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The Mental Health Advocates / Week #1

October 2, 2017

 

Welcome to my new series 'The Mental Health Advocates'!

 

Each week I will be publishing a blog post with profiles of 5 wonderful people, who have pledged to aid mental health awareness. With light-hearted questions and info, it's time to get to know the person behind the illness!

Sakinah (Karen) Kaiser

Aged 43

Maryland, USA

 

Twitter: @themuslimhippie

Instagram: @the.muslimhippie

Blog: patheos.com/blogs/themuslimhippie

 

I work primarily online to help erase the stigma attached to mental health issues and mental illness. I blog about my experiences with mental illness in order to help people understand what it is like to live with this and also to show how to help people with a mental illness. I am active on Twitter and Facebook as well, where I share information and articles related to various topics on mental illness. I advocate for mental health in general, but I also speak to minority communities where stigma may be more prevalent due to racial or cultural beliefs toward mental illness. My goal is to help people feel safe to seek help and to know they are not alone. I also work with parents of children with mental illness in my real life. 

 

My experience with mental illness started in college. I began having symptoms of bipolar disorder and anxiety during my freshman year, however I wasn't diagnosed until much later in life. I live with bipolar 1, anxiety, OCD, and ptsd. I blog about many issues connected with these diagnoses, and about my feelings related to being disabled.  

 

 

Favourite Movie: The Prince of Tides

Favourite TV Show: Law and Order SVU

Favourite Book: The Secret Garden

Favourite Artist/Band: Sade

Favourite Quote: "If you can keep your head while all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you..."

 

 

Give me one weird fact about you?

 

I cry at strange things like happy commercials or during action films 

 

What's the most embarrassing thing that's ever happened to you? 

 

Once, during my 1st year of college, a friend and I called an older student/mentor on 3-way. We left a message because he didn't pick up. We thought we we disconnected, and started gossiping about how we were secretly enamoured with this person. We didn't want anybody to know. We talked for 15 minutes until he called us in hysterics. His answering machine had recorded our entire chat! 

 

If you were stuck on a desert island, which 3 things would you bring? 

 

A book about surviving in remote places, a mechanical watch, a hammock

 

Which 5 people would you invite to a dinner party, dead or alive? 

 

Malcolm X, Lenny Kravitz, Demi Lovato, Carrie Fisher, Nina Simone

 

Fictional place I'd like to visit:

 

Wakanda 

 

Parting words:

 

Mental health and mental illness are very personal to someone living with any such condition. It's important to be true to yourself and find supports that uphold your values as a human being. My personal motto: no matter what happens in recovery, and despite any setbacks/mistakes, if I can still look at myself in the mirror and be proud of who I see, then I'm happy. This is my definition of living well with mental illness.  

 

Bex

Aged 26

Luton, UK

 

Blog: bexhelen.com

 

I have depression and anxiety and was recently diagnosed as having Borderline Personality Disorder. I blog about my experiences with mental illness and try to raise awareness & reduce the stigma through writing about it.

 

 

Favourite Movie: omg too many to choose! As a child it was 'Pocahontas'

Favourite TV show: Friends

Favourite Book: 'I'll Give You the Sun' by Jandy Nelson

Favourite Music Artist/Band: Muse

Favourite Quote: 'Courage, dear heart.' - C.S Lewis  

 

 

Give me one weird fact about you?

 

I don't know if it's weird but people are always surprised when I tell them I'm a brown belt in karate.

 

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

 

At uni, I ran up to my friend's chair in the library and kicked it as hard as I could. She turned around and it wasn't my friend. I still die a bit inside when I think about it!

 

If you were stuck on a desert island, what three things would you bring?

 

My iPod, my diary and a pen.

 

Which 5 people would you invite to a dinner party (dead or alive)?

 

My friend Myles, my Grandparents, Jandy Nelson, Laura Jane Williams and Hugh Jackman.

 

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic Sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a medal for?

 

Spending hours playing/obsessing over video games, reading or binging on Netflix.

 

What fictional place would you most like to go to?

 

Got to be Hogwart's.

 

 

Your parting Words/Words of Wisdom:

 

As Tolkien once wrote; 'not all those who wander are lost.'

 

Katie Sinfield

Aged 22

Leicester, UK

 

 

Blog: mormonwithmadd.wordpress.com

Facebook: facebook.com/ulsudisabled1718

Twitter: @RoRoWeasley & @ULSU_Disability

Instagram: @mormonwithmadd


I was diagnosed with mixed anxiety and depressive disorder (MADD) in November 2015, and have since been actively involved in campaigning for mental health awareness. At my university, I became President of the Mental Health Awareness Support society [MHAS]. Part of this role were stigma-
breaking activities such as regular workshops. We educated our fellow students on different mental health difficulties and how to best go about talking about them so as to not feed the stigma. It was very important to me as someone with mental health difficulties.

 

Outside of university, I am a Press Ambassador for UK student mental health charity, Student Minds. This means I get to talk to the media about my mental health story, thus raising awareness and helping to break prejudices. Earlier this year I was interviewed by ITV Central which aired in May, and my blog piece was also featured on their website! This was very nerve-wracking but an incredibly humbling experience.

 

ITV Blog & Interview:

 

http://www.itv.com/news/central/2017-05-11/blog/

 


Struggling with depression and anxiety is very hard. Some days I can’t get out of bed, some days I can’t stay in a familiar room for very long because my heart is racing and I can barely breathe. But I have goals, and they help me through the tough times. I am not ashamed about my struggles, or the fact that I need to take medication, and I will always fight against stigma. I am now Leicester Students’ Union Disabled Students’ Officer, in a position where I can even more publicly tell my story and continue to fight mental health stigma and increase awareness.

