Mistaken Media (stigma)

For today's post, I'll be focusing on stigma again. Recently in class there are a few things about mental health which have come up and which I feel need addressing.

1. Schizophrenia - I feel I need to reiterate again, as it was mentioned in my ethics class, that the media portrayal of schizophrenia is not the true portrayal of the majority of those with the condition; it is not a horror movie. The campaign Time To Change addresses this in more detail, in this video. Rethink has also written a Q&A on dispelling the myths, here.

2. Medication - Many presume that those on medication are those with mental illnesses such as schizophrenia. However, there are many out there that are on medication for things such as anxiety and depression too. Medication can help a range of mental illnesses and it may surprize you how many people have been or are on medication to help with their condition.

3. Types - There are so many different types of mental illness out there, such as anxiety, depression, OCD, health anxiety, manic depression, GAD and so forth alongside those which are often portrayed in the media. Often anxiety is disregarded and sometimes depression is too. It's important to reiterate that all are mental illnesses. They all can require counselling, medication and other methods to improve. 

4. Stereotypes - Again, the media is painting a negative image of mental illnesses. Those who go to institutions are not thrown into the back of a van in a straight jacket never to be let out again. Firstly, there are many people that are going to school and work that have a mental illness. Secondly, those who go to mental institutions, are often there voluntarily and if not, aren't taken in a straight jacket. 

5. One in four of us - mental illness is common. 1/4 people in any one year will become mentally ill. Highly likely the person you're sat next to may have a mental illness that they aren't speaking about. Your friend could have a mental illness and you not even know. Don't forget to ask them how they are now and then; it all helps. People are very good at hiding it, but it can be just as destructive as a physical illness.

It appears that the media has a massive influence on the view we have on mental illness and this is why it is so great that there are campaigns such as that of Time To Change. The media often portrays blood, guts and gore and people in straight jackets. This is not the case. It's also important to remember that those with mental illnesses are more likely to victimised by violent crime than be violent themselves. Please, spread the word and dispel the myths; you'll even be fighting the stigma if you share this post. Perhaps this image will be 'food for thought'?



Best Wishes,
Amy xx

My work experience

If you told me that this time last year,  I was to undertake work experience for a couple of days, I would have been extremely resistant to the idea. I would have almost completely ruled the idea out. 

A year has passed since then, and I thought it was important for university that I get some sort of work experience. I emailed many law firms asking for work experience and fortunately one firm had the ability to take students on.

After a few emails, I had to have a phone interview. I was extremely anxious about the idea, as I still hadn't and still am struggling with talking on the phone. However, I did my research and prepared for the interview and it seemed to work as I got the placement. Us anxiety sufferers always have the "what if" inside of our heads and this is often why we say no to many opportunities. But, I just thought to myself I could die tomorrow, so now is the time. I always reminded myself that I don't have to go along with it too. The phone interview went well and I managed to answer the questions. It just reinforces the point that what you imagine will happen, often won't happen. You think it will be worse than it actually is; which is definitely how I felt in my case. Secondly, it seems we all really underestimate ourselves. We often see ourselves as worse off than we actually are. You will surprise yourself at what you and your mind are capable of.

I'm surprised at how quickly February has come around! I wasn't as anxious as I thought I would be. It's a lot different from school in terms of my anxiety; I wasn't as anxious, even though my anxiety did creep in a little bit throughout the day.  I used my breathing techniques a lot and reminded myself that I could leave if I needed to. I also used a lot of logical thinking to understand why I was feeling sick etc. 

The two days were really useful and provided me with a lot of information to further a possible future career. The other students were all lovely and it was nice to meet people interested in the same subject area. I have to say, it was really beneficial and I really enjoyed it. It was something completely out of my comfort zone and it has lifted my mood. Knowing I have achieved something and doing something I never would dream of doing, is a great sense of accomplishment. 

For a while, I just had to throw caution to the wind and take the last opportunity. There was a lot of doubt in my mind, but I just had to go for it. I know some of you may be reading this and thinking there is no way I would ever do that. Don't worry, your time will come around. I was like that once, and I do still have my hesitations. You will get there and achieve what you want to do. Just keep going, because it's astonishing how life can turn things upside down and change things from the worse to the better in a matter of days.

If there's anything to learn from this, it's to grab the opportunity. I know that to this day, I won't partake in every opportunity as my anxiety can be overwhelming. I also know that many of you may not feel ready to undertake any extra opportunities. But if there's even a slight possibility that you want to give it a go, do so. It won't be half as bad as you think and it will be great exposure to hopefully learn from and overcome your anxiety. Secondly, I think in today's society we talk ourselves down, saying we're not as good and often perceive ourselves so, which is rarely the case. All of the times you've gotten through something you thought you never would and have done better than you've thought, all show you are better than you perceive. Again remember "you have the same rights as anyone else to be on this planet".

