Autumn 2018

Pennine Care NHS

In treatment for anxiety, depression & post-trauma. Currently in receipt of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Metacognitive Therapy. Also a member of Pennine Care Foundation Trust.

Stockport Mental Health

Pennine Care NHS Recovery and Inclusion team operate the prevention and personalisation service in Stockport Town Centre. Stockport Mind and Stockport Progress and Recovery Centre work with NHS staff to deliver the referral-only service. In 2014 through to 2015, while being supported at PPS, I was trained in health and social care and mental health awareness.

Mind, the mental health charity for England & Wales

I have been part of the Mind membership since 2015. I enjoy receiving mental health news from the charity since partaking in a digital media project with them. The digital project was based on my diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Talking Therapies Week 12

I have been in therapy for 12 weeks now, and I feel that it is a good time to speak of my experience thus far. As therapy is a very personal process, I won’t go into too much detail about the queasy details; I do not want to trigger any flashbacks for readers in this regard.

From what I can make out from my therapist, I have been engaged with cognitive behavioural therapy, meta-cognitive therapy, and full blown counselling interchangeably through my time in therapy. The way my therapist described what we were doing is that cbt starts with the first layer, meta-cognitive therapy goes a layer deeper, and counselling will continue to deeper layers of psychology.

Breakthroughs in therapy so far include the discovery that I have experienced dissociative states. What I described as “feeling numb” and “slow motion” actually turns out to be me dissociating from my immediate surroundings. It is empowering knowing this now, and hopefully armed with this knowledge, it will equip me to better deal with the unnerving effects of dissociation in the future.

The therapist has spent time grounding me, helping me to restore my equilibrium. I have run experiences by him that I have had, thoughts that I experience, and subsequent triggers into anger following my thoughts on these experiences. While my language can be hostile when I have triggered, my underlying reasons for triggering are not of a violent nature, but flashbacks to similar experiences I have endured. The problem is that we have identified that a lot of these experiences were probably coincidental and did not relate to my experiences in the way that I may have perceived them to do so.

This leads on to our next breakthrough in therapy, in identifying experiences similar to psychosis, if not actual full blown bouts of psychosis. At the meta-cognitive level, under each trigger, are feelings of doubt in people’s motives, a distrust for authority and a dislike for the abuse of power by individuals or organisations. We believe that my former experiences affect how I perceive the environment around me in each moment. I have recognised that I see things through personal experience and not always as things perhaps are. I have perhaps projected my own experiences into unrelated scenarios and then got in a muddle and entangled with some things that perhaps were nothing related to me after all. I also remember watching content that appeared to be negative to a character’s life experiences. I immediately took offence, feeling that the content was stigma-like; it almost sounded like a political message embedded into a would be innocent animation.

Having campaigned in the digital media domain with Mind, the mental health charity, the overlap of digital marketing made me uncomfortable and weary. It appeared to me that a lot of content that I was exposed to was suddenly political, and in my experience, politics was divisive and toxic. For me, it might be natural to be obtuse to politics if I sensed it nearing my personal online space. It’s these kinds of experiences and my reactions to them, that I believe gives a strong indication that psychosis has been playing a part in my woes.

I cannot say that it has been the easiest journey so far, but therapy is going well. I hadn’t expected it to be so thorough. I feel very lucky to be looking at week 13 approaching and still having ongoing therapy. I know that in some services, and in some parts of the country, therapy concludes after 6-12 sessions. High points for me include going into counselling and really looking at my life in a finer detail. Also, with attention training based on the meta-cognitive model, I really do feel like I am having the full works when it comes to talking therapies.

Mental Health & Stigma

2018 marks the year that I finally began to receive treatment for mental health illness. I have spent much of the year being supported by a service called the Early Intervention Team. The Early Intervention Team work with people who describe having episodes of psychosis or other similar experiences. Paranoia, following emotional abuse, has played a big part in why I was referred to the Early Intervention Team.

I began my journey with Stockport Mental Health Services in 2014. With a history of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, I had felt that I had gone as far as I could on my own in managing my diagnoses; that seeking professional help would assist me in ironing out some of my most persistent symptoms. My post-traumatic stress disorder diagnosis is linked to human on human violence.

