Rotherham Report – My Thoughts

Trigger Warning – This post discusses childhood sexual abuse using language which some people may find deeply upsetting so please consider this before you continue reading. Helpline details are given at the bottom of this post should you read it then find you feel vulnerable.

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The news of the Rotherham Report has deeply saddened me but I’m afraid not surprised me. Childhood sexual abuse is something which goes on in the undercurrent of our society, in your street and in mine every day, but this is something society chooses to erase from its consciousness. Society does not feel comfortable talking about something so abhorrent. It is something the vast majority of people are appalled by, appalled by the repeated news articles, written daily, outlining the prevalence of this in
our modern, so called, civilised nation.

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My Journey…

I gave a talk tonight at the Annual Members Meeting of the Mental Health trust for which I am a governor, my talk was about my journey of recovery and what it meant to me as I made the transition from service user to staff nurse, the words that follow are what I read:

My first contact with mental health services was in 2007 following the birth of my daughter, Eve. After she was born I knew straight away that I didn’t feel right. I spent the first five weeks after she was born racing around, I decorated my entire flat and held a dinner party every night for three weeks! When my daughter was five weeks old depression hit me like a shovel in the face, I didn’t just slow down, I stopped. Continue reading

Lived experience?

The issue of self disclosure in mental health setting is a controversial one and one to which I have given much thought. As I have blogged about previously I am a mental health professional who has lived experience of mental illness and the stigma which comes along with that. Continue reading

Happy Fathers Day!!!

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So you’d have to be walking around in a bubble to have failed to notice all the father’s day posts across social media today, my facebook and twitter feed have been full of posts varying from those who are expressing their thanks and love felt towards their father to those saying how much they miss their now passed father. Lots of other variations were added to the mix too including the fathers who have posted how much their miss their children who their ex partner refuses to allow them access to and then the single mums posting how they do the job of both parents. All very valid and appropriate points to make. Continue reading

Nearly a statistic; Postnatal depression

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Trigger Warning re childhood abuse/birth trauma/suicide

I have been involved with a piece of work with the midwifery education school at my local university, the same one incidentally I am due to graduate from this summer with a BSc Hons Mental Health Nursing although this is totally separate to my academic studies.
What started as an email saying ‘you’ve talked about having had postnatal depression haven’t you?’ has evolved over the past 14 months into something I am exceptionally proud of. The email was from someone I have come into contact with in a service user voice worker capacity and on behalf of a senior midwifery lecturer at the uni, we agreed to meet for a coffee in December 2012 to discuss what was being asked and how it could work. Continue reading

Last lap now…

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On the marathon that is a BSc Hons in Mental Health Nursing I am running the last lap, the final furlong, the sprint finish. Whatever you care to call it, THIS year I will be qualified as a Registered Mental Health Nurse. A handful of assignments, a presentation and a dissertation stand between me and that goal. I have a few weeks left in lectures to absorb the last bits of theory then an extended placement for about four and a half months known as the ‘management’ placement. Continue reading

2013; The good, the bad and the ugly

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The end of a year encourages us all to reflect upon how the year treated us and I am no different. 2013 has like any year that has gone before it seen highs and lows (although neither to an extreme in my mood thank goodness!!!), over all it was a good year, stable and steady. Continue reading

Nature or Nurture?

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I have just watched the Kerry Katona documentary on catch up for Channel 5, it’s called ‘My Secret Past’ and is worth a watch. I have long believed that my battle with mental illness is a combination of the two, that I have a genetic predisposition but that trauma I experienced during my childhood triggered it off. I guess it’s no different to someone having a genetic predisposition to heart disease but whether that person eats a fry up for breakfast then sits on their backside everyday makes a difference to whether they trigger those heart problems off or not.

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Medication reduction…

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had an appointment today with my GP who is exceptionally supportive with my mental health. I know at times she has been as frustrated as I have been with secondary mental health services on my behalf. To have the support of someone who truly believes in the concept of recovery is vital to achieve mental well being. My appointment was booked several weeks ago to discuss my next drop in dose of my Venlafaxine. Continue reading

Letter to my younger self…

Ten things I wish I could tell my younger self:

1. To always have hope. Through both mental illness and via situations I have faced I’ve felt hopeless at times in my life. I can’t necessarily change how I think or feel when in the grips of mental illness but I can change how I deal with situations that life will invariably throw at me in the future. I have ‘Dum vita est spes est’ tattooed around my ribs which means whilst there is life there is hope in Latin. I truly believe that no matter how utterly hopeless you may feel at any given moment if you just keep on going moment by moment it can get better. So no matter how low one feels it is important never to take a permanent action to solve a temporary feeling. Continue reading

An open letter to Metro:

Tyne and Wear Metro have launched a new video to encourage safety when using their service. Sounds fine in theory until you hear their naive use of highly stigmatising language.
They used the word ‘insane’ in the context of a persons stupidity which is simply offensive.
This is the email I sent after they refused to discuss this further publicly on twitter. I will post their response if and when I receive it. Continue reading

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Christmas…

Christmas; the most wonderful time of the year? Or is it?
Not for everyone it isn’t. Three years ago I spent Christmas in a psychiatric ward away from my husband and daughter and that will always be at the back of my mind as the shops begin to fill with glitter and the TV adverts show perfect family Christmas’.

