Tag Archive | awareness

Up & Down on the Silver Screen

In honour of…oh, who am I kidding, it always seems to be Mental Health Week this or Awareness of Something Week, so in honour of every week of the year in which I suffer from my mental health issues and awareness of how broken my brain is, I have decided to dedicate a post to all the moments in TV I have found where it is a sad moment with a funny bit sneaked in or a comedy show with a moving and tear-jerking moment.  These moments on television do – up to a certain extent – epitomise how mood can go from ecstasy to the depths of despair and vice versa.  For example, as I have said previously, I have a theory that mentally ill people such as myself can never experience one moment of happiness, no matter how minuscule, without paying for it in full by experiencing at least double the amount of time in sheer agony that does not let up.  In short, when we are given that one, precious, fleeting moment WE DESERVE IT because we always know it’s not going to last…before we know it, it’ll be gone and we’ll remember how we didn’t deserve it in the first place.  What spurred this article is what happened yesterday.  I am so close to the end of a 3-year BA that has taken me 4 years because my first attempt at second year was such a calamity.  Yet, a spanner was thrown in the works yesterday when I received the mark of 70 on an essay and had just finished my final exam.  That was literally so great to feel smart and successful for the briefest of moments but then I got an essay that I worked my ass off for which was marked as a 42.  I had been told that the marker was harsh and had upset other students with the unfair grades given, but because I let myself get high on my first-class essay for the smallest of moments, I felt the plummet all the more sharply.  I’m still reeling a bit from that, though not going off my medication would be a step in the right direction, but what made me certain I would write this article is the series finale of Spartacus: War of the Damned, which I have just cried my way through.  When Spartacus finally dies, that was not the sadness that gave me an outlet, but instead I have felt so much throughout the show: love, hate, excitement, pride and laughter, that I’m sorry to have reached the end of another piece of media that left broken little Pippa behind in the sand and let Agron (yes, I found another character to disappear into!) takeover, to the point where when he was crucified – but survived, thank God – I began to shake uncontrollably as if some of the pain was in my brain and able to be felt by me.  That is how far I can leave Pippa behind when her life goes to crap.  Even shadows of Agron’s pain felt with nails in his palms is preferable to the pain that Pippa undergoes everyday but especially when it all goes tits up.

So, that got me to thinking about what moments in television history have elicited a similar response.  Therefore, I’ve decided to share my findings with you!

  • Agron’s Crucifixion (for those who might like to watch it)

  • Rodney and Cassandra’s baby (a truly tragic moment in one of the funniest comedies ever broadcast)
  • Death of Solan (for a strong woman to experience the death of her unknown child and completely fall to pieces in an otherwise light-hearted show had my poor heart on a piece of elastic)

  • Chuck crying and Blair goes from happy to sad (it is Blair’s pain that is of note to me in this…going from the happiness of her mom’s wedding to her future husband crying over the “death” of his father…rollercoaster much?)

  • Klaus is reunited with his daughter (I don’t actually watch The Originals except in clips but this broke my heart…)

  • Atia’s heartbreak (another strong woman brought low, yet Atia’s truly naive feelings that bring her such emotional pain in a show about blood, sex and politics shock, but in the finale you see her hardened by her broken heart and rise from the ashes of the woman who loved Antony)

  • Ianto Jones dies while Jack cannot (in the comedic spin-off to Doctor WhoTorchwood, Ianto and Jack are a funny yet awkward pairing, but Ianto dying by breathing is so heart-wrenching in a dark series in all the light-hearted ones but still a blow nevertheless)

  • Daniel realises who Vala truly is (in the final episode of all 10 seasons of Stargate: SG-1 my favourite character for her very bipolar nature springing from abuse and assault finally gets her man when he insults her enough for her to break her walls down and he sees beyond them…would that all men could)

  • “Bad Timing” (in this episode that serves as sheer proof that a good moment must be paid for in full by an equally or greater bad moment(s), star-crossed lovers – literally – get together and are broken apart within seconds…story of my frelling life!)

This is just a snapshot of moments like these, and I hope you have enjoyed reading my thoughts on them and watching them unfold.  Stay tuned at La Bella Borgia Speaks!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

14-05-2015

Depression Awareness Week

Some people may not know that this week is Depression Awareness Week, and while I have always been a few days late to the parties for mental health awareness scheduled events because I am in a state of constant vigilance (hats off to Alastor Moody!), it’s important to mark this one.

