society.

Its time to change. Check out this link and be part of something incredible.

Time to Change

The Drugs Don’t Work – Or do they?


For various reasons I stopped my medication a few weeks ago and I could almost feel the serotonin dropping put of my system.

Ive been on and off various medications for my moods over the years with varying degrees of success and side effects – some bearable, some completely unbearable.

So, I’ve recently re-started my anti-depressants and had what is known as a rebound effect – not as fun as it sounds. Basically my mood has dropped significantly to the point where wearing the “normal me” mask is exhausting. I find myself either wanting to sleep or stay up all night, starve or eat everything, laugh or more likely cry.

But things are beginning to feel normal again, so the medication must do something. It keeps me on a relatively even keel even when the stresses of life get to me. But its my friends and family that keep me, me.

I’m hearing so many more conversations about mental health now which also encourages me. I know I’m not alone in my struggle and I would welcome anyone who needs to talk to have a coffee (or tea) with a loved one and talk. Failing that, drop me a line and let’s talk.

You are stronger than your depression, and by sharing the burden, you make it weaker and easier to beat.

We can do this.

Stig(ma) that in your pipe

Times they are a changing, that’s what Bob Dylan said, and when it comes to mental health awareness he’s right.

So long the taboo subject of society, mental health has reported in the media would have you believing that every diagnosed person is ready to kill you or themselves. This is quite clearly not the case, but fear-mongering sells papers.

The tides are shifting towards real movement and acceptance, groups such as the ‘Semi colon project’ have provided a creative output for those of us who have felt that they are out of options. Indeed this year BAFTA have recognised a mental health documentary – ‘life after suicide’ – incredible viewing by the way – for shortlisting.

If you are struggling or know someone who is, talk. Talk to someone. Tell them whats going on. Since opening up about my mental health, I’ve found nothing but supportive voices expressing my bravery. Im not brave. Im scared of moths. Im not even close to brave. I just want to write, talk and listen. I want to help others have these difficult conversations which will enable small changes inhow they are feeling.

The power is in your hands. You can carry on to shun those who are different or those we do not understand. But we cannot continue to shy away from mental health issues.

This is everybodys business and we should all be involved. Get involved. I challenge you to have a cuppa and a chat about mental health.

What happens might just surprise you.

If I could just find the time


It’s been a while but I’m feeling rather reflective this evening. Probably a side effect of forgetting to order repeat prescriptions and being just a bit too busy to sort it out.

I can feel a difference and it’s not a good one. Keeping up a facade. Keeping the happy mask on. It’s tough. It’s exhausting. It’s no wonder I’m always tired.

I can feel my irritability levels increasing. I need to sort myself out. Follow my own advice. I can see myself snapping. The plus side to not having adequate levels of medication on board have given me a lot of vivid dreams, as my brain comes to terms with itself and the chemistry going on in there.

Trying to remain chirpy over the last few weeks when under immense pressure in a few aspects of life has been the hardest. I know I can control this black dog that is increasingly haunting my being. I can beat this. I can recover.

If history has taught me anything, it’s that I can be dealt a terrible deck, and still manoeuvre my way through life with the right support around me. I have it within me. I just need to believe.

Sleepless in St.Martin

I’ve been here before, that old familiar feeling. Nothing keeping me awake apart from myself.

Since I started back on Anti-Depressants, the side effects have begun to kick in. My appetite is still somewhat diminished, which is disconcerting because I’ve always enjoyed food. But when it’s presented in front of me, I feel I need to eat it, not because of hunger more out of necessity. But the main side effect that has always kicked me when I’m down, is sleep. Or lack there of.

I work hard, I try to do a lot of sport, other commitments permitting of course. Thus I should be tired. I can usually just decide, ‘right, that’s enough, sleep now’, and within 10 minutes or so, I’m out for the count, for the night. But not now, it’s as if my sleep cycle has been turned upside down. I feel physically tired, but my mind seems to have other plans. I’m not sat thinking about things either, I’m just not able to fall asleep.

At the moment, I’m tending to just, lie there. This leaves me exhausted the next day, and exhaustion can only last so long surely before I give in? Not in my case. I have been surviving on a few hours sleep, and the sleep that I have had has been interrupted, and again taking a long time to drop back off to sleep. So from having so very little sleep over the course of a few days, with only minimal food inside me, I become grouchy and irritable.

Irritability is one of the most difficult aspects for me to control. One of the main signs of a relapse into depression for me, is irritability. So knowing this, has made me seek the help I need. But then when the help causes further irritability, where does one turn? I feel irritable, I’m down. I don’t sleep, I feel irritable. So I can become a lot shorter with people, snap something at someone, which in turn then makes me feel worse because I’m not a fan of upsetting others. It’s a vicious circle.

I know that this will pass once the medication builds up in my system, but until then I find myself having to bite my tongue or taking a brief moment to gather my thoughts and not react as I would usually. This is a story that has plagued me over the years, and as I have alluded to earlier, has ruined parts of my life.

I know that this is a long road that I need amble down again, but the support that I’m receiving from all around me makes everything seem a lot rosier. I’m still taking one day at a time, and sometimes I’m still guilty of throwing a happy face on a sad day, but it’s just one of my ways of coping. If there are other people reading this, that are worried about having “that” conversation, and opening up about how much they are struggling, I would encourage anyone to speak out. Because suffering in silence does not make you a better person. It will hurt you twice as much in the long run.

Depression is a terrible illness, it can strike you down at any time. But taking these early steps I think will help me in the long term. I am so determined not to let this drag me back to where I have been before, it’s not pleasant. I won’t let it happen.

If you aren’t sure what it feels like to be depressed, then I would suggest giving this video a watch. It puts words to very difficult emotions, and sums up a lot of what I’m going through.