I can tell myself I ‘forgive me’ for missing that Christmas with my daughter and build lots of new happier memories in the years since then. What’s not to forgive? I was ill. Continue reading

“Gosh aren’t you getting tall?”

Yesterday was my daughters seventh birthday party and although I knew I was stressed trying to arrange it along with working full time and writing university assignments nothing prepared me for the reaction that this party provoked in me yesterday. Continue reading

Cost per use reduced…

Today I feel lighter. I feel like the honesty I entrusted upon someone today was the right thing to do.

Being open today also reduced my cost per use of the phrase “I’m no longer ashamed about my past” as that cost me around £4000 in therapy to be able to say out loud!!! Continue reading

Sickening stigma

Mental health stigma is not a new issue. What is new is how blatant it seems to have become of late.
Over recent months supermarkets Asda and Tesco both sold costumes for Halloween depicting the popular press’ vision of what a they believe a ‘mental patient’ looks like. The response to this on social media was phenomenal with lots of us within the service user movement posting pictures of ourselves on twitter showing that ‘This is what a mental patient looks like’, showing how fabulously boringly normal we all are.
Power to the people prevailed and the supermarkets withdrew these appallingly named costumes from sale. Continue reading

Happy Campers

Well another summer over and another family camping holiday had, good cheap family fun.
The very first time we went camping as a family I had to really persuade my husband to try it, he had no desire to leave his home comforts.
I had been unwell with a severe depression, been hospitalised for several months and during that time some dear friends had a collection to send flowers. They sent some gorgeous flowers but realised they had around £100 left and decided to buy me some leisure vouchers so we could do something nice as a family once I recovered. The leisure vouchers could be spent on a day at a theme park, or an over night stay in a hotel or at a small selection of retailers. One shop had an offer on a camping starter set including a tent and with that those friends have us the most amazing gift ever, the gift of memories being made for years to come.
We bought that tent set and never looked back, we have added to the kit we take over the last couple of years.
Once the tent is pitched and I sit in my folding chair admiring my hard work I literally feel my mental health improve. In the same way a dose of Valium can be felt lifting anxiety I can feel my body letting out a sigh in relief of the opportunity to regenerate with relaxation.
The flowers those friends bought were beautiful and yet the years of memory making that the tent the paid for has given us is priceless really.

Things that make me smile :)

I like books, the kindle may be ‘handy’ but it doesn’t smell like a book. I love buskers, they make me smile when the sky is grey and the commute is overcrowded. I love burlesque, those ladies know they are sexy and flaunt that; if God had meant boobs to stay still he wouldn’t have made them jiggly 😉 Just wish I had the confidence to jiggle my stuff without causing an earthquake… If I had to pick a favourite animal it would be the unicorn… Of course they exist! Or possibly the sloth, the main cause of death for sloth’s is them grabbing onto their own arm thinking it was a tree branch and falling to their death; who couldn’t love a creature THAT stooooopid?!?! Continue reading

Happy Pills?

I am often left wondering, based upon my own experiences, if those who prescribe medication realise the impact on a patients life that the medication has. I imagine they feel pleased if the medications treats the original symptoms or disappointed if it doesn’t but should accepting another illness in its place be classified as a success? By that I mean that it is such a fine balance to relieve the original symptoms whilst not creating side effects which can be an illness in themselves. Continue reading

Was Larkin right?

Did Phillip Larkin have it covered when he penned his famous poem which was entitled ‘They fuck you up your mum and dad’?
I know that my own father emigrating and sending me a post card to say he had moved and my mother choosing her emotionally abusive husband over her child who was already vulnerable did have a profound impact upon my adult life but I feel comfortable that I have processed the emotions linked to my own childhood. I have enough insight to know that whether someone has the seemingly perfect childhood or if someone has some dreadful experiences those experiences all help us from the person we become. Continue reading

Stop the Victim Blaming!