I hope you've enjoyed reading.
Best wishes!
Amy xx

My will

I was recently having a conversation about all of the things I wanted to do; all of the sports I wanted to try, the professions I wanted to work for, the people I wanted to meet. All of this has a common command word - 'I wish'.

I had never really taken any notice as to the words I was using when talking about the many things I wanted to accomplish, but it is very important. I've noted how many things I've wanted to do, but never really tried even though I have the capability to do so. I often hear myself saying; "I'm not musical, so I can't learn an instrument" amongst other things. It has taken other people to tell me, that it will take practice to learn and you can do it if you work hard at it. It is possible.

Instead, what I have to change it to, is 'I will'. I am fully capable to give kick boxing a go, or see my favourite artist live in concert. It's all about just going for it and giving it a try, or else you'll never know. In connection with my previous posts, there is so much that life has to offer and there is only so long we all have that we can experience it. For me, by using 'I wish'; I'm just thinking that I'll do it when I'm older or when I feel more confident. But the truth is, no one knows what's round the corner and no one knows what is guaranteed, so it's time for all of us to change 'I wish' to 'I WILL'. I'm not saying it's going to be easy; especially for us anxiety sufferers, but a time will come when you feel you can go for it.

Some of you may be reading this and thinking how 'naive' that we have the opportunity to do whatever we want in life. Of course, there will be difficulties in the way, but if you don't use your time wisely then the time will use you. "Time waits for no man". I know life can be rough, tough and horrible, but that doesn't excuse the possibility of accomplishing something you've always wanted to do. 

Why don't you start by writing a sort of bucket list and begin to do the things you've always wanted to; or work towards them?



Good luck!
Amy Xx

Exposure

Hello everyone! Today's post is going to be focused on the good ol' anxiety. 

Since we've been born, people have always told us to face our fears. Of course, this is easier said than done. For some, this will be skydiving and for others it could be to go swimming. Often, these fears don't tend to get in the way of everyday life, but for others they do. People with anxiety tend to have an increased severity and number of fears which they battle on a daily basis. This could be anything from catching public transport, to asking for something. As many of you may have read, my biggest anxiety trigger is school.

If you've had counselling or therapy; which I strongly advise you do if you haven't already (it's a god send) You will probably know of something called CBT (cognitive behavioural therapy) which exposes you to things that provoke your fears and anxiety. For me, I had to create a hierarchy of fears or things which provoked my anxiety. This went from 1 - 21; from the easiest to the hardest. 

CBT takes a lot of willpower and this is often why people find it doesn't work. On the other hand, not every method is going to work for every person. Personally, CBT is the best way to overcome anxiety, as you are facing the things that make you the most anxious. The more you do the things that make you anxious, the lower your anxiety levels will become until you have little to no problem with anxiety. For example; I used to get a panic attack every time I tried to catch a bus. Through CBT, I was made to catch a bus 4 times with friends and 4 times by myself. It was extremely hard, but after completing this I grew in confidence and now have little to no troubles in catching a bus. However, as many of you anxiety sufferers know, you can have blips. This happened with me and so I had to have another go at catching buses again before I could move up the hierarchy. Now, I am at the top of the hierarchy and although I'm tackling the things that affect my life the most, it shows how much CBT has helped me through my anxiety.

I'm not saying it's going to be easy, because the thoughts and the fears you have can be so controlling and overpowering that you may find that you cannot tackle a certain situation at the present time. However, if you give it a try; no matter how big or little, you have achieved. For example, after missing school for a number of weeks, I tried some sort of CBT to get me back to school. I first started and got half way to school, and as the days went by I managed to get school. However, it did take me a number of weeks to get here, so try not to beat yourself up if you cannot tackle a fear straight away.

Best Wishes.
Amy Xx



The Liebster Award...



Hello guys! today's post is about the Liebster award that I have been nominated for by Leah from Keep Calm & Say yes - Thank you!

