Giving something back

Hey everyone it’s been a long time but I just had to take some ‘me time’ and get myself back on the right track. Now I’m going to write about this new project I’m involved in with Access Community Trust.

I was just looking through Twitter and Facebook when saw this picture. I knew the person standing in the picture was a bloke I knew from helping us get to Burgh Castle while our main man Tod was on his fellowship in the USA. The following Tuesday I asked Gary more about the article as I’m not very good at reading. I asked Gary what the project was and he told me it was to do with the war commissioned graves. They need some graves looking after over a few sites we attend across Suffolk and Norfolk with some church yards just having one grave to some having two two or more. The aim is to make them look presentable again, cutting the grass, cleaning the headstone and taking some time to reflect on what the headstone is telling us to just try to think about their story. This got me interested and I said to Gary that I would like to take part in this as it feels like I’m giving some back to them for what they gave to us.

The next Thursday came round and I was full of nerves about going. I texted Gary early that morning and said I couldn’t make it due to not feeling great. I did have a little cold which shouldn’t of stopped me from going but I was so nervous about meeting new people and and to new places I’d never been before so … Anyway I was annoyed at myself for not going to this but he replied and made arrangements to text me the following week about going. This was a good plan for me as it gave me a week to get myself calm and ready to go.

blog 1

pic above of the team 

The next Wednesday Gary texted to see if I was ok to attend on Thursday and I was. I was really looking forward to it though I still had some nerves about meeting new people and the new places we would be going to. Thursday morning Gary picked me up and and there where 3 other people in the van. We said our hellos and I was made to feel so welcome. They quickly told me we had some treats on the van that we could munch on which sounded a great idea! Gary also mentioned we should be meeting up with Chris who was the man in charge of looking after the war graves in this area. I was even more nervous then as the others had been doing this for a couple of weeks and it was my first time. We got to our first grave and met Chris. I suddenly calmed down as he was so thankful for what we were going to do and and what had been done previously. I started on strimming the area around a grave and making it look tidier. Once I’d stopped strimming one of the other volunteers had noticed that that there was some writing on the wall around the grave. We were chuffed that we had found this so we called everyone else over to see it. After this we went to another church yard where we met another two individuals who were looking after the church yard and trying to keep church grounds in a good order. The church was all fenced off and is now just ruins and it made you think was it a popular church when it was in working order and how many people had walked through these grounds.

So I just want to say thank you for letting me be part of this project. I can’t wait to look after more graves. It’s great getting out and talking to new people. It’s building my connection with the outside again as I was becoming a bit of a hermit again.

So I just want to say thank you for all you gave to us and this is my way of paying my respect.

blog.jpgblog2

“They shall grow not old, as we that are left grow old:
Age shall not weary them, nor the years condemn.
At the going down of the sun and in the morning
We will remember them.”

 

Voices in my head:

Voices in my head:

I’m going to talk about the voices in my head that talk I can remember hearing from about the age of 12. I thought they were calling my name. I would be sitting in another room to where my mum and sister would be, maybe not even on the same floor, doing something and then I’d hear someone say ‘John’. Thinking it was my sister or mum, I would wait to see if they called me again, before going to see what they wanted. I would then hear it in quick session ‘John John John’ so I would stop what I was doing and then shout down or go down to where my mum and sister were and say yeah what do you want, they would say “nothing” so I would go back upstairs.

It wasn’t until my later years as a teenager that I started to have more then one voice going on in my head, but I didn’t want to tell anyone as I thought they would laugh at me and not take me seriously, so I kept it to myself which was probably the worst thing I could of ever done as I didn’t get the help with how to deal with them. I thought I’d take you through each voice one by one .

So the first voice I have already talked a little a bit about it can sound really close up and then at times it can be really distant. It can happen at any time of day or night, which is sometimes confusing when you’re in a place full of people.

The second is a male voice saying “help me” in a deep voice but it can also be a high pitched voice. This voice has me wondering whether it is saying that I need to help my inner child.

The third is a female and male voice together. I can’t make out what they’re saying. It’s like they’re bickering at each other or arguing. It’s also quite distant, apart from when I’m struggling or stressing. Then its really close up but I still can’t make out what they are saying.

The fourth is a lady who tells me that I’m no good, that I’m rubbish at things. While I’m writing this out, in my head she is telling me that this isn’t going to be good, so why bother?

The fifth is a male voice but like the female voice, he also tells me that I’m no good nobody wants me here and that I should be by myself. I should cause harm to myself so that I’m not a burden to anyone else.

Voice six is male that laughs at me when I feel nervous and scared. I feel that it takes the micky out of me so I quite like this voice.

I often get asked would you want to be without the voices in your head and I say no. They’re a part of me and although sometimes they scare me, I don’t think I could cope without them having known them all these years.

Around 1 in 10 people hear voices. These could be bad experiences or they could be good experiences with hearing voices.

Voices in someone’s head does not mean they are schizophrenic. Understanding more about mental health can help you understand things that people say or do. Research what a diagnosis means, learn and understand more about it and this will take away the fear of mental health challenges.

“My visits to Burgh Castle – would it interest you ” ?

Hello everyone at the Restoration Trust. I’m going to tell you about the project I’m currently involved in at Burgh Castle that I attend every other Tuesday.

The group is called the Burgh Castle Almanac group. We meet up in the village hall at Burgh Castle and walk up to the castle where we take our fixed spot photograph around the site. This is so over the year you can see the changes in the site over the different seasons. We have all been given some cameras so we can take different photos of the site.

The wild flower lady came and gave us a talk about all the different wild flowers we would see around us. I thought that was going to be boring at first because I thought I knew them all but I didn’t realise there were different types of the same flower also we had some little see through things like magnifying glasses but you could get right up close and see the detail on the flowers which was pretty cool.

It’s two weeks later and we are attending the Time and Tide museum. This was my first one as I missed the first session due to stressing as I didn’t know what to expect. It took me a while to be myself and join in but watching the arty bits going on around the room was so cool. There are some really arty people in the group.

Two weeks later we are back at Burgh Castle and we had the butterfly recorder from Norfolk there. I took a look at him and felt this was was going to be a pain staking couple of hours! Well I was wrong this man made it fun and I learnt lots. The best bit was at the start of our mindfulness walk he caught a dragonfly and we were lucky enough to stroke it. It was a female and I felt so close to the surroundings it was unreal so a big thank you to this man and it showed me I shouldn’t judge before seeing someone at work.

One week later we were at Burgh Castle again for a visit from BBC Voices. This was another top day. We went around the site at filming and making a short video about what we were doing. It went really well and the thing I liked most about it was that you saw a lot of people come out of their shell for this and that made me feel really good.

One week later we were back at Time and Tide museum. Laura brought in some biