a blog about mental illness and community

Archive for the ‘News’ Category

What matters most

A cute reminder to identify (and do!) the important stuff before time runs out…

Without getting morbid or snowed under by life’s endless tasks, that is.

Best. Venn Diagram. Ever.

what matters most

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To tell you the truth…

how are you

Hello again! It’s been a long time since my last proper post, but I’m going to rectify the situation now.

One reason I haven’t posted in ages is because I was snowed under with uni work, but the other reason relates directly to the illustration above – my own reluctance to share thoughts and feelings, even in this validating environment.

There are a number of explanations for why I hold back, online and in person.

Especially when a friend, family member or mental health professional asks the dreaded question: “How are you?”

  • It’s often easier to say “I’m fine” than verbalise the complexity and occasional darkness of my moods
  • I’m overcome by ‘worry thoughts’: “What if my friend doesn’t really want to know how I am and she’s just being polite? What if I bring Mum down by telling her how I feel?” etc
  • Some people don’t want an in-depth answer and are, indeed, merely being polite

At the same time, I’ve discovered firsthand that the very best people in your life really DO want to know how you are.

I’ve discovered that, just as I would prefer to know if my bestie was having a meltdown (even if all I could do to help was listen and hug her), the people who care about me actually DO want to know what’s going on and offer whatever support they can.

It’s a truth I’m still coming to terms with.

dont-give-up

It’s still scary to admit when things aren’t crash hot – to make myself vulnerable in front of others, hell or high water.

But to be honest, striving every day to share my true thoughts and feelings has been the most difficult and most rewarding endeavour.

It’s tough, but it has allowed me to make the most of professional support, deepen existing relationships and be more authentic.

So, next time someone asks how you are, consider admitting that you feel “horrible” or “depressed” or “anxious” – anything but “fine”.

Unless you really are fine, of course…

Choose your person carefully and dip a toe in the water. You may be amazed and relieved if you allow yourself to tell the truth.

Defeating Depression via MTV

Source: SoulPancake

Get a load of this!

MTV has announced it will air Life Continued: Defeating Depression at 7pm tomorrow to commemorate World Mental Health Day.

Life Continued: Defeating Depression is a 60-minute special produced by Rainn Wilson’s SoulPancake.

The documentary goes inside the lives of two young people from different parts of the US who have fought their way through severe mental health struggles.

It’s certainly not all doom and gloom though. The youngsters found hope and a path to recovery by seeking treatment and drawing strength from those around them.

The short doco responds to the fact that suicide is the third-leading cause of death among people aged 15-24.

It aims to empower viewers facing mental illness to get help or to support friends in need.

“Depression can be debilitating, and many teens and young adults are struggling to find their way to mental health,” Rainn Wilson said.

“SoulPancake is excited to partner with MTV to tell the brave stories of two college students who found their way out of the darkness. We hope this special can inspire viewers to seek help and support, and find the courage to heal.”

Reject Laguna Beach and watch Life Continued instead – at least on World Mental Health Day.

You can check out my post on the truth about suicide here.

Walk away from stigma

Source: Mental Health Association Australia

Today marks the start of Mental Health Week.

Mental Health Week is an annual national awareness event created to engage communities in activities which promote good mental health and increase understanding of the needs, experiences and issues concerning people with a mental illness.

It’s organised by the Mental Health Association Australia, and encompasses a wide range of initiatives throughout the country.

One major event is happening in Brisbane from 6:30am this Sunday at Kangaroo Point. The Mental Health Week Walk aims to raise awareness of depression and other mental illnesses.

So why not register? There’ll be live music, kids’ entertainment and a BBQ lunch to reward your support.

You can find a list of other Mental Health Week activities here.

Another great source of info and events related to psychological health – not just this week, but throughout the whole year – is the Mental Awareness Foundation.

It’s time to get out into the October sunshine and do something within your community to reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness.

Not only is Mental Health Week an important initiative, it’s the best excuse you can get for boosting your own serotonin stocks.

Coalition’s mental health policy could put EDs on the map

Source: flickr

Source: flickr

Unless you’ve been living under a media-proof rock, you’ll know that the LNP won the recent federal election and Tony Abbott is the new prime minister of Australia.

So what does the election result mean for Australians with mental illness – in particular, those with eating disorders?

In August the Coalition released its Policy for Efficient Mental Health Research and Services.

Key points include:

  • A pledge of $18 million over four years to establish Australia’s first National Centre for Excellence in Youth Mental Health
  • Investment in new research to explore how better mental health can lift Australia’s economic productivity
  • Tasking the National Mental Health Commission to assess the effectiveness of existing mental health programmes

An excerpt from the policy paper summarises the Coalition’s goal:

“We believe a proper evaluation of mental health programmes is necessary to ensure that the delivery of services gets to those most in need and that funding is provided to those programmes that have proven to be most effective on the frontline.”

This pledge is particularly relevant to Australians struggling with eating disorders.

Despite the prevalence and debilitating impact of conditions like anorexia and bulimia, current treatment services are woefully inadequate.

For instance, there are only 15 dedicated eating disorder beds in all of Queensland.

Five of these are public beds at the Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital. The other ten are private beds at Brisbane’s New Farm Clinic, a specialised psychiatric hospital.

 

Stacey Pike, 26, is a former inpatient at New Farm Clinic.

I spoke to Stacey about the “hell” of living with an eating disorder, a struggle compounded by difficulties in accessing effective, compassionate treatment.

The National Eating Disorders Collaboration (NEDC) has released some concerning statistics:

  • Anorexia and bulimia affect 2-4% of the Australian population
  • The risk of premature death for women with anorexia is 6-12 times higher than the general population
  • Eating disorders represent the second leading cause of mental disorder disability for young women

population percentages

Hopefully, the Abbott government will deliver on its promise to review and overhaul the country’s mental health care system.

Action in this area would improve recovery prospects for people with eating disorders, and help put these devastating mental illnesses on the map.

If you’re keen to find out more, this segment from ABC’s 7:30 program (aired in late 2012) explores the issue further.

You can read one of my previous posts on eating disorders here.

The truth about suicide

With any luck you’ve been on the giving and receiving end of a bombardment of “Are you okay’s?” today.

Though the question can become tiresome and the typical “Thanks, I’m fine” response perfunctory, research supports the value of checking in with one another to prevent suffering and self-destructive behaviour.

After all, the worst case scenario may be suicide.

suicide infographic

For people struggling with mental illness, suicide can seem like the only way to escape seemingly endless torture.

Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, bulimia, bipolar disorder…

Living with these psychiatric conditions isn’t a picnic!

I am, however, a big fan of the following message:

Something to keep in mind on those particularly rotten days.

If you’re feeling suicidal, you can call Lifeline 24/7 on 13 11 14.

You can find an awesome quote about resisting the urge to throw in the towel here.

Fact versus fiction on bipolar and depression

Nothing like a good myth-busting session!

And, unlike these guys, you don’t need a beret or crazy moustache to partake.

Source: flickr

Joking aside, falsehood is often the foundation for stigma.

The more we spread the truth about mental illness, the sooner acceptance will flourish.

myths and facts about depression and bipolar

Source: healthline.com

You can check out one of my previous posts on stigma here.

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