Mental health in the work place? Taboo? Or truth?

Mental health: it’s just as important to maintain as our physical health. So why is it that we’re still terrified to tick the ‘disability’ box on a job application? 

Would you tell your soon-to-be employer that you suffer from a mental illness that may affect your work? Or would you just hide? Hide behind that mask you’ve been wearing for so many years. 

Yes, to be or not to be? That is, indeed, the question.

I recently told my new employer that I would be absent one day this month to partake in medical research. A research intended for past sufferers of depression. That’s right, I’ve donated myself to science. I’ve become an official human guinea pig. And what for? To pay rent, obviously :/ 

Anyway, long story short; I didn’t think about the stigma, I just spat the words out as if we were talking about how my weekend was. Then there was a spark of tension, as if to say, “oh gosh, I’m sorry to hear that you… Er.. You?”. But to be honest, it felt liberating to say that I had suffered. And I now have a summer job- result!

So why is mental health discriminated in the work place so much?

I can only think of a few reasons why. The first being, ’cause I’m mental’. 

As soon as you mention the D word, I’m avoided like a homeless person begging for sympathy. And that’s exactly it, I don’t want sympathy. I want compassion. I want people to understand it’s nothing out of the ordinary. We’re not psychopaths plotting to fly a plane into the Bermuda Triangle, we’re normal people who have much a right to work as everyone else.

People think that having a mental health condition affects your ability to work. Obviously this is true to a certain degree, but what affects us the most is being discriminated against.

But…

What is the cure for aiding this god-ridden taboo of a subject? Personally, I believe telling people in a way they can understand. Throw in a joke (just so they think we are ‘normal’) and smile like you mean it. Amen. 

The importance of keeping up appearances

Keeping up appearances, for me, keeps the mind healthy. Call me materialistic, but doesn’t saving up for that pair of shoes or dress that you’ve had your eye on for weeks, keep you motivated to work? Or, say that you’ve always wanted to be a blonde but you’ve shyed away from the idea because you might look ‘different’. Either way; paying attention to your outer self could help you heal some wounds in your inner self. 

Fashion keeps me motivated and makes me feel good about myself when I buy something I like. I used to want to be a model, I tried to become one by going to London -and all that jazz- but I don’t agree in the whole negative impact the industry depicts of women’s body sizes. Yes, apparently I needed to maintain a pre-pubescent figure and just not grow any hips at all. But hey, I’m now proud to say I have 39 inch hips.

Anyway, this is about you so let’s get to it…

Why is it so important to take care of your image?

It’s all part of the ‘taking care of yourself’ process. Once people start noticing the small changes (or major, in case you did decide to go blonde) you’ll start to feel noticed and this will impact the way you value yourself. 

There’s nothing worse than thinking “I’m worthless, people will never look at me”. If your inner self is beautiful then there’s no reason to think that your outer self doesn’t need tending to as well!

What I’m NOT trying to say is…

-Go out there and live a consumerists dream

-Looks are everything and people only value the person that you ‘look’ like

-spend all your money on clothes! 

-Become someone who you’re not (in terms of looks too)

-Act like you’re okay in front of people when you’re crying inside

 

^ a random picture which reflects my current happy mood. 

4 things to know before you stop taking antidepressants 

As a bid to lead a happier life I’ve decided to quit the happy pills. Ironic, isn’t it? I’ve been feeding my brain with a serotonin feast, and I’m just about sick of relying on these pills in order to lead a happier, depression-free life.

I’m not saying that they don’t work, at first they are a god send! But after nearly two years of being on sertraline (Zoloft) I’m ready to flush the SSRI’s out of my system and make room for the real me.

Here are some golden rules (which I’ve only just discovered myself!)…

1) The doctor is (usually) always right.

Never stop taking antidepressants without telling your doctor 

This could heighten the risk of suicide or self-harming.

The doctor will also put you on the right path by either lowering your dosage or switching you to another medication for the time being.

For me, missing just one day will cause severe ‘brain zaps’ leaving me disoriented and unfit for everyday routines.

2) Ask yourself: are you ready to stop taking antidepressants?

Do you feel you are physiologically dependant on your antidepressants or that you can live without them? 

You will know when you are ready. You won’t feel scared, or frightened to stop. You’ll feel a sense of clarity, that you’re happy enough without them.

I’m sick of feeling numb and not like myself at times, I want to be the person people enjoy being around. I’m happy, so I know the journey will have a light at the end of this all.

3) Tell your friends

Your friends are there to support you, so keep them informed and they might be able to help. 

Friends are the best medicine.

4) Research the withdrawal symptoms of your antidepressants

Some can be short term and others stay in your system for longer.

Antidepressants such as Prozac (fluoxetine) stay in your system for much longer than sertraline, making it sometimes easier to wean off them.

sertraline

I wish everyone the best of luck!