I’ve been having a rough time where pain is at a constant eight and every day I wonder what’s the point of getting out of bed when the duvet just seems too heavy to even bother.  My dissertation and pressing exam revision are not helping this any…but that’s beside the point.  The point is that the more people that are aware of depression and willing to put a stop to the stigma surrounding mental health afflictions and treatments, the more people will be open to caring about those who suffer from those diseases and the less people like me will feel ostracised and isolated because their pain never ebbs away from an eight.

So, I guess, I realise why there isn’t a greetings card that wishes people a Happy Depression Awareness Week but there should be, because it’s a time when depressed and other mentally ill people feel like the world gives a shit and is at least attempting to understand the fog of rubbish that percolates in our broken brains.  This is why I’ve designed my own card and am sharing it with all of you, with my best wishes and hope for the summer of 2k15.

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LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

24-04-2015

Fifty Shades of Fucked Up

I saw the world through new eyes yesterday…unexpected, frightening eyes.  The eyes belonged to a man…a man I found in a movie having met him first in a trilogy of books.  The eyes belong – of course – to Christian Grey of Fifty Shades of Grey.  The world I watched was the one I recognised, the one in which I am imprisoned and to which I am shackled but seeing it through such disturbing yet similar eyes was both beguiling and terrifying.

Usually, I see through the eyes of my choosing and eyes of wounded, maternal but resilient women, such as Lucrezia Borgia or Cordelia Chase (to name the eyes I use for comfort most often).  Last night, I was a domineering, scarred and dangerous man.  I cannot fathom if this change in delusionary material is due to the conversation I had concerning relationships or if the (truly terrible) dialogue and cinematography of the movie just resounded with me.  All I know is that during the moments when I was not in fits of giggling with the girl beside me, I was on the edge of my seat in the cinema feeling, understanding and spectating through the nerves, mind and eyes of Christian Grey – somewhere I never wanted or expected to be.

To give some background regarding the debate I had with a friend à propos relationships, I will tell you that I made the following statement: “I am too independent to be in a relationship with another human being”.  Quite surprisingly, this incited a bit of a debate over what – in my opinion – was a misinterpretation of my words as a decree that only dependent people enter into relationships.  I view relationships as things of compromise, sacrifice and needful of consideration, for in my experience, relationships only function when the two parties involved commit to their partner.  This simply cannot be done without being careful of their feelings, hopes and dreams, plans and ideas.  The majority of the global population, thankfully, have the capacity for this kind of life, love and affection, but as for myself, I am accustomed and value too highly what some might call inconsiderate spontaneity or “lack of intimacy and closeness that comes with a romantic relationship”.  I would not put the latter quite like that but would say instead that my business is mine alone unless I choose to divulge it on my own terms and most definitely not because I have deigned to be intimate and secrets are unhelpful in functional relationships.  That is my life and as you will notice, in my statement I made no presumptions on the life choices of anybody but myself.  For those fortunate souls who manage to have their cake and eat it too, I salute them in good spirits and congratulate them on the hand Tyche dealt them.

So, there you have it…a succinct insight into what weighed on my mind and thoughts before I entered the auditorium and perhaps contributed to the delusion that swiftly made its roots once the feature film began.  Now, on to the workings of my addled and defective brain that gave me eyes that find pleasure in pain.

Anastastia Steele is a passive, Vestal Virgin, manipulative character who asks Christian Grey to “enlighten” her.  So, in that regard I am relieved that I was not flung into her mind.  Christian Grey, on the opposite side of the coin, is complex yet straightforward and sad – a much more suitable vessel in which I can vicariously live.  The sadistic aspects of his life are not as strong with me but I too had a “rough start in life” and am still in the process of finding my ground on which I can base the rest of my life.  The dark heart of Grey is a mirror image of my own torn and broken heart.

I enjoy inflicting pain on others despite my general desire to do good in the world.  Long ago, I found that no matter how hard I tried the sadness, blackness and putrefaction in my soul destroyed that which I held dear and loved.  I am a true soul-destroyer, which is why I would never give myself to any man or woman again.  I do love someone as dearly and fiercely as Christian loves Anastasia, but as much as he flays her body through love, I would – unintentionally and unconsciously – take my pound of flesh straight from the very essence of the man I love, from his most prized possession…his heart.  The one thing I have better than Mr. Grey is that my willpower is made of sterner stuff.  “Fuck the paperwork” comes too quickly.  I value the innocence and happiness of the one I love with all my grey heart to put my own desires above that.  If I did not have this one selfless bone in my ruined body, I would have nothing, for if he wasn’t the only light in my life, if I blotted it out, there would be nothing to stop me from succumbing to the darkness.

