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The Mental Health Advocates / Week #2

October 9, 2017

Karly Joy

Aged 25

Orlando, FL

 

 

Blog: karlyjoy.com

Social Media: @hikarlyjoy 

 

I've had anxiety since I was a little kid, and depression on and off since I was around 12. I was never formally diagnosed with either, but I feel like my experiences have been too significant to ignore.

 

I had panic attacks over homework assignments from the age of around 8 up until I graduated from college. I'd feel sick before each and every class and had to spend at least 30 minutes double checking I was in the right room before each class, even though I'd been going to the same place for 4 weeks. To this day, I still have to try and remind myself that my friends don't actually secretly hate me.

 

I kind of feel like a mess most days. At the same time, it's been such a huge part of my life for as long as I can remember that it almost feels normal. I recently started my blog where I talk about my life and disability, and I try to talk about mental health both in my blog posts and on my social media. I'm not always the best at advice, but I hope that it helps people feel a little less alone and helps to erase the stigma behind mental health little by little.

 

 

Favourite movie: I'm not a huge movie person, but probably Aladdin.

Favourite TV show: It's a three way tie: Breaking Bad, Friends, and Boy Meets World

Favourite book: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Favourite music artist/band: It changes often, but right now I'm really into AJR and BTS (a kpop group, I know. It's dorky.)

Favourite quote: "Never forget what you are. The rest of the world will not. Wear it like armor and it can never be used to hurt you." - Tyrion Lannister/Game of Thrones

Your idol: I don't really have one? There are a lot of people I admire (friends/family/Aaron Paul), but I wouldn't say I have an idol. Give me one weird fact about you? I'm in a wheelchair but I love pretty staircases.

 

 

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

 

I broke my toe by driving my power wheelchair into a wall at Target because I got excited they had the cafe hot dogs. It was a shameful moment in my past.

 

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

 

One of those things that makes salt water drinkable, a tortoise for a companion because they live so long, and maybe like a fishing net.

 

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

 

Aaron Paul, Jung Hoseok, Walt Disney, Lisa Kudrow, Dodie Clark.

 

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

 

Binge watching shows I've already seen before on Netflix.

 

What fictional place would you most like to go to?

 

Hogwarts, specifically the Hufflepuff common room.

 

 

Your parting words/words of wisdom:

 

Your anxiety/depression is lying to you. Give yourself credit where credit is due, and don't punish yourself for your mistakes. Also, don't forget to drink water!

Stephanie

Aged 19

Scotland

 

Twitter: @rosemelodiess 

 

I have generalised anxiety disorder and social anxiety disorder. I often worry about things, often about the future, and things out of my control. A lot of the time though, I feel anxious for no real reason. I have trouble making decisions due to my anxiety. I have high expectations of myself, however I struggle to feel like I have reached my goals due to my anxiety and social anxiety. I feel uncomfortable in public places, and in situations where I feel that people are evaluating me, such as at work. Life is difficult being a perfectionist with an anxiety disorder (let alone a couple) but I am hoping to work on my issues through cbt therapy, and I hope to be the confident and less anxious individual I once was.

 

 

Favourite movie: Clueless, The perks of being a wallflower, Mrs Doubtfire and La La Land (very difficult to choose only one!)

Favourite TV Show: Pretty Little Liars, The Apprentice, and I’m a Celebrity Get me out of here

Favourite book: Girl in Pieces by Kathleen Glasgow, and Looking for Alaska by John Green (I told you I am indecisive as I can’t choose only one of everything haha)

Favourite music artist/band: Blossoms, Clean Bandit (and basically all the artists I have on Spotify)

Favourite quote: “There is nothing in nature that blooms all year long, so don’t expect yourself to do so either.”

Your idol: I don’t have one!

 

 

Give me one weird fact about you?

 

I love fruit and vegetables – fruit salad is my ideal breakfast!

 

If you were stuck on a desert island, what 3 items would you bring?

 

An endless supply of fireworks/distress signals to call for help (what can I say, I’m pretty sensible), paprika crisps, and water

 

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

 

Overthinking, indecisiveness, and spending too much time on social media

 

 

Your parting words/words of wisdom:

 

My mental illness(es) do not define me. Instead, they will make me a stronger and more resilient person in the future. I feel like I take less for granted due to what I have been through, and I have became closer to my friends and family. If you are struggling with your mental health in any way, please tell someone and ask for help if you think it would benefit you! Mental health issues are very common, and I am glad to be helping to raise awareness.

