Mental health issues for women are significantly higher as compared to those for men. According to the WHO Regional Office for Europe (2002), overall rates are 33.2% (women) versus 21.7% (men). Today, about 450 million people suffer from a mental or behavioural disorder. According to WHO’s Global Burden of Disease 2001, 33% of the years lived with disability (YLD) are due to neuropsychiatric disorders, a further 2.1% to intentional injuries Unipolar depressive disorders alone lead to 12.15% of years lived with disability, and rank as the third leading contributor to the global burden of diseases.
The above and more are what I will be looking at on the show on Wednesday
#mentalillness is no death sentence. I am a person with a lived experience and speaking up, seeking for help and belonging to peer support systems and networks like the Global Mental Health Peer Network has amplified my advocacy and resilience through it all. Do you want to join us?
P,S to join the network you can email us at email@example.com and we can help connect you to your regional rep
#thereishope #thereishelp #therapyisgreat #GMHPN #PeerSupport #COVIDSupport
Charlene Sunkel founder & CEO @The Global Mental Health Peer Network (GMHPN) shares a message of hope with us during the first mental health matters open day we organized in the city of Douala Cameroon. Yes, we can live productive lives with a mental illness diagnosis. Yes, peer support is available…join us and do not suffer in silence. #breakthestigma #thereishope #bethehope
#suicideawarwness Let’s have the conversation
I leave dots after more because I leave it to each one to fill in what they want. I was shaken and yet poked up when I read of the pastor’s suicide. I was also in serious reflections about mental wellness whether you were a christian or not – coincidence or not? World suicide day had just come and gone, and I remember holding a knife to my heart 10 years ago while 5 months pregnant. I wrote several related posts on Facebook about this yesterday and I just saw another article which took me back to thinking about doing this post.
Here is the link to the article I read:
Now, I don’t know about out there, but in my country mental health challenges are ‘not welcome in church’ period. Better call them demon possessed attacks or wicked people thrown sorts on you – bottom line is you have to be delivered in church, you have lots of penance to do and …
With me being so vocal about my mental health challenges and my PTSD diagnosis from 2014, I quickly learned when I joined church that it’s not so welcome to be vocal – about that and about pretty much – like Rape. I am contemplating if I can swim in such a sea or if I have to leave for real.
So, will this suicide by a pastor cause the ‘church’ to become more…open, real, compassionate, and you can go on; or will they quickly dissociate from the victim pastor, finding reasons to show he was perhaps a ‘fake’ pastor after all?
We’ll see how it goes…in the meantime let’s remember #mentalhealthmatters
It’s been a long while I reviewed a book on my blog, but I have been reading many without being bitten by the ‘review me’ bug lol. Ashley’s book has gotten the ‘review me’ bug biting my fingers again. The book is simply one I had to read and make as many as notes as possible, the total being 65 highlighted notes. It is on the basis of these that I review this very important book mental health users and carers would do well to read.
The goal of the book is very clear as follows: The goal of this book is to demystify psychiatric medications and give people living with mental illness, as well as those who support us, the knowledge to make the best possible decisions when it comes to medication.
With the above in mind, I read the book as the project manager I am. I recall with some loathing truth be told, when I spent nearly 2 years taking medications including psychiatric ones, without ever trying to acquire any knowledge which could help me make the best possible decisions for myself. Had I known will always be the last in class because we hardly even think of them when starting a lesson.
Well, with psychiatric medications, you seriously don’t want take your health or those you care for, for granted. Mental illness (I live with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), is for real and yet, you are not an invalid who can’t decide for themselves unless totally sedated or so psychotic enough to care any more. Ashley’s book is focused on the most common types of psychiatric medications: antidepressants, mood stabilizers, anti psychotics, anti anxiety medications, and stimulants, and yet she is adamant in asserting that: “The notion that medications produce some artificial form of wellness is simply absurd. What I gather from reading the book all through therefore is that, she did all the research including using her own self as a case study, to give her readers and the mental illness community at large, a good base of knowledgeable material to get and keep the conversation going. Recovery from a mental illness is possible if the right combination of medications and holistic treatment protocol are found. Trust me I know it may be hard, it is even daunting reading about the different side effects of the several of the medications.
I learned so much, and I honestly marvel at the depth of the research into technical and not cool products such as medications. I learned for example that it is better to take a cocktail of medications at reduced dosage, than only one at a high dose whose side effects may be devastating. I was also thrilled to learn about the relationship between inflammation and depression, and so much in the book kept getting me highlight wow. I could now understand some about the side effects I experienced, as well as those my brother who lived with bipolar disorder did.
The book is not boring to read especially because she uses words we can easily understand, and above all her own story as a case study. I appreciate her authenticity and vulnerability, and support her overall aim of fighting stigma surrounding mental illness and psychiatric medications. I follow her blog Mental Health at Home, and will recommend both her book and blog to everyone.
Thank you so much Ashley my heroine for writing such a long over due book. In my country, there is still such a pervasive culture of the doctor knows best, and the patient is just supposed to take them medication. Now, some patients and carers can start asking real questions while requesting for medication adjustments and re-adjustments.
About the Author
Ashley is a former pharmacist and currently works as a mental health nurse. I admire that she writes from a professional perspective and from a personal stance, as she lives with mental illness.