Through Christian’s eyes, his deeds, his perversions, I inflicted harm on Ana, the representation of all those who cannot understand suffering because their lives have been plain-sailing all the way.  Of course, everyone suffers in their own way, but Ana is the exact way I see those who cannot understand or underestimate those who have endured childhood trauma, mental illnesses.  She does not understand Christian, she changes Christian (and not for the better, according to me), she willingly misunderstands the man and then finds him culpable.  See, the problem with delusions for me?  Most people find Anastasia the victim, the put-upon girlfriend of a psychopathic control freak, but I – in my mind – empathise with and am drawn straight into Christian.  I heard “bastard”, “dick” and other such terms spat at poor Jamie Dornan on-screen, but Ana, who teases and leads on and knows not her own mind, was just the target of scoffs and pity for her poor decision-making.

See it's not sexy, is it, the lip-biting?  (P. Mistry-Norman, Odeon Exeter, 15-02-2015)

See it’s not sexy, is it, the lip-biting? (P. Mistry-Norman, Odeon Exeter, 15-02-2015)

I found very little of the movie erotic or in anyway romantic, particularly not biting lips, but in its own way, despite the abysmal screenplay or plot, it spoke to me and pulled me in.  It gave me comfort, to be out of my own eyes and those of Lucrezia Borgia and Cordelia, and into new ones with unfamiliar sights and thoughts behind them.  For, after all both Christian Grey and I are fifty shades of fucked up, and there’s no one to help or to change that fact.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

16-02-2015

Help from a Housemate

I just wanted to share with you all another bit of kindness and love that someone gave to me yesterday.  My house-daughter and flatmate, Katie, came back from a weekend in Totnes and brought me back this postcard just to help me not be depressed and feel as lonely as I ever do.  I am always mildly surprised by the way my flatmates put up with my nonexistence and ornery presence in our home, but this a lovely thing to do that she didn’t have to, which makes it all the more special.  So today, after the success of Jack’s article about talking openly about mental health and helping people just because you can – and you know you can – I want to say thank you to someone who has helped me just by being their usual kind and lovely self. I’ll be sure to bring you something special back from the Game of Thrones Exhibition today.
10978631_10153549406676521_6646300915097484906_nLaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

10-02-2015

Time to Change & Time to Talk Day

For those of you who do not know, Time to Talk Day was four days ago and I missed it!  However, as someone who keeps a blog on mental health and is extremely open about her own problems in that area, I feel I have given more than a year’s worth of five minutes talking about my depression, anxiety disorder and mythomania.  So, it gives me great pleasure – and I thank him very much for opting to give his five minutes to LaBellaBorgia Speaks – to introduce you to the writing of Jack again, who has written very well and to great effect here previously.

P. Mistry-Norman


You may remember me, I wrote here previously about my experiences with Borderline Personality Disorder (https://labellaborgia.wordpress.com/2014/11/08/living-with-borderline-personality-disorder/). For those, however, who do not, my name is Jack Jeffreys. I am twenty three. I live with Borderline Personality Disorder and Rapid Cycling Mood Disorder (Bipolar).

Today I want to talk about Time To Change, a charity aiming to reduce and eradicate mental health stigma. Today, 5th February, is Time To Talk Day. The idea is that you take five minutes to discuss mental health – so get a cup of tea because I’m taking my five minutes with you all now. However, I do not really want to talk about my mental health. I want to talk about the work Time To Change do, and why I think it is vital. Vital in the present, and vital in the future. In our generation and for generations to come.

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I work with Time To Change through the Advocacy Project based in St. Charles Square, Ladbroke Grove. I do not get to spend a huge amount of time with them because of work, but I give them as many days off as I can afford. We go to public areas, and set up cafes. People can never turn down free tea and cake, and in return we discuss mental health with them. This always starts very one sided, but by the end it completely flips and I am left listening to the random member of the public. This is because so many people have a lived experience of mental health.

One in four people in the UK suffer from mental health “issues”. You have to remember mental health is a sliding scale from suffering from stress, through anxiety and depression, up to addiction, personality, obsessive, psychiatric, neurotic, eating, or mood disorders. When you think of it like this one in four does not sound so extreme.