 

Alan

Aged 42

Cornwall, UK

 

 

Blog: mentalhealthblogging.com

 

Through my blog, I share stories of mental health you might miss. Some stories are from the large news outlets, and some are from personal blogs. I also share information on the various types of mental illness, and tips on how to live with them on a day to day basis.

 

There is a personal reason for my blog. When I was diagnosed with a mental illness, I lost a lot of friends and family. I am 43 now and was diagnosed at 39 years old. A lot of those friends I’d worked with, drank in the same pub with and done favours for, for many years. And then, they were gone. I mean I still see them every day, but they look away, or rush off because they are “busy.” I haven’t been to that pub for four years, as the strange looks are just too much, and aren’t worth it.

 

Also, I have a very complicated large family, and yet only my Mum and two of my cousins regularly ask how I am. My mum lives in a different country. As soon as the rest of my family believed I was some sort of lunatic or too weak to “snap out of it,” they left the sinking ship. 

 

The stigma attached to mental health astounds me. And that's why I started the blog. To show that these are real illnesses that real people get. Real lives are affected daily by illnesses that can be treated or at least stabilised. 

 

I’m also a regular mental health tweeter @MHNewsBlog and my favourite hashtag to share is #sicknotweak.

 

I was diagnosed with rapid cycling bipolar disorder four years ago. Rapid cycling bipolar disorder means that I cycle between mania and depression very quickly. I can be euphoric in the morning and tucked up in bed deeply depressed in the afternoon of the same day. This has been very challenging for my GP (who is awesome), my psychiatrist (who is excellent) and my CPN (who is hopeless) to treat. I’m on a lot of medication which keeps me mostly stable but does not stop the crushing lows, and I now become hypomanic, rather than full-on manic. Following the bipolar diagnosis, I was also diagnosed with psychosis, anxiety, and insomnia. 

 

If only I had sought help as a teenager more than 25 years earlier I may have had a very different life. Although I don’t have too many regrets and am thankful that my partner of 20 years has stuck by me through the mayhem.

 

Due to the illnesses, I have a very “busy brain” and I've learned to silence the noise by listening to music and podcasts. I especially find podcasts very helpful and generally listen to those that have at least an element of humour in them. I believe comedy to be a lesser known therapy. Our dogs are constant companions and little do they know how much they support me.

 

 

Favourite movie: Too many to list, love movies. Just watched Lion though and it really affected me.

Favourite TV show: 9 out of 10 Cats does Countdown, Stranger things

Favourite book: Fiction: Hitchhikers guide to the galaxy Non-fiction: Bad Science

Favourite music artist/band: Really difficult, listened to PJ Harvey last.

Favourite podcast: Richard Herrings Leicester Square Theatre Podcast (RHLSTP)

Favourite quote: "Insanity is relative. It depends on who has who locked in what cage." Ray Bradbury

Your idol: Stephen Fry

 

 

Give me one weird fact about you?

 

I’ve worked for two pop stars.

 

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

 

At 13 years old when just beginning to learn to play the guitar, I was forced on stage at a party to play. It was awful.

 

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

 

Printed version of Wikipedia, a pack of dogs, and a shipping container full of tennis balls (for the dogs).

 

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

 

Stephen Fry (he can talk about anything), 

Douglas Adams (so Stephen Fry could see his old pal again), 

Oliver Reed (to get the party really started), 

Nicola Adams (just in case anything kicks off, and she’s always smiling) 

Sofie Hagen (because she’s hilarious and so nice to people in her podcasts).

 

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

 

Talking :-D 

 

What fictional place would you most like to go to?

 

When I was a kid I read a book called “The Cloud Forest” (I think, although I haven’t found it anywhere so maybe I dreamt it) which had this boy who, when he dreamt, physically entered the world of the cloud forest. I’d go there.

 

 

Your parting words/words of wisdom: 

 

Me: “Its at times like this I wish I'd listened to my mother.”

Stranger: “Why, what did she say?”

Me: “I’ve no idea, I wasn’t listening.”

 

Cara

Aged 27

Hampshire, UK

 

Twitter: @caralisette

Blog: Moods, Meds & Mental Health Nursing

 

I started my involvement in mental health awareness in 2014 when I started working as a Youth Involvement Worker for Time To Change, and it honestly changed my life.