The rules:
  • Link back to the person that nominated you & answer the 11 questions which they have asked you on their blog post.
  • Choose 11 people to nominate for the Liebster award and let them know that they have been nominated. But you can't choose the person who nominated you!
  • Ask your chosen 11 nominees questions.
  • Add the Liebster award badge to your blog.
Leah's 11 Questions:
1. What inspired you start your blog?
I have always enjoyed blogging and writing. However, when I began to suffer with anxiety I felt really alone. I decided to start a blog to share my stories and help others and so far I'm really enjoying it.
2. Do you know any other languages?
Yes, I am currently studying German at A-level, so I know a fair bit of German although I wouldn't say that I'm an expert in any way!
3. If you could travel to anywhere right now, where would you go?
I'd quite like to go to America.
4. Do you have any pets?
No, unfortunately not.
5. What colour is your bedroom?
Blue and cream.
6. Favourite type of music?
I like all music, ranging from classical to rock and from the 1920's to now. I'm quite a big fan of electronica music and acoustic.
7. Last book you read?
I think I began to read the 'Fault in our stars' by John Green. I've only read the first chapter so far.
8. Last holiday you went on or do you have any planned?
Last year I went to Gran Canaria, but no holidays planned this year.
9.Would you describe yourself as laid back or energetic? 
That's difficult. I can be quite lazy, but I do enjoy sports and meeting friends. I'm not laidback with school work; I can be quite a worrier.
10. Favourite outfit you own and where is it from?
That's really difficult; it depends what mood I'm in. I suppose it would have to be a pair of black jeans (New Look), a chiffon top (River Island), boots (Amazon) and my tartan coat (Jane Norman). Something along those lines!
11. Favourite season?
Definitely Summer because it's (supposedly) warm, however I really love Christmas. Summer overall though.

My 11 questions for my nominees:
1. Favourite quote?
2. Favourite band/artist?
3. One of the nicest/best things that someone has said to you?
4. Your favourite upbeat happy song or your favourite sad song?
5. Favourite place you've visited?
6. A life lesson to share?
7. Something you would change in the world?
8. If you could meet anyone in the world, dead/alive, who would it be?
9. The thing that makes you happiest/keep positive?
10. Favourite sport & do you have any awards?
11. Best piece of advice to give to someone suffering with or trying to understand mental health issues?

I am nominating:
1. A Whole lot of chitty Chat
2. Kimi & Me
3. The Hopeful Hummingbird
4. Calm Kitchen
5. Ellen's OCD blog
6. Chloe has a Moustache
7.  Helena Loves
8. Finding Positives
9. Laura Lou Rambles With You
10.  Amy J Walters
11. Spotty sunflowers

Don't forget to contact me once you've answered your questions!

Best Wishes,
Amy Xx

Time to change


Today is time to change's first time to talk day. Today, millions of people across the country and across the world will be making their first conversation about their mental health.

Time to change is an organisation which is battling to reduce the stigma around mental health. They hold events, have media campaigns and anyone can get involved.

Many people are holding events with organisations, or are just doing their bit to spread the word and dispel myths.

I am very proud that we have come to a stage where we can talk about mental health much more openly, even if there is still a bit of a taboo around it.

Just think, one conversation can change someone's life and have a positive knock on effect to others. 
If you haven't done so already, grab a cup of tea, or go and get your jacket and go to the park; try to talk, text, draw, write - whatever you can. I'm not saying its easy, because it's not, but today is a day to try and start a conversation for better mental health. I hope that this will be the beginning of the end of the stigma against mental health.


As I've mentioned, talking is the most important thing to get onto the road to recovery. Talking about your mental health, doesn't just have to be today either. Talking about it can be any day, and any time, as well as the time to change campaign. You can volunteer, share your story and write a pledge.

Congratulations to everyone that has spoken or tried to speak about their mental health today. Let's keep the ball rolling.

Best wishes,
Amy xx



Fear of failure

For as long as I can remember, I've strived to be perfect. This can be used to my advantage because it makes me do things to a higher standard and work my socks off, but on the other hand it can drive you to insanity. 

Sometimes, It results in me not feeling as if I have the ability to tackle certain situations. I guess this is where some of my anxiety lies. I get extremely anxious at the thought I might do something wrong. It's not healthy, as doubt and fear are the biggest killers of ambition. Rather than run from fear, try and embrace it!

What you and I must understand is that no one is perfect, as much as we like to think we could be or feel people are. We all make mistakes and it's just part of nature. And when we do make a mistake or 'fail' then we feel awful. I guess this is why I've been so obsessive over grades. Unfortunately, failure is inevitable and something you can run from, but will probably catch you up. The important thing is, is to ensure you keep going. 

As I've grown older, the bigger the world has gotten and the things that once seemed so important, aren't so. I now know grades aren't the end - nevertheless I will still strive for perfection to ensure I do well. As I've grown, the power of failure has lessened, but still has a strong presence. It is something that I must learn to accept is going to happen.  However, it's still important to try your best at whatever you do. 

This fear of failure is getting in the way of me living my life, such as taking my driving test. I mustn't avoid the situation, but I must tackle it head on. So, let's all try and do something we fear we may fail at. Try your best, and see where it gets you. Highly likely, you will do well. Failure will happen in life, and you cannot live a life without it.



Best Wishes,
Amy Xx