At Time To Change we aim to challenge people’s views on mental health, and bring them into the twenty first century. We discuss statistics: one in six people in work in the UK have a mental health condition, and roughly 11% of the population is on anti-depressants. We discuss people like Stephen Fry and Winston Churchill, who suffer/suffered with Bipolar; Jim Carrey, who suffers with depression; Heath Ledger, who suffered with drug abuse; and John Prescott, who suffered with Bulimia. We aim to make mental health something that everyone can relate to. We aim to make mental health less scary.

Once we get into a discussion with people, they often start asking questions about mental health. There are some very common mental health myths.

Myth: If you suffer from a mental health condition you can be violent and unpredictable.

Fact: Suffering from a mental health condition makes you no more violent than anyone else. Only 3-5% of violent attacks are attributed to mental health, and when you consider that 25% of people suffer with some form of mental health, the myth does not really add up. In fact, it actually works the other way. In the US, you are ten times more likely to be a victim of violent crime if you suffer from mental health.

Myth: If you suffer from mental health problem you can snap out of it if you try hard enough.

Fact: Suffering from a mental health conditions has very little to do with being a weak person, it often requires help, in some form, to get better. Different forms of therapy help different conditions, generally. Mindfulness is the real mental health buzz word/therapy at the moment. Many factors attribute to mental health problems, such as biological factors (genetics or injury) or life experience (trauma and abuse). Many people recover from mental health conditions, but you cannot put time on this. There is no rule for how long it takes to get better; it is not the same as a broken leg.

Myth: YOU cannot help someone with a mental health condition.

Fact: I know a lot of people with mental health conditions. The little things mean the most. Friends telling them they are there to help or helping them access mental health services. Treating them with respect, just like anyone else. Generally being a friend or family member, just how you were, before mental health became an issue. Refusing to allow someone to be defined by diagnosis – I am bipolar but I do not have to act that way. And making it a ‘normal’ thing.

Myth: All you need to do is take tablets.

Fact: This works for some people. But for lots of people this is not the whole answer. A combination of therapy and medication is important. In some cases medication is not even required. I believe anti-depressants are drastically over prescribed by the NHS. This is because of an ever reducing mental health budget.

Myth: Children do not experience mental health problems.

Fact: Half of all mental health disorders show first signs by the age of fourteen, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before the age of twenty four.

There are many more than this, but these are the most common myths we hear.

The important thing about Time To Change is the attempt to normalize mental health. Mental health is not going to disappear. In the high stress world that many people live in, it will only become more prevalent. And without wanting to make this political, under the current government, treatment is becoming less available. Therefore it is vital we are in a position to help each other.

I guess I am urging you to avoid awkward conversations, and to be that person who talks openly about mental health. Go and do research. Find out the truth. Do not shy away from it. If you have a friend or a family member who suffers with any form of mental health, break down the invisible barriers that exist in society, and talk about it. Mental health is not something to be scared or threatened by.

To conclude, I make no apology for not talking about my mental health. If you know me, or have read what I written previously, you will know I am very open and will discuss anything you want to know about me. Today is not about my mental health. It is about building a foundation for our generation, and generations to come. A foundation that allows our friends and family to feel comfortable speaking out and seeking help. Start talking about mental health. Go and have another cup of tea. Go and talk about it over dinner. I’ve taken my five minutes today. Now go and take yours.

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

J. Jeffreys

09-02-2015

Learning and Students

Hello again, just as a humorous/helpful note.  This was in one of my lectures on teaching yesterday and I found it rather amusing, especially as I want to ‘specialise’ in mental health in teaching and education.  Just see which of the students (and maybe the teacher?) are exhibiting or potentially have a mental health condition in the classroom.  As my mental health problems were missed at school, just take a moment to look and hopefully, this might help people look more at the people in their offices and classrooms and generic workplaces and see what they’re missing because it has not got a neon flashing Las Vegas light above it screaming “I’m depressed” or “I suffer from Bipolar Disorder”.  Physical ailments are easy to notice (a pair of crutches, a bandage, a limp, a wince?) but try your hand at mental ailments and you might find you help someone and yourself in the process.

GroeningCartoonLaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

02-12-2014

Let it Go

I am about to attempt something completely new and different (can you tell that’s the theme over the past week or so?).  I am going to attempt to communicate the way I feel about depression and social anxiety and coping with the aforementioned through music and a video blog.  So, this post is less wordy than my others but I hope you will play the video below and listen and see what it is I want to say but often am unable to.  Otherwise, stick around and the next post in my guest series will be up presently!

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

12-11-2014