Tag Archive | statistics

Holiday Blues

I am about to go to the United States with Contiki on Wednesday on what will be one of the biggest – and longest – adventures I’ve ever done.  That is my summer vacation (see, I’m already mastering the lingo!), but one holiday planned and approaching only makes me begin to think about my next one, which of course, for a British girl is Christmas 2015.

Christmas is a strange holiday, one about which I have mixed feelings.  When I was a younger girl I adored it.  Not because of the gifts or the great meal or because it was a time when family made the effort not to bicker and bite, but because it was a time when I was part of something…something great, memorable and important.  Ever since my paternal grandparents passed (my grandfather died quite some time ago, a nonagenarian and my nana died years after him in her 100s), Christmas has never been the same.  For a few years after, we still went up – as was tradition – to Whitnash in Warwickshire and had Christmas with my father’s sister and her family, but that did not last.  After that, the adults of the family (I was still at school and about 13 years old, I reckon) decided that presents would no longer be shared among everyone but that instead my father would give to his niece and nephew and my aunt and uncle would give to me.  Though, seeing as my cousins are closed in age to my mother and father than I am to anyone else, I was still the baby of the family and it still feels, as we haven’t had a ‘proper’ Christmas since that Christmas was another thing I loved that got taken away from me undeservingly and unwillingly.  I don’t get the wrapped gifts anymore, I don’t get to sit round a decorated tree and listen to the Queen’s speech (though admittedly that might be the thing I miss least!), I don’t feel the spirit of Christmas anymore.

My dad always says that Christmas is for children, so maybe as an adult I shouldn’t care or I should feel that it was only natural that Christmas should be cancelled as there’s no one younger in the family that celebrated Christmas together than me and I’m all growed up.  I disagree with my father.  Christmas isn’t for children.  It’s for family.  It’s for togetherness.  It is for home.  Just because members of the family who died naturally first are gone does not mean the world shuts down and what makes the living happy dies along with them.  If it did, wouldn’t the world be a depressing place?

I may sound callous, but I am one of the most unfeeling people, so I’ve been told, concerning death and sympathy for bereaved.  My motto is that people die and that’s the natural order of things.  I’ve felt grief but I have not the constitution or the mindset to let it claim me or take things away from me.  The most I have ever felt and constantly feel to this day concerning grief and the death of someone loved is that my godbrother died when he was only just out of school close to Christmas and I never met him but if he had not died I doubt my godparents would be my godparents.  So, the only thing I ever think is that if I could I would swap with him.  I never met him but the amount I love my godparents and their son and his family, I would do anything to spare them from losing such a valued member of their family, whereas if I could, I would gladly sell my wretched soul to the devil if he sent Tim back to his family.  You can tell from all the photos and painting of him that there was brightness and happiness in his soul, and he was taken before his time, whereas my soul is black as pitch and I’m still here to miss Christmas and lose my sanity bit by bit.  Why should I be here suffering when I so wish sometimes that I could be put out of my misery and many people could benefit from someone much better and much more loved than me taking my place on an earth that to him, I’m sure, would have been full of glee and unknown contentment?  And Christmases with his family…

Anyway, I’m getting sidetracked!  The point was that I feel things so differently from others because somewhere along my brain broke, that my feelings about the dead are so warped and confused that I hold the unknown dead so dear in my heart but cannot wrap my head around how the death of my grandparents resulted in the death of Christmas.

At Christmas time, the world is bombarded through social media with photos of happy celebrations and times spent with the family.  There are, naturally, instances where Christmas is a time of sadness and grief and loneliness as it has become for me, but usually pictorial evidence of that state of mind during the Yuletide rarely makes it onto the likes of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.  Actually, though the idea of suicides being more common in the Christmas holidays is shown to be a myth (see the links to the CDC report), as it has been found that the summer months actually see higher rates of suicide and suicide attempts than the winter.  However, for Christmas to be no more a time when I wonder why the hell I’m on this planet, traditional Christmases like I remember when I was in my formative years would have to resume.  I tried to make a go of it and force it myself, for who can you blame if you don’t make an effort yourself, yet I having Christmas in a student property in Exeter was almost twice as depressing because I actually plucked up the courage to invest my heart in it.  That was the last time I even contemplated trying to resuscitate the Ghost of Christmas Past and accept that what my Ghost of Christmas Future was showing me was a lifetime’s supply of Christmases travelling and forgetting that December 25th has any significance whatsoever.

Last year, I went to Morocco for the Christmas holidays on an Explore tour and as an Islamic country I saw maybe two Christmas trees maximum.  There was no atmosphere of the holiday at all and weirdly I loved it.  On Christmas Day itself, we arrived in Rabat and the Holiday Blues were starting to get to me a bit so I left the group for a day and explored the city on my own in my “Frozen” t-shirt with Olaf on the front saying “I like warm hugs”.  That was the only Christmassy element of that trip but I thought about what other families back home were doing and enjoying together and it made me realise I will never stop looking for that.  One day, I won’t have to save up to go travelling the Silk Road or Jordan or Ethiopia.  One day, the only thing I’ll have to save up for is turkey with the fixings for a family of my own.  That is a day I’ll love, but it still gets me down that I’m about as close to getting that day as I am to getting to hold my son in my arms.

Just for information’s sake, here are some useful links to articles and reports concerning Christmas holiday suicide and suicide epidemiology in general:

http://www.cdc.gov/ViolencePrevention/suicide/holiday.html

http://www.samaritans.org/sites/default/files/kcfinder/branches/branch-96/files/Suicide_statistics_report_2015.pdf

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2040383/

http://www.ons.gov.uk/ons/taxonomy/index.html?nscl=Suicide+Rates

LaBellaBorgia Speaks,

P. Mistry-Norman

24-07-2015

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.

time-to-talk-290x169

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