Mental Health Awareness Day.

Today is Mental Health Awareness Day.

From a personal view every day is mental health awareness day, and not only for me, but for the millions of people who live with a mental health condition.

It is an admirable endeavor, creating a day focused on Mental Health Awareness, but I find the similarities to other times where awareness is heightened and then forgotten about are clear, take Christmas for example where homelessness is the big “thing”, organizations like Shelter campaign tirelessly for the homeless, adverts tell us that £20 can pay for a meal, clothes and a shower for those on the streets, and then, Christmas comes and goes and those campaigns are forgotten about until the next year.

The same goes with Mental Health awareness, in one day we will all experience mental health in some form, whether it is healthy, positive mental health or unhealthy, developing in to illness, or need for some form of psychiatric help.

To a large extent unless a family member/community member/dr or friend takes action when someone’s mental health is suffering a person can go through incredible pain emotionally and physically, the age old stigma we have all heard, when discussing mental health sadly still applies, “why is mental health treated any differently to physical health” we all know that saying, we have probably used it in some form ourselves, yet the stigma is still strong, in fact I have been told not to write about mental health, to keep it quiet, as it is a shameful secret, and I wonder, and ask myself why, why after all these years, with all the information, mental health organizations, and awareness days is it still a shameful secret?

There are positive aspects though, and one of those is the organization I work for JAMI. JAMI is an organization focused on Mental Health Recovery, it focuses on the positive, the recovery rather than the negative. We have social workers, Occupational therapists, benefit advisors, support groups and so much more. I am honored to work for an organization where I see on daily basis clients arriving, feeling welcomed, knowing that no one will judge them, no one will view them as “different”, where people are treated with the respect all humans are entitled to.
It is an honor to work for an organization such as JAMI, and I have learned so much through my position here, I have learned that deep down we are all the same, we all crave care and love and respect for who we are.
Each person who comes through the door at JAMI know they are wanted and welcomed, no matter what stage of mental health they are at.
Mental Health awareness day is of course a necessity but until we all are able to stand up, be counted and accept our own and others mental health, there is still a long way to go.

FND

This is a hard one to write.

I have a problem with my breathing, having had scan after scan and test after test today I realised that it is more than likely a symptom of my FND.

This time last year I had never heard of FND, but now after my experience of loosing the use of my arm leg and speech for approx 10 days I have read quite a bit about it.

FND ( Functional Neurological Disorder) is still an unknown condition, sadly many GP’s do not have the knowledge or training to fully appreciate the disorder.

If I go to the Dr say with constant headaches, the Dr eventually sends me for an MRI, the MRI comes back normal, the Dr then concludes it is migraine. Does the Dr tell you that because all the tests were normal you are imagining it? The symptoms are in your head? One would hope not, but tragically many patients who have FND are still told that .

09F71DB0-E916-4538-8C53-F7AF03404FC5.jpegFND is slowly being more recognized, historically thought to be bought on by past trauma or recent trauma the symptoms are vast, worse case scenario, a sufferer looses the use of his arms legs or speech, tremors occur, tics, short temper , sleep disturbances, abnormal breathing, loss of muscle coordination, attacks of abnormal movement, loss of vision … the list goes on.

There are some illness’s that it’s accepted, probably even expected a patient will suffer from depression, for example a patient with multiple sclerosis may fear the future the uncertainty of not knowing how the illness will affect them as time goes by, but with FND there is a reluctance to talk about the depression or anxiety it can bring, along with the very real symptoms.

A person may be worried people will think it’s imagined, that they choose to be experiencing these symptoms that if they would just get over it they would be fine. The stigma of FND is akin to the stigma of mental health issues.

0D83F27C-F24E-4198-BABC-22DCFF3AF0E4.jpegFND is real. It is a neurological disorder that no one chooses to have .

It is not “in our heads”

It is not “ in our ability to get over it”

It affects people’s lives daily.

 

Knowing I have FND, has given me to some extent comfort, when my face twitches due to my breathing issues I know this is not “my fault”, putting a label on something can sometimes be a positive.

FND research and dr’s in general being given more specialized training is progressing, but there is a long way to go.

I am afraid of FND as it is so unknown, Every time I feel weakness in my arms and legs I ask myself is this FND and am I going to end up back in hospital unable to speak or move.

 

I would love your thoughts if you suffer from FND.

Lots of love

sara

Therapy anxiety .. Just another anxiety ?

Therapy anxiety is not something I have thought about in any great detail in the past, we’ll that is until I realised I had it! Actually  I think I will have a quick google now and see if the concept exists .. ( BRB )

I’m back. My search resulted in millions of hits for therapy assisting with anxiety but I could not find one site with therapy anxiety as the subject.

Anxiety in general is debilitating, it can cause a person to become a hermit in so many ways, when I was a child there seemed to be a lot less to be anxious about, or maybe I was just clueless. Drugs, terrorisim, etc are massive stress factors.

So, Therapy anxiety, what is it . A therapist often has more in-depth knowledge of a client then their family, friends, colleagues may have . No one goes to a therapist to discuss the weather or what they eat for lunch that day. Therapy is heavy stuff, it takes courage, it takes exposing your most vulnerable insecurities, your soul is laid bare in front of another person.