In the past, I had been met with emotional abuse for my want to be open about my mental ill health. This was not limited to just day to day reality, but also the online world. With years of derogatory communications aimed at me, my own language and communication skills became impaired. Long gone was the world that I recognised; the world of common etiquette and a professional tone in correspondence. Now, I was becoming accustomed to being in and around environments which would prod me for confrontation or jibe at my mental ill health problems. I had never been trained in how to handle emotional abuse. I have previously found myself engaging it with return fire.

Stigma is an area of mental health which has received a lot of attention from mental health charities in the four years that I have been involved with mental health services. With this in mind, and as I moved from community support through to mental health treatment, I began to realise how prevalent stigma has been in my life thus far. In fact, I believe much of my poor mental health is directly related to the emotional abuse that I have endured in my life. It brings me to the question, which came first, emotional abuse or mental ill health?

When I look back through my life, I come to the conclusion that emotional abuse has played a big part in my mental ill health plight. Violent events that I have experienced were of course distressing, and did give rise to mental illness diagnoses, but my overall diagnosis now encompasses the idea that I have faced a high frequency of emotional abuse throughout my life. I have come to realise that emotional abuse was prevalent long before I experienced violence in my young adult life; it only grew following my onset of PTSD and also the rise of social media.

Stigma is emotional abuse. In its extreme form, emotional abuse is one of the factors leading to a diagnosis of complex post-traumatic disorder. With stigma being a form of emotional abuse, I am now more mindful of the boundaries that I set for the people that I meet in my life. Training in therapy is helping me to walk away from abusive relationships. Slowly, I am learning healthier ways to alleviate my frustrations at being on the receiving end of stigma and emotional abuse in my life. 

Palomino; Man of Horse

Phyllis is my mother and has been pottering around with her artworks for as long as I can remember; certainly the whole of my adult life. Over the decades she has moved through varying styles of art, often being a trend setter.

With a former exhibition at the Emmeline Pankhurst Centre to her name, Phyllis auctions her work through a reputable art dealer based in Knutsford.

Phyllis takes recent works to exhibition with the Didsbury Parsonage Trust from the 5th of August 2018. Come by and experience some original Mancunian culture.

 

A Moment of Truth

It dawned on me recently that my life has been somewhat a mystery to those whom have discovered me through being mentally ill, and in my own way, trying to air out my thoughts and feelings over the last few years. I suppose the journey that leads me to the now began in 2013. I had been suffering from mental ill health for some ten years by this point and I had had more than my fair share of conflict in life. I had decided that in 2013 the best way to proceed, following a life of traumatic events, would be to go on to study at the local college.

Sure enough, in the Summer of 2013 I went to Stockport College’s open day event whereby prospective students would be able to enquire about the courses available with the varying tutors of said courses. Knowing little about the education system, I went along beaming with all sorts of ideas of what I may be able to study. I distinctly remember thinking about psychology and how I would like to put pen to paper regarding my own psychological theories. I soon found out that I was aiming a little high for college study. I was confusing college with university study. Of the subjects I enquired about, many were packed into level 3 access diplomas and I did not have a mathematics grade of C or above to be able to enrol for an access course. I thus enquired about what I could study with the college. I soon found myself in the room where the GCSE maths stall was set out.

I enquired about Maths with little in the way of surety that I would take it on at all. Never the less, I took a test prepared for prospective students to see where my maths skills were up to. Although with hindsight the maths test seemed simple, I was pleasantly surprised that I got 14 out of the 15 questions correct. I had expected to do much worse given my long hiatus from education; it had been 16 years since I had left full time education. Following the test, I met with a tutor whom told me of her own journey with mathematics in later life. She had begun studying for a maths degree in her thirties. This, while also bringing up children. Inspired, I went on to enrol for the course. It was part of my plan to move on from a past littered with trauma and conflict. In my early twenties I used to like to go out to dance, and from time to time, I would also perform as a DJ, though I mainly kept this as a hobby, with a full-blown life of other commitments.

It wasn’t until 2011 that I truly began to reflect on the former decade and how I would like to move forward in my future. You see, at this stage of my life I had only just come to terms with an assault which had occurred in 2004. I had spent from 2004 to 2009 working towards taking those responsible to trial. In 2009, the case collapsed. This was because my legal aid had been stripped; my chance of success at trial was deemed to be poor. It took me two further years to come to terms with the long legal journey that began in 2004. Its fruitless conclusion left a bitter aftertaste. A deep depression followed. It wouldn’t be until the April of 2011 that I felt able to let go of what was. Additionally, I had only just begun to feel that I knew how to do it; I decided that I should destroy all records to do with my legal journey.