I really recommend this reference guide to anyone who takes psychotropic medication, has a loved one who does, or who works in the mental health field (counselors, social workers, healthcare providers, etc. – I am a psychotherapist and could refer clients to this book now of course hahahah)
Hello World, I love doing interviews with authors who have written on mental health, especially about their personal experiences living with any mental challenges or supporting someone living with them. It is with such profound feelings that I interview co-authors Martin Baker and Fran Houston. Their book High Tide, Low Tide: The Caring Friend’s Guide to Bipolar Disorder is probably to my soul like none other I have read before in this genre. I will be doing a review of their book in the following days but I wanted the authors to enlighten me and hopefully you my readers and followers some more.
1) The Profile
Let’s start with a brief introduction of yourself, your background, and a tiny bit about your childhood:
I will go first (Martin). I was born in Liverpool in the north-west of England, where I lived until the age of eighteen. I graduated in Pharmacy from the University of Bradford in 1983 and spent the next three years doing postgraduate research at The Parkinson’s Disease Research Centre at King’s College London, before moving to Newcastle upon Tyne in 1987. I’ve lived here ever since. I had very little experience of mental illness until I met Fran online in May 2011. Despite us living three thousand miles apart, I am Fran’s main support and caregiver. Our transatlantic friendship has taught me a lot about living with illness, but more importantly about what it means to be a good friend.
Fran: Me next! I graduated from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in 1991, and worked as a successful electrical engineer until I was overtaken by illness. I was diagnosed with major depression in 1994 and with bipolar disorder in 2003. I also have chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia. I used to live on Peaks Island in Maine. Inspired by the island’s rich history, I interviewed and photographed long-time residents. The photos and interviews were exhibited locally and also published as For the Love of Peaks: Island Portraits and Stories, a Collection. This led to me appearing on Maine Public Broadcasting Network and National Public Radio to talk about my book and the challenges of living with illness. I was also a columnist with the Island Times. I was still living on Peaks Island when Marty and I met. I moved to Portland, Maine, in 1993. I love Portland and my many friends who love me dearly. I live with a beta fish named Jewells who often makes me laugh and gives me a reason for living.
2) The Soul Journey
Martin, why? I mean, I have heard of a sibling who tried to help and even gave up, but I have never read of a friend of someone living with bipolar disorder.
That is really why we wrote our book, because there is nothing else out there specifically for friends. Each chapter starts with a question. The final chapter asks exactly what you just asked: “Why do you do it?” There isn’t one single answer. Our friendship enriches my life as much as it enriches Fran’s. I have gained so much in the time we have been friends. I believe I am a better person because of it. Ultimately, Fran is my best friend, and that’s what best friends do—they look out for each other.
Fran, did you feel guilty at any point for your mental health and the impact it was having on your friendship? If yes what did you think or do, if no please explain for us.
This is a great question, Marie! I do wonder how Marty is doing when I’m not well but I never feel guilty about it with him. Not in my mania or in my depression. I have felt guilty about it with some others. Safety and guilt go together for me. I feel safe with Marty, that’s why I don’t feel guilty. With other people, I profusely apologized for myself and my behavior when I was manic, but I also expected them to be responsible for their behavior.
Martin, can you tell us how your wife and son appreciate your having a friend like Fran, who could need you at any hour?
My family has been incredibly supportive, both of my friendship with Fran and the book we have brought out together. My wife contributed a piece to the book, and it is through my son that Fran and I found a publisher! More generally, they are very supportive of the help I am able to give to Fran and others, and the other work I do these days in the mental health arena, such as online work and volunteering with the UK anti-stigma charity Time to Change.
Do you two think the distance is helping your friendship stay alive or killing it slowly?
In some ways living 3,000 miles apart limits our friendship. Fran can’t invite me round for a meal, say, or meet me in town for a coffee. I can’t help her with chores, fetch groceries, or give her a ride to appointments like I would if we lived in the same city. On the other hand, we get to share a great deal just as easily as if we lived close together. Social media and instant messaging mean we are never really out of touch. We meet on webcam almost every day. We talk (a lot!), watch movies and read books together. In some ways it enhances our relationship. As long as there’s an internet signal we can connect, no matter what time of day it is, where we might be (at home, out about town, on vacation etc.) or what we might be doing.
Do you have any candid advice to friends of people with a bipolar disorder diagnosis? I will appreciate advice from each of you.
Martin: The key advice I’d offer is to keep the channels of communication open. For us that means daily chat conversations and Skype calls. That might be too much for some people, but however you “do the talking thing,” be someone your friend knows will be there for them no matter what happens. (And yes, that might include taking a phone call or responding to a message in the middle of the night.) Be someone your friend can trust not to turn away when things get rough. How do you do that? We sum it up as “Be who you are. Do what you can. Embrace the journey.” Don’t try and be someone you are not. You don’t have to do everything. Find your role in your friend’s support team and make it yours. There will be some bad times for sure, but also lots of good times. Share it all.
Fran: Three things come to mind. Commit yourself to your own self-care, keep healthy boundaries, and have understanding and empathy. Self-care means remembering to take care of your needs as well as your friend’s. Like taking some time off if you need it, or having someone to talk to or support you when things are hard. Keeping healthy boundaries is linked with self-care. What happens sometimes is friends get all enmeshed with the bipolar person. Someone manic can be interesting and exciting, but it can be toxic if you are not careful. Healthy boundaries means being aware of what is going on and not doing things you don’t want to do just to keep them happy. It’s ok to say no. Don’t go down the drain with your bipolar friend! Understanding and empathy means listening to your friend, to what is happening with them, and not trying to fix things or do everything….
Stop by on Wednesday for Part 2 of this exciting and yet so soulful interview