 

 

Favourite Movie: Disney’s Beauty &the Beast (1991)
Favourite TV show(s): Supernatural, Thunderbirds, and Sea Patrol.
Favourite Book: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Favourite Music Artist/Band: Courteeners
Favourite Quote: 'Obsessed is just a word the lazy use to describe the dedicated.' ~ Unknown
Your Idol: J.K. Rowling

 


Give me one weird fact about you?

 

My family’s nickname for me is Woolly because when I was a baby I used to bleat in my sleep. Naturally, sheep are my favourite animal.


What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

 

The time I got drunk during a Lord of the Rings marathon with uni friends and became convinced I was a meat-eating koala. I’ve never lived that down!


If you were stuck on a desert island, what three things would you bring?

 

My scriptures, my penknife, and a sunhat.


Which 5 people would you invite to a dinner party (dead or alive)?

 

Carrie Fisher, Jensen Ackles, Jared Padalecki, Angela Lansbury, and Emma Watson.


If you could turn any activity into an Olympic Sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a medal for?

 

Something to do with Fanfiction. Or Harry Potter.


What fictional place would you most like to go to?

 

Hogwarts, without a doubt!

 

 

Your parting words/words of wisdom:

 

Never apologise for who you are.

It’s okay not to be okay, you don’t have to be perfect.

You can accomplish anything - don’t let anyone tell you otherwise!

 

Matthew Mongillo

Aged 26

Connecticut, USA

 

 

Blog: mong82191.wordpress.com

 

I’ve been dealing with depression and anxiety since 2006, formally diagnosed in 2013. Been a mental health blogger and advocate since January 2015.

 

 

Favourite Movie: A tie between Saving Private Ryan and Apollo 13.
Favourite TV Show: MythBusters.

Favourite book: The entire Harry Potter series. Can’t choose only one of them.
Favourite Music Artist/Band: Canadian progressive rock trio Rush.
Favourite Quote: “Even though you’re going through hell, just keep on going” Neil Peart.
Your Idol: Neil Peart

 

 

Give me one weird fact about you?

 

I broke my right arm twice in one summer when I was a kid. Same arm both times, same break as well.


What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

 

I’ve tripped and fallen so many times for no reason whatsoever. I’m incredibly clumsy.


If you were stuck on a desert island, what three things would you bring?

 

My bed, a source of internet and my computer.


Which 5 people would you invite to a dinner party (dead or alive)?


Barack Obama, Geddy Lee, Emma Watson, Franklin Roosevelt, Alex Lifeson.


If you could turn any activity into an Olympic Sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a medal for?

 

Knowing random sports statistics.


What fictional place would you most like to go to?

 

I’d love to go to the underwater city of Rapture from the video game series Bioshock.

 

 

Your parting words/words of wisdom:

 

Always try and help someone when they need it. You never know how your words can affect someone. Give someone a compliment, just be there for someone.

 

Anisha Beckett

Aged 22

Manchester, UK

 

 

 

Twitter: @nishasrb

Blog: anishasrb.wordpress.com

 

*trigger warning*

self-harm

 

In 2016 I was diagnosed with Bipolar 2, along with that I have Psychosis, suicidal tendencies, anxiety, paranoia and a massive self destruct button. Before diagnosis, I struggled massively, its surprising that I'm still here. I knew my mind that I wasn't connecting properly but I didn't know what to do. I turned to self harming a lot of the time to cope because to me i felt a sense of release. In a bazaar way, I was in control if I harmed myself, I had the power to destroy my inner self. I fell in love with depression but feared my mania. 

 

Once i was diagnosed I thought the whole problem would disappear, how wrong ay? But, I know how to handle my inner demon more productively now and I believe speaking out helps massively. I blog about Mental health because I want everyone to know my story. I want everyone to know what I've been through as if my story can prevent another story from happening or help in a middle of a story, my whole illness isn't just a negative. 

 

 

Favourite Movie: Beauty & the Beast

Favourite TV Show: Orange is the New Black

Favourite Book: Carrie Fisher - 'Wishful Drinking' 

Favourite Artist/Band: Linkin Park

Favourite Quote: 'What we think, we become.'

 

 

Give me one weird fact about you?

 

I can dislocate my hips.... 

 

What is the most embarrassing thing that has happened to you?

 

saying 'Aw she's so cute' to a new mum, only to find out her baby is a boy. She did not look happy... awks.

 

If you were stuck on a desert island, what three things would you bring?

 

my boyfriend, a knife, (that my boyfriend can have) and ooo... bottles of water that we can refill... i heard something about pee and heat? i don't know we may need to get desperate!

 

Which 5 people would you invite to a dinner party (dead or alive)?

 

Carrie Fisher, Chester Bennington, Jack Whitehall, Dalhi Lama, Walt Disney, 

 

If you could turn any activity into an Olympic Sport, what would you have a good chance at winning a medal for?

 

Binge watching Netflix / Sleeping 

 

What fictional place would you most like to go to?

 

The galaxy far, far away!

 

 

Your parting words/words of wisdom:  

 

You don't need to be a medical professional to help save a life, be aware, be observant, be a friend. x

 

If you would like to be involved in The Mental Health Advocates series, please email me at gemmacallaway1994@gmail.com for more info! x

 

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