I chose to destroy documentation to do with my legal journey because I would re-read correspondence over and over. In doing so, the documents would trigger emotion that I found difficult to control. While living alone, it proved difficult to distract myself with daily human interaction. I found myself brooding. This lead to me triggering with ptsd fight mode responses quite often. With no one around that I could air out my thoughts to, I would find myself on social media making the same points repeatedly to anybody whom would listen or engage with me. I had realised this behaviour was unhealthy for me and that the files needed to go. I burned them one April morning in a field close to my home.

By the time 2011 came, and just as I was attempting to distance from my overuse of social media, my cousin died. This became headline news nationally, though the reasons why are irrelevant to this blog entry. However, what is relevant is that this event and what was to follow clashed with the year I had finally felt that I had found closure regarding my own turbulent history. It ripped my world apart. Online abuse soon followed. There were those whom were outspoken about the details in the media that would transpire about my cousin’s life and subsequent death. It took me a further two years of navigating the social media realm with a new impetus in my social networks that perhaps had people look at me in a different way. It was also new artillery to level at me for those whom had previously spent their time abusing me online. It would not be until around the Summer of 2013 that this would all fizzle out for me, and not before I’d completely ‘skitzed out’ in trying to fend off a never-ending stream of online abuse. And so, I found myself in Stockport college, investigating the potential of me taking up further education and setting my life off in a new direction.

Maths class started in September 2013. I would have two-and-a-half-hour tuition sessions twice a week in the older part of the college. It was literally like going back to high school. The way the college was set out, and the building itself, harped back to my high school of the 90s which was very 1960s/70s in its aesthetics. Maintaining a Facebook profile at home allowed for trickles of abuse to continue. It wasn’t until the end of 2013 that I decided that I could no longer weed out friend from foe and that it was also distracting me from my studies. My prior activities online had collided many kinds of folk together in what seemed like a good idea at the time but would transpire to perhaps be a bad idea. I decided to go for it and delete my profile. I distinctly remember thinking that I know where all my friends and family are in life, and that I would no longer need a Facebook profile that was convoluted in its purpose for me. This would give me the chance to take college study more seriously. A leap of faith was what I believed I needed. I remember thinking back to the burning of my legal case files in 2011, and how liberating it was to let go of the old. If I am going to study for a new start in life, I would have to let go of the old is what I came to believe.

Moving into 2014, I began to have misgivings about my choices. A deep depression ensued. I felt that I had nothing. I was nearing the age of 33 and thus far, I felt that I had nothing that could show what I had done with my life since leaving full time education at the age of 16. All I had was maths, and in between I would be sat at home without a Facebook profile to socialise with friends and family. I set up a Twitter profile to have some sort of connection with the world at large. However, being in the grip of a deep depression made for my twitter feed becoming a place to air out my worst to anyone that might listen. My feed became a moan of everything that had happened to me over the former decade. I deemed the people whom had been active through that decade would probably find me online in the end, and so effort was put into ‘telling’ people, out there somewhere, to keep out of my life and that I had now moved on. I believed that with deleting Facebook I had made a definitive choice in my future. I just needed to convince those whom came looking for me that those choices were fixed; the abuse of me online was to be over. Musical activities online were to be over. My future was to be ‘normal’, whatever that meant. I knew it meant study in the short term, but I was still pondering where my life would lead in the medium and the longer term.

March came, and having gone through a difficult winter, not least with a form of stalking around my home, I rang a form of mental health services in Stockport. I believe I had perhaps mentioned my worsening depression to my doctor, and that I will have been tipped as to what support is available. I came across Stockport Mind and their services from searches online. I rang up the telephone number provided and was told about their drop-in service in the town centre. Having described symptoms of deep depression and fleeting thoughts of suicide, I would get a call back some days later to make sure that I was OK, and to reaffirm the invitation to come along to the drop-in service. I distinctly remember thinking after the first call, that I had felt alright for a few days, and so did not need to attend. I was thankful for the call back. I soon attended the drop-in service where I was met by the woman whom I had spoken to on the telephone.

Going to the drop-in service that Stockport Mind & Pennine Care NHS operated proved to be somewhat the lifeline that I was seeking. I now had two commitments a week away from my address; home was somewhere that I wanted to distance from to get away from the noise in my locale. There was oftentimes distraction around my home address. I found the drop-in intimidating at first. Walking into a room full of strangers was no easy task for me. It would have been all too easy to turn away once I had arrived. I put aside my feelings of discomfort, deeming my life required me to do this.