 

I go into schools and talk to young people and teachers about the stigma and discrimination surrounding mental illness through telling my story. I had never spoken about my mental health problems before, and suddenly I was speaking to crowds of people about it. Through doing that, I started to accept myself for who I am and stopped feeling ashamed of myself for my diagnoses – I struggled with an eating disorder for many years and I also have bipolar disorder. I started to write guest blogs on various platforms, and started to talk about mental health on social media. The response I got was overwhelmingly supportive, and that encouraged me to seek out more opportunities. I started volunteering for Solent Mind in a similar role to the work I had done with Time To Change, but I am able to share my experiences now at a local level as well as nationally.

 

I recently qualified as a mental health nurse and have finally set up my own blog, where I talk about all things mental health and how I am navigating the world of nursing with my own mental illness.

 

 

Favourite Movie: Alice in Wonderland and Mean Girls.

TV Show: Friends, Masterchef Australia and RuPaul’s Drag Race.

Book: How to Stop Time by Matt Haig and To Die For by Carol Lee.

Artist/Band: Probably Arctic Monkeys or Catfish and the Bottlemen.

Quote: “If you have good thoughts they will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely” – Roald Dahl

 

 

Give me one weird fact about you?

 

I can't eat cheese or chocolate if somebody has touched it with their bare hands so at home I use plastic gloves to break up chocolate or grate cheese.

 

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

 

I actually don’t embarrass very easily at all so it’s hard to think of many occasions, but I do remember one. When I was about 18 I worked as a waitress in a very high end restaurant. It held lots of functions, and one evening I was waiting on a wedding party. I am a fairly clumsy person which doesn’t mix well with waitressing anyway! There was a line of about 10-15 stands around a metre or so tall attached together with velvet rope, each with a vase full of flowers on top. I walked backwards into one of them, and as it fell it knocked the next one over, and the next one, and every single one of them fell like dominoes and smashed all over the floor. I swear time stopped for a moment. That was pretty mortifying.

 

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

 

My stuffed pig Sinclair, my favourite book, a notepad, a pen and my cat.

 

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

 

Stephen Fry, Britney Spears, Matt Haig, Robin Williams, RuPaul.

 

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

 

Sleeping and cat petting.  

 

What fictional place would you most like to go to?

 

Wonderland.

 

 

Words of Wisdom:

 

Never be ashamed of yourself for your struggles. I spent so many years feeling like I had to keep this huge part of who I am a secret, and all it did was cause me endless amounts of stress and worry that one day I would be ‘found out’. Own who you are, all of you. When we can all learn to accept ourselves and each other, we can make the world a better place. 

Bethany Evans

Aged 24

Surrey, UK

 

 

Blog: Finding Fibro

 

I have suffered from mental illness (severe anxiety and moderate depression) since I was 12 years old so it has been a battle I have faced for many years, my father also suffers terribly from mental health issues.

 

It has been an ambition of mine to help with mental health for about 4 years now. I have completed a course in Mental Health Awareness and I am also completing a degree in Health and Social Care focusing on Adult Mental Health. I talk openly to everyone about my own battle and how it affects my life. I also use my blog as a way of talking about it to.  Raising awareness and breaking the stigma of mental illness is something I feel extremely strongly about.

 

 

Favourite Movie: Any of Harry Potter series

Favourite TV show: The Big Bang Theory

Favourite book: Again any of Harry Potter series

Favourite music artist/band: Queen

Favourite quote: “The past can hurt. But the way I see it, you can either run from it or learn from it." : Rafiki - The Lion King

Your idol: J.K Rowling

 

 

Give me one weird fact about you? 

 

I have a collection of 22 shower gels, 80 socks and 15 notebooks. I don’t have a use for most of it.

 

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

 

Unfortunately this is more common for me than you’d think, I’m very clumsy. Probably when I accidently punched a pilot in the face (he wasn’t flying he was on the returning flight sitting next to me)

 

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

 

Phone, Sun cream and a Boat

 

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

 

Freddie Mercury, David Attenborough,  J.K Rowling, Emma Watson and Gordon Ramsay.

 

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

 

Sleeping

 

What fictional place would you most like to go to? 

 

Hogwarts

 

 

Your parting words/words of wisdom: 

 

If you ever feel so low you don’t know what to do please seek help. There are plenty of people, listening ears and resources available to you. All you need do is ask. You are so loved.

If you'd like to get involved with The Mental Health Advocates series, please send me an email at gemmacallaway1994@gmail.com for more info! x 

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