The relationship is pretty much one sided, of course I know that a good therapist cares about her clients and truly wishes to assist with recovery of mental wellness in any way they can. But being so one sided brings up so many emotions.

Example, today I took my child to see my therapist, my therapist works with children and my child needed help. Before we left home I made sure my child’s : hair was brushed and neat. Clothes were clean . Teeth brushed. Hands washed and on and on ! Because I care so much how  my  therapist, knowing the insecurities I have about motherhood would view me as a mother .

Before I see my therapist I make sure I look ok . I often leave her hoping that she likes me, wonder what she thinks about me.

When we have a session where nothing major comes up, and it’s just day to day worries that are discussed, I worry that she feels I’m not worth her time or care as much as other clients , I worry that she thinks I am wasting her time, and I worry that she would not want to see me anymore. I worry that she thinks I am fat , I worry if my nails are not done and on and on.

I hear you ask, is this what therapy should be? How can it be helpful if you are this anxious about it, and isn’t it just adding to the so many anxieties you already have ?

The answer, I believe that a lot of people who are in long term therapy have these worries, but you, if you do have therapy anxiety know that the positives, the work towards building you as a confident, emotionally healthy person, the care shown by any good therapist outweighs the anxiety to a huge extent.

So, if your experiencing my new term ( which I will make sure is added to the Oxford dictionary!) Therapy anxiety know that you are not alone !

Lots of love

Sara

A Sudden full stop.

So there I was, sitting at my desk, comparing weekend notes with my college, usual chit chat, usual tutting about the filth on the floor, usual conversation about ” oh my isn’t it hot” and ” how long will it last, oh really another week at least, goodness me, and we are stuck here in the office ” kind of conversations when, everything came to a sudden and abrupt full stop.

My arm, which had till then been doing its thing, sitting quietly on my left side awaiting instruction started to ache, and when I say ache I mean, an incredible, all consuming, heavy pain, I began to feel overwhelmingly exhausted, dizzy and sick. Within 10 minutes I was on an ambulance, the lovely paramedic informing me, in a way that only someone who has delivered life changing news ( not happy news!) can that I was having a stroke.

I will never forget that ride to the hospital, the ambulance going so fast I thought I was going to fly out of it, the blue call he sent through to the hospital, meaning that when we arrived there was a team of Dr’s and nurses ready to greet me,  the pure terror I fel is hard to describe.

I have been lucky, this was caught so fast, on Monday I could not move my arm, could hardly speak, and could not move my leg at all, and now miraculously only 3 days on, my arm, although I have some weakness is pretty much doing its thing again, my leg on the other hand not so much, I have managed to do a kind of shuffle, shlep the leg dance, and get to the door of the ward and back, but it feels as though I have just climbed Everest and ran back down again, without stopping for breath, my speech is also getting there, I now sound like I have had only 10 or so teeth taken out instead of a mouthful, when i try to talk for to long it gets worse and every syllable is an effort, and it is my speech that is scaring me the most, as, if you know me personally, you will know I like to talk!! Speaking leaves me exhausted, and frustrated.

Lying in the ward I have had a lot of thinking time, when I picked up my Siddur ( prayer book)  this morning and I said the blessing “Blessed are you … who firms mans footsteps” I realised in all my 41 years I had never stopped to consider what that actually means!! Go ahead and try something now, lift up your leg.. done? how long did that take you? did you have to concentrate on sending messages to your leg, or did it just happen, now imagine I say lift up your leg, and as you go to do it nothing happens, not a twitch, your leg just stays as it is, you are now starting to strain, shouting at your leg to move… but nope, nothing, nada, zilch, it lies there, mockng you, refusing to move. For the first time in my life I appreciate my leg. I appreciate how incredable our bodies are.

When I open my mouth to talk and even though the words are tumbling through my brain, it is an extreme effort to say the word, I am appreciating the ability God has given us to form words and say them, we would live in a very angry world if it took everyone the amount of time it takes me to say a word.

Speech, what an incredible gift, what an amazing way of letting others know our needs and wants. Interestingly enough my husbands name is one of the hardest things I am finding  to pronounce.

I have learnt so much in the past few days.

1. It can happen! we smoke, over-eat, never excercise and say “na it wont happen to me” but it can and it will, and yup I am going to preach, take care of your body, it is so precious.

2, Every word that comes out of your mouth is a gift, use that gift wisely.

3. Think about where your feet are taking you, we are on earth to please God with our actions, but also God wants us to have a pleasurable life, use your legs to take you places and to do things that both you and God will find pleasure with.

4. In the last few months my extended family have seen over and over the kindness of community, I am experiencing that now, with messages, words of support, calls and texts and offers to help coming in to all my family and friends from everywhere, and I  am so touched and blessed to be a part of a wonderful community.

5. Questions, basically all I have to say is “shhhhhh” if you are not asking the question out of pure, unadulterated care, not just because you want to tell your neighbour or local friendly baker just how much you know don’t ask!!

6. Hospital beds …. SUCK!!

Night night, God bless, stay healthy.

Sara

 

 

 

 

 

 

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