I cannot remember if my Maths exams were in the May or June of 2014. The journey to them proved to be full of obstacles for me to overcome. I had mental health problems that would affect me until today, while my physical health was not up to much either. I had bouts of chronic toothache, and social issues continued to burden my life at home. As the exams came closer, I began asking questions of what is next for myself? There were those in my class whom were inspired to investigate access courses at the college. Access courses lead to university study. Thus far, I did not believe I would be the kind of person that would or could go onto university, but the idea of doing further college appealed to me. I decided that I might give it a go, and that I would not necessarily need to attend university if I did not want to.

I got my Maths exams result in the Summer and panic stations were over. I had gained an A. I didn’t know whether to be pleasantly surprised or look back on the year’s events, suddenly realising that they had perhaps cost me an A star. I don’t think that I would have thought it possible for me to attain an A star, but in seeing that I achieved an A with so many problems along the way, I was sure my best was yet to come in terms of study. Over the summer I would take out a course that I was able to study on my computer at home. This was in IT.

I felt that my Maths grade had made the choice in whether to take up further education at college for me. I thus enrolled on an access course in the subjects of Creative Writing, English Literature and Media. The course was due to begin in the September and would see me attending the college nearly every day of the week. I had no idea about what kind of degree I could do following it. I essentially didn’t know what I wanted to do. I just knew that I wanted to advance in college following success with Maths.

At the same time as enrolling for access at the college, I was offered the opportunity to take up training via the mental health services provided by Stockport Mind. They had trained me in the key themes of mental health, and through a partner organisation in Stockport, had offered me the chance to volunteer on site. This enabled me to take on further study in Health & Social Care. It seemed so simple to me. I could go to college through the week, and while attending therapeutic mental health centres whom would help me with my own mental well-being, I could become qualified in support work. It would take little more effort than I was already putting in I deemed. Perhaps only one further assignment a month. I was aware that some of the assignments were evidence-based discussions centred on activity in my volunteer role, and so it was a no-brainer to me. I could convert my own mental health support and volunteering role into a qualification with relative ease. It was here that I pondered on my future with mental health and that it perhaps could be a new career in the making.

College was going well. My first three assignments produced two distinctions and a merit. In the degree route that I was looking at, I would only need those assignments to be two merits and a pass. It seemed I was excelling, and in some ways, it gave me food for thought, in that I may be wasting the opportunity presented. I was doing exceptionally well, yet the degree route that I was looking at required far less of me. I began to downgrade my efforts somewhat, gauging that I didn’t need to put as many hours in at home.

As October 2014 came to pass, I started becoming unwell, both physically and mentally. The same issues that had reared their head in the previous winter, and had threatened the maths course I had enrolled on, began creeping in as the winter drew in. The days and the nights grew colder. My accommodation needed modernising. Each winter would give rise to physical illness in myself, due to the cold and damp conditions at home; I was unable to heat the property properly and this was what impacted my physical and mental health each winter.

Working through the winter on college assignments became increasingly difficult. I began to lose consciousness at home while trying to study. I had to come away from college. It was in a lot of pain across my body. I believe I was suffering from the effects of hypothermia. Moving into 2015 saw my health continue to decline and in the space of that winter I lost over three stone of body mass. It was here I deemed that I would probably not be able to catch up with college work, and that I would most likely have to leave it there for this academic year. I had more luck with my Health & Social Diploma. With flexibility at the heart of the course, I was given an extension and went on to complete it later in 2015.

Since 2015, my overall health had continued to decline. While it is true to say that I recovered from the hypothermia in 2015, my body was not left the same. I believe that hypothermia impacted on my thyroid, knocking on to hormone production. Anxiety exploded into being for me in 2015 and has been with me to a greater or lesser degree ever since. Having started my mental health journey via primary care in 2014, as of this year, I am a fully-fledged service user in secondary care. With the aid of medication, and the removal of stressful factors in life, my anxiety is now somewhat under control.