64166_10151526939649417_996056550_nToday April 3rd 2013 is International day against Victim Blaming. I have posted this on my social media accounts today and been amazed by the responses I have received, in both a positive and negative way. Continue reading

Whilst there is life there is hope…

A few people have said to me that I should write down my life story, until now I have discounted their suggestion as I could not see a reason other than fascination why anyone would want to read about me. I now realise however that I have something wonderful to offer through my life story; hope. My life isn’t perfect but it shows that no matter what a person has to go through if you keep trying it can get easier. Memories can become less raw, in my case they do still catch me off guard on occasions but even then they are not as painful as they once were. I am able to challenge my thoughts and turn those memories into a positive by telling myself that I survived whatever memory has surfaced and that I am worthy of leaving that part of my life behind. Continue reading

Keeping the box firmly closed…

Today I have woken up wishing I could just curl up and go back to sleep to wake again tomorrow feeling brighter and more able to face the world. I am fairly sure that the reason I feel this way is exhaustion, not because I am tired as I had a fairly decent night sleep but because I am emotionally drained. Continue reading

The best mum in the world…?

Mother’s Day, like Father’s Day, is a day which until I had my own child I dreaded. It has its own meaning now I am a mother and receive a card and treat, it’s a day to make me smile widely to show my pride at being a mammy.
Nearly all of the cards address ‘The best mother in the world’ and when that is not how you feel it seriously narrows the choice available to choose one. It’s not that I don’t love my mother, I do love her I just don’t feel that she deserves the title of Worlds Best Mother. Continue reading

Disclosure – The Sequel

Last month I blogged about how I respond when someone asks me why I have come into mental health nursing and received some positive feedback on that piece.
This morning a conversation between myself and a lovely, very dedicated and very experienced nurse turned to the subject of ECT or Electro Convulsive Therapy (I will write a whole blog on this in more depth sometime), she asked had I seen this treatment and it felt entirely natural to reply “seen it? I have had it!” Continue reading

Faith in Hope and Hope in Faith…

On a form if I am asked for ‘Religion’ I always put RC or Roman Catholic and recently I have questioned my allegiance to the Catholic Church. By this I do not mean I have questioned my faith as I feel strongly that I am guided in life but I mean that some of the actions or lack of actions of the Catholic Church have disturbed me and also I have been questioned as to how I can class myself as a catholic when I use contraception. I feel this blog may be as much for me to work out my thoughts on being a modern catholic woman as for me to share these thoughts with you.

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Tess of the D’Dubervilles…

Why do I find dieting so hard? Why can I not be happy when I look in the mirror?
I remember when I was at school studying ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’ understanding on a deep and very unfortunate level why Tess felt the need to shave off her eyebrows to disguise her beauty to men following her rape. I knew what it meant to wish that I hadn’t been so appealing in that way. Continue reading

Memory lane is a long road….

I can go for long periods of time thinking very little about my childhood but sometimes it seems everything reminds me. These past few months have triggered some uneasy thoughts about my experiences when every time I turn on the tv it seems another revelation in the Saville scandal is on the news. I try to remind myself that the more people talk about taboo subjects then stigma will reduce and hopefully more children will feel able to speak out sooner and suffer less. Continue reading

Disclosure

I should be used to the question by now… ‘So why do you want to be a mental health nurse?’

I usually witter for a few minutes about reassessing my life and career after I had a spell being unwell after having my little girl. I never offer the information but if I’m pushed I have been known to admit that I had post natal depression. I hate that word ‘admit’ like I am guilty of something. I have no guilt or shame over my mental health and have spoken openly about it for years but being used to assumptions made often by people who should know better I usually stay quiet in a new workplace. Once people get to know me and respect me for who I am and what I am capable of I am more than willing to be open. Continue reading

Bad day or unwell?

Bad day? Or unwell?

It may seem like the most simple thing in the world to know whether you have had a bad day or whether you are unwell with a relapse of mental illness. It’s not easy at all.
I’m not sure why I get so worked up about this issue maybe it’s fear that I am becoming depressed again? To a point the reason is not important it is the way I deal with it that matters. Continue reading

Every cloud has a silver lining… Hasn’t it?

Today I am struck by how alike the weather reports are to descriptions of mood… “The black clouds are descending” “my sunny disposition” I have even been known to use the phrase saying “all clouds have a silver lining” meaning that my mental health issues have had a positive impact upon my life as well. If I had never had a mental illness I would likely still be a Human Resources Manager, still have a financially secure lifestyle and not met lots of wonderful people who I am now fortunate enough to know. Continue reading

Am I a feminist?

It seems to have become somewhat unfashionable to describe oneself as a feminist in 2013 and I can’t help but wonder why? As a modern woman do I expect to have it all? To have men open doors and pull out chairs for us then to be able to drink pints and have equal pay. I wonder if maybe it is us women who have confused the men in our society? Continue reading

‘Fine thanks, how are you?’

I am passionate about fighting the stigma which still surrounds mental illness and will always try to be as open as possible about my history of mental health difficulties. This got me to thinking though, by replying to a ‘Hi how are you?’ with ‘Fine thanks’ am I adding to the stigma?

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