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Sandra Dean – Registered Member


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World Mental Health Awareness Day Wednesday 10 October 2012 sharing my recovery and my life right now

My life right now…

Well, right now I am very happy – the best I have felt in years.  I love talking to people about mental health and campaigning against stigma.  I am going to college twice a week and am getting on well with the tasks, my classmates and the homework (well, just about on the homework actually as there are quite a few hours of it LOL).  I am doing ‘Intro to Counselling’ on Mondays and ‘Psychology’ on Wednesdays.

I was so nervous to start college, thinking… Will I get on with people? Will I be able to keep up?  Will I be able to cope with the role plays?  Will I cope with the new academic environment – a place I haven’t been in for many years?  But, luckily, I was too excited about starting the courses to worry too much and, as usual when it comes to worry anyway, it would have all been for nothing as I loved the classes within minutes of being there.

What a turnaround from the angry, upset, suicidal, drunken, stay in bed, paranoid, changeable person I had recently been.  Not that I regret my mental illness because I don’t – it has made me who I am and I am now proud of who I am – but it is very rewarding to think that all the years of effort I put into trying to recover have now paid off.  If I hadn’t been at the brink of totally giving up my life, I would not have been through the life enhancing journey back into my past life to find out who I had become and why.  I wouldn’t have researched mental illness so carefully or had the strength to do my advocating and anti-stigma campaigning.  I wouldn’t have looked at everyone close to me to see who they really are, how the affect me, good and bad, how happy, sad or indifferent they are and why they lead their lives the way they do.  I wouldn’t be who I am right now.  I might just still be floating along just about coping with my illness as I had been.  But it didn’t work out like that – I got worse, and worse, until I was at my wits end to even cope with myself let alone those around me.  And that gave me the drive to do something about it.

And there came my memoir – my four year journey out of those dark, confusing, angry, drunken, upset days, into the days I have now – full of clarity instead of delusion, where I stop to indulge in the sun instead of hide from it, and where food tastes better than ever.  And I am taking my age in my stride now.  I am actually pleased to be thirty eight.  I love my new found wisdom and the experience I have of life to reflect upon.  I’ve spent years since my thirtieth birthday deeply unhappy and feeling ‘old’ while everyone called me a youngster, but they had been right, I wasn’t old, I’m still not old.  It was my state of mind at the time.  I am now embracing my years and will not waste another day.  I am now ‘living in the moment’ again.  Although it doesn’t help much with long term plans and responsibilities, living in the moment is right for me at this time and I am having so much fun because of it.  I go out more, see more and I am even going to have a break from tomorrow (11th October) for three weeks and I won’t be taking my computer with me.  This is a shock because the only time in the last six years I didn’t take it away with me and sit on it for hours as usual, was when I went to Borneo to see the state of the palm oil industry and the Orangutan.  I am more in control of my life now, of myself, and control is something I will be testing by not being on my computer, facebook, twitter etc and I hope when I get back that I will not be tempted to get on my computer morning, noon and night as I have been.

However, I will not stop advocating.  I love to talk to people, I love to write, I love to share my experiences of mental illness and recovery.  I am hoping to get more articles published on mental health.  I am hoping to write another book.  I have ideas again.  I might be selling my holiday rentals website.  I might be doing lots of things.  My head is so full of optimism and idea’s, I feel something good is going to happen.  I said 2012 will be my year.  I promised myself that a long time ago, and now here we are…

I still have bouts (a few hours or so) of depressive mood.  I still have some OCD traits (SEE MY ARTICLE BY CLICKING HERE ON MY OCD TRAITS – opens in a new window) and I have some BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) traits left, even though I do not have enough (five out of the nine at least) to still have the diagnosis of BPD.  But no-ones life is perfect, I realise that.  I am not cocky though as I am always aware that another bigger bout of illness may come, but this time I will be ready, and since I have been able to fend off most symptoms when they arise this year, coping with them until they leave me, I feel more secure in myself – because I don’t think I could ever go lower than where I was not that long ago.

Right now the NHS (National Health Service) is causing me stress – my psychiatrist will not see me until next year, now my GP tells me I have to change surgeries – and lot’s more (read my article on NHS services I have experiences by CLICKING HERE – opens in a new window).

My hopes and dreams are that I will be able to control my changing moods enough so that I can live an even more ‘normal life’.  I still do not have a full time job, but I plan to do some voluntary work with a mental health charity in the coming months when I have finished my counselling introductory course.  The tutor suggested it.  I also have not managed to ‘gain responsibility’ in that I couldn’t think of having a child, I still live temporarily without a ‘proper home’ and so I cannot have pets (something I really want because I have way too much love saved up to give to animals), and so my life is still, at present, on hold.  It’s not where I feel I should be at 38 (nearly 39) But, instead of looking at these negatives, I am able to see all the life changes I HAVE made.

I would also like to do some hypnotherapy or psychotherapy to deal with some remaining issues that bother me – my brother bullying me as a child and a second rape that occurred a few years ago (no, neither of these are in my book for those of you who have read it and are wondering – some things were not right for the book and those are two of them).  I would like to do some regression work to see what else is hiding in my memory that occasionally gets me and sends me into an anxiety ball.

I recently bought a book – ‘Top 100 wonders of the world’ which has amazing photos and information about the ‘wonders’ and I realised I have been to 18 of them.  Now I feel very privileged to have visited those wonderful places, even if some of the trips, in part, were driven by the onset of my mental illness and running away. Oh my what lovely photos I have to look back on 🙂

And my message for this ‘World Mental Health Day’ is that “YOU CAN DO IT TOO!”  Even if you do not suffer with mental illness, you are bound to know someone who does, if not more.  I just want to spread the word that, although not all mental illnesses can be completely overcome, there is so much hope to manage symptoms and eradicate some to have ‘a life worth living’.  Hard work can pay off and it really is worth the fight – giving up should not be an option.  And putting our recovery into someone else’s hands should not be either.  We have to help ourselves too – fight for our lives.  Often we cannot get all the help we need from outside sources, so this is crucial sometimes and we should take responsibility for ourselves, it’s very rewarding.

And finally, I just want to say a word about stigma.  Stigma against people with mental illness hurts them.  It can make them worse.  It can even make people take their own lives.  Mentally ill people should not feel ashamed of themselves or their illness any more than anyone else with a physical illness.  DON’T do it!  Don’t stigmatise.  And if you hear of someone stigmatising, try to educate them – please 🙂

The kindest thing you can do for anyone with mental illness is – be anti-stigma.  Try to understand the person’s illness.  Try to create empathy for that person.  It’s not about sympathy; it’s about empathy – really trying to understand things from the other’s point of view.  See my article BY CLICKING HERE on how you can help stop stigma (opens in a new window)

More articles on stigma on my site:

CLICK HERE FOR INFO ON MY ANTI STIGMA CAMPAIGN

CLICK HERE FOR REASONS TO STOP THE STIGMA

CLICK HERE FOR MORE ON STIGMA

And finally – CLICK HERE FOR IDEAS ON HOW TO HELP CRUSH STIGMA BY SHARING YOUR STORY

I’d love to hear what you guys are doing for World Mental Health Day!

All for now,

Amanda 🙂

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