Following three difficult years, 2018 is most certainly the start of my full mental health journey. I am thus far enjoying the revelation that it has become for me. I am learning so much about myself and while banding around talk of ptsd for the past 14 years, it is only since gaining secondary care support that it finally feels real to me. I have post-traumatic stress disorder, and it is a condition taken seriously by the medical profession at large.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy

On the 2nd July I started Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. I agreed with my therapist that I would keep much of the detail confidential, though I did inform him that I still wanted to write about the experience, and how I am finding it on the whole. I will thus write without giving too much detail as to what we discussed.

The opening cbt session began by exploring root problems. I do not mind sharing with you that I have feelings of distrust for people and their motivation for approaching me in this life. Indeed, I wrote about this feeling of distrust in a former blog entry. With the therapist’s support, I aim to reduce my apprehension when it comes to approach in life. I need to learn how to trust, and that potential new relationships will not necessarily end up as conflicts. This is something I may have been biased into believing.

Now cbt is fully underway for me, I feel in a happier place. I now believe that just maybe, I can actually move forward with my life and start to think about the things that matter to me more often. I do not mind sharing that I have resented life in perpetual conflict. We are going to work on these feelings of frustration. As my therapist put it to me, I used to be an outgoing person, so what has gone wrong? I hope those whom are reading can support me on my continuing journey to mental well-being and emotional resilience.

Major Depression

This is the final in a series of blogs intended to shed light on my mental health and the challenges it throws up in my day to day life.

When thinking of depression, I consider it from a viewpoint, that it is normal to me; it seems to me that I have always suffered from depression. Though not quite factual, it is not far from the truth in terms of adult life. My twenties were consumed with depression, and it stuck with me into my early thirties. Times got better but not for long enough for me to take advantage of that time, for it was not too long before the stresses of college and career were on my mind.

I believe that I had read that if suffering from depression for two years and are medicated to help with effects of anxiety and depression, then it is considered to be major depression. I certainly had felt that the last three years have perhaps been my darkest years thus far. Although the past was littered with violence, and this was not true of my thirties, some social factors harped back to a bygone time reminiscent of my early twenties.

I gave an inkling that I had suffered from depression for a number of years, by writing about it back in 2015. Things however progressed from looking at depression as something behind me, to a new challenge up ahead of me. You see, I have been searching for my own answer through writing as to what specifically depressed me about the former three years. Recent blogs I have typed up may help you to identify the factors that lead to the rise of depression in my life, but I cannot pinpoint exactly where major depression began through the events that I have mentioned in them. I just know that it has been there for the most part of those three years at the very least.

Of course, having CPTSD traits makes for depression being a symptom. I am aware that many events trigger a ptsd type response from myself, so perhaps I am depressed with the quality of life I have in living with PTSD; in how I handle challenges with a diagnosis of PTSD; and how I will perceive life around me with a diagnosis of PTSD. But overall, I tend to conclude that depression has no logical course for me, or any one specific event I can point to and say that is why. Moreover, it is the culmination of many things, be it social factors through to medical factors, and/or psychiatric factors.

With PTSD, I feel in a better place, which you would automatically think would impact positively on my depression. In some ways that may be true, but also, I can’t help having feelings of regret in my own handling of my life challenges over the last three years. This in turn knocks on to my depression, and I do wonder what kind of life may await me one day. At the moment, I demand very little of myself and accept treatment via NHS assistance is perhaps the best route for me to continue to explore these fundamental questions about myself. Despite my experience, my mental health journey feels like it has only just begun.

Medication

For some time I have suffered with the debilitating effects of anxiety. This, as a symptom of my diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Over the last few years, anxiety has been my companion everywhere I go and while it is true to say that addressing underlying problems causing anxiety would be beneficial, this is no full answer on its own.

Last year, on advice from the doctor, I had tried medication to reduce the symptoms of anxiety.  Although they work in a slightly different way, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) target the area of the brain that ecstasy also does. They work by stopping the brain absorb previously released serotonin. The idea being, that with more previously released serotonin present in the brain, the less anxious and depressed a person would feel. A low serotonin count is said to be a causative effect of depression.

My experience with SSRIs did not go well. On each occasion I have tried the medication, uncontrollable thought has risen drastically. I’d felt further depressed than I was at the time of taking them, and side effects such as drowsiness and slurring made day to day life thereafter quite difficult. I was aware, on doctor advice, that SSRIs tended to make people feel worse before they felt better, and that after the first month I would feel much better in myself. The problem was, I could barely manage to stay the course of medication for two or three weeks before I had to stop taking them; the side effects were too great for me to handle.

The last time I attempted SSRI medication was around the summertime of last year. A doctor had intervened during mental health decline concluding that I was ‘quite poorly’. The doctor decided that I should be medicated immediately, so as to assist me with debilitating symptoms anxiety and PTSD. As alluded to, it was not my first attempt on SSRI medication. I had been prescribed them before, and as would transpire again, had come away from them due to their side effects. This time though, things were going to be different, I thought. With the assistance of family, I went about setting up a period of respite whereby I could stay in the family home while starting the latest SSRI prescription. The plan was to stay for at least a month, perhaps two, until the medication had settled down for me, and the side effects had dissipated as negligible.

I find it difficult to remember what happened next. I think I manage several weeks, just short of two months, before I returned home. I do remember however, that in returning home, I found myself over medicating myself so as to reduce symptoms of anxiety. I was aware that the medication didn’t exactly work in the manner I was administering them, never the less I tried in vain to fend off symptoms of anxiety by increasing the dosage sharply. However, instead of reducing the symptoms of anxiety, they gave me added symptoms related to serotonin overdose. Rushes would travel the length of my spine, while my eyesight could only be described as trippy. Memory is short, but I believe following accidental overdose, and some medical assistance, I came off of the medication, deeming they were not correct for me.

This year, I was prescribed Risperidone by my consultant psychiatrist. Risperidone is an anti-psychotic medication usually prescribed to those with schizophrenia whom are displaying symptoms of psychosis. I asked my psychiatrist why he was prescribing the medication to me. He told me that it would assist me with my symptoms of anxiety. Feeling dubious, and that I had heard this all before, I reluctantly agreed to try the medication out.

After a difficult start on the medication, with drowsiness weighing particularly heavily on my body, it turned out that they did help with my symptoms of anxiety. Furthermore, I had found that the medicine relieved me of some of the symptoms of PTSD that I was experiencing. Reduced was the ‘frazzled’ feeling in the brain. Reduced was me triggering through the day. I could not believe how successful the medication was at assisting me.

I did some further research on the medication and found articles which confirmed that it could help with people with being able to think more clearly. This was something I had never expected from any medication. To my mind, there was no type of medication that could help with PTSD in that manner. I had always believed, through doctor advice over the years, that symptoms such as anxiety and depression could be addressed via medication, but not PTSD and its triggers.

I am not a doctor, and I am not sure how Risperidone works, but of those reading whom suffer with debilitating anxiety or PTSD, I cannot recommend enough this medication. I really do believe that without them I would be experiencing far more anxiety than I currently do and going through far more PTSD triggers.

Fatigue & Burnout

Those whom have shared my life with me at any time over the last five years will know that I had been engaged with working through accredited courses. Said courses intended to compliment my prior working life history. I found the work rewarding at first, but as time went on, and with more and more people demanding time from me away from my studies, study itself became stressful. I never seemed to have enough time for my studies. This, while others were bidding for my attention while busy.

With a politics having been quite prevalent in my life for a number of years, I’d reduced the frequency of courses that I work through in my life. Through 2014, I was enrolled with colleges across several different types of courses. By the end of 2015, I had completed a diploma in Health & Social care, worth four level two certificates, and further level two certificates in business administration and lean management organisation techniques.

By 2017, I was only able to begin one accredited course, with plans to take a further level three diploma shelved twice. I put my decline in studies down to the nature of intrusive politics, and also an awareness of myself within the social media world which became more than I had bargained for. I did not want to reduce my study timetable, but I had felt that I had no choice. I perceived there to be an insatiable demand for me to be online and tackle issues that were not necessarily related to anything I had been involved with. Quite the opposite. Interest from a politically charged media-centric world had become so widespread and toxic for me, that it took up more time than any timetable I had tried to devise; devised oftentimes with the assistance of mentors and sponsors in my life.

In recent weeks, I have come to accept that I may be suffering from the effects of burnout, though I do not believe it is down to the activities I had personally timetabled for myself. In fact, my burnout is very much to do with the attention I had received from the digital world around me, and the fact I had been mis-branded in some way by somebody or other, perhaps as an active political activist. This was far from the truth. Through 2014, I had sketched a period in my life that required me to be busy for a number of years, through to degree level study. As of yet, degree level study has not been a feature of my life. Merely taking on an advanced diploma, with mental health providers in my life, proved difficult enough.