How to beat the January blues

How is everyone?

I hope Christmas was as merry as possible and that your post-party selves are suffering only mild effects of alcohol binging.

Try not to neglect yourself this month. You have to keep moving forward and not backwards in this January struggle.

But how?

Well, if you think the fun has to stop after the 25th of December, you are wrong.

I was pondering on the idea of a holiday, or just a spontaneous city break this February. I found myself sifting through the Expedia sale in the early hours of New Years Eve. I’ve always wanted to go to California, but how would I afford it? I’m skint! I calculated the cost and I only had meagre £50 and a student overdraft. But then I realised my student loan would be coming through in two weeks and all I knew that if I booked a holiday I would feel so much better. I have something BIG to look forward to. So I booked a two week holiday, in June to Los Angeles, ‘the city of angels’.

I’m absolutely dirt poor, living-off-30p-noodles-broke and I don’t have a worry in the world because I’m going to Cali!!!

I know I’m crazy, and I know it’s not the best advice to book something you can’t afford. But, I will tell you this: plan something that keeps you moving forward into to future.

Christmas isn’t over, the fun isn’t over.
It’s just begun.

Lib Dems: On reforming mental health services for young people

Reforming young people’s mental health services is a crucial mission for us in delivering a fairer society

Liberal Democrat Care and Support Minister Norman Lamb writes about the work he is doing in government to reform mental health care services for children and young people.

“Imagine for a minute you are a teenager, perhaps working hard for your a-level exams, struggling with relationships and all the social and academic pressures of school.  And on top of this, you might be among the 1 in 10 of your peers suffering from depression, an eating disorder, or another mental health problem.

key_young_person.jpg

“But if mental health services are the “Cinderella service” of our NHS, Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are the Cinderella Service of Cinderella Services.  Effective support for a young person experiencing a mental health problem can have a transformative effect on the course of their entire life.  But the current CAMHS system too often is woefully inadequate.

“Earlier this year, I launched a CAMHS Task Force involving experts in the field, and also young people who have experience of mental health problems themselves.  The Task Force will look at how we can modernise children’s mental health service, making the best use of the resources available, and reforming services to end the “cliff edge” which occurs when young people move from under-18 care to adult services. It will look at how we can improve access – including through the use of exciting new online services – and how we can reduce the stigma of mental health services.

“The Health Select Committee has just published a new report which reinforces my view that the current service model is failing to give vulnerable young people the support they need.  They highlighted a range of areas where services are sometimes completely unacceptable.

“We are already tackling the unacceptable practice of holding some young people with severe mental ill-health in a police cell as a “place of safety”.  Local services like the NHS and the Police in each part of the country have now been asked to sign up to new standards for mental health crisis treatment.  A key requirement is to end the use of police cells for children with mental health problems.  As Liberal Democrats we can be incredibly proud that we are leading the fight to end this outrageous practice. In every part of the country, we should challenge services which fail to act.

“And the programme to increase access to talking therapies for children and young people, to replace, wherever possible, the practice of using drugs to control young people’s behaviour, has now reached the point where services are covering 60% of the 0-19 population.

“But this is just the start in delivering the improvements needed to CAMHS.  And we have to recognise that, in too many areas, local authorities and clinical commissioning groups have cut funding for children’s mental health services.

“I will be working closely with the Task Force over the coming months as they explore ways of improving the current system.  And I am determined to see their recommendations put into practice so we make sure young people receive the support they need.

“There are few things more distressing to see than a young person whose childhood has been scarred because they didn’t get the support they needed for a mental health condition.  This can go on to impact on the entire course of someone’s life if their education and social development is damaged.  Reforming young people’s mental health services is a crucial mission for us in delivering a fairer society, where everyone has the opportunity to live the life they choose.  And it is happening because of Liberal Democrats in government.”

I feel that young mental health sufferers are less inclined to use any services to begin with, unless we treat the mental health sector as important as physical health services.

What do you think?

Step Two explained: Stop thinking about what people think.

The number one rule for ignoring what people think, is to ignore your surroundings.

Now, imagine yourself in an empty room.

There are no people. There are no faces. There are absolutely no worries.
Just concentrate on something else, such as a car.
You don’t care what the car is thinking, you don’t care whether or not the car likes you or not, are you? (Don’t worry, I seriously doubt that the Peugeot 206 you’ve been staring at for the past two minutes is going to re-enact a scene from Transformers)

Oh, and you should acknowledge some of your surroundings, otherwise you might become victim to a car accident.

The reality is, people don’t analyse you nearly as much as you analyse yourself. Depending on what anxiety or depression you have (I have partial social anxiety) caring what people think when you walk in the room or become the centre of attention is quite a big deal. So, rather than observing, think of something else. It could be, what you’re having for lunch or whether or not you should ask out your love interest.

To summarise,
don’t care about what the people around you think, care about what you think.