I do intend to continue with studies in the future, but with burnout now being accepted by me, I am putting off such decisions until such a time that I feel ready to take on these challenges once more. Overall I am pleased with having achieved nine certificates since 2013, but the bulk of these certificates were achieved between 2014-2015, and my performance since then has left me somewhat disappointed. It may be for the best that I did not go on to level three study in that time. Failure to complete the qualification was likely.

It may sound cruel, but I do believe that in a time in which I needed to vest time into myself fully, my time had been stretched between scenarios and events that I had not chosen, by people I do not personally know and were not part of my life. It seems somewhat subjective reasoning in hindsight. I do ask myself why I was not able to turn off the computer, and distance myself from the digital domain where I believed my biggest time-consuming problems to be prevalent. Never the less, I am where I am, and that is being in respite with mental health services successfully installed into my life. In other ways, things may be a blessing in disguise because I have now found the time to write about what has been on my mind.

I may continue with continuing professional development in the near future, and I may make decisions about study in the new academic year. At the moment, I can say that I am definitely beginning to enjoy the perks of burnout, in that I am not too busy to take stock of my life, of how and why I have felt the way I do, and what amendments I should make to my life in the future to prevent demands on my time becoming too great.

 

Stress & Stressors

Over recent years, I believe that the actions of some have sought to impose artificial stress on my life. I refer to it as artificial stress, in that there were not any real terms reasons for it to exist, merely that people sought to impose it on a free life that they had come across through visibility in the modern social media world.

As stated, I find that deliberately trying to stress people out, with no real terms reasoning for any conflict with the person at all, a puzzle. Even more puzzling to me would be that persons like this would have followers willing to partake in malevolent and divisive operations, almost on command. Thinking for yourself would be a personality trait that I would respect. This, over following the negative actions of a minority, so as to fit in with social norms.

What if those social norms are not social norms elsewhere? How does one fit in while trying to adhere to social conventions of a many different type of environment? Which environment kind has flawed conventions, and by adopting its principles, may reduce a person’s ability to transcend in other environment kinds? For the reader whom is aware of my day to day life and its challenges, these will be poignant questions.

Life comes with many ‘natural’ stresses as it is. Merely getting up and continuing with the quest that is life can be difficult to those, like myself, with mental ill health. I doubt anybody’s life is short of stress in these turbulent times, so it is somewhat a mystery to me, that some would choose to exact stress on themselves by seeking out conflict with others.

From my experience, it is the case that those whom seek conflict, seek it with people that perhaps would not be the kind to find themselves in conflict under norms. That said, there is a contradiction apparent, that those whom ordinarily would not see themselves as in conflict, may actually find that it becomes the norm to be in conflict, for that very reason.

Stress is a common word that all will be familiar with, however it is also a clinical word, and clinical stress can make a person become very unwell relatively quickly. Events that stress a person out to a clinical degree are said to be stressors.

Stressors can be categorised in many ways. Some people will have physical health problems that play on their minds, and so their physical ailments become stressors, in that they impact negatively on their mental well-being. Other persons may be physically well but have a lot of social factors that stress them out in their lives. Then there are those whereby stressors impact their physical and mental health, while in turn poor physical and mental health becomes a stressor, further impacting negatively on their physical and mental well-being. Added social stressors makes these lives particularly vulnerable to intense psychiatric illness. It is likely that I fall into something similar to this category.

If facing repeat stressors, over time, endurance to stress is eroded. Repeat stressors can also give rise to a growing sense of frustration that stress even has to be dealt with in the first place. This is particularly true where stressors are people themselves, and that these people would repeat offend in stressing us out. Boundaries are useful in reducing the potential for people to stress us out; that is to say, if they are adhered to, and that we are not stressed out in trying to reinforce them. However, boundaries cannot cure social stress in of themselves.

Stress related illnesses are a growing problem, and I believe that all mental ill health has a prevalence of stress which correlates with the troughs of poor mental well-being. This, even if not immediately detectable by a person. It is true to say that I have met people whom had said that their lives were in a good place overall and that they do not know why they should be depressed. Then, in further conversation, they had alluded to negative news items impacting on their emotional well-being.

I have been stressed out through all three of the years preceding this year. While I recognise life throws up what I classify as ‘natural’ stress, it should not be true that others seek to stress us out as a fun past time. The abuse of power, in singling out individuals that are living their lives peacefully, should never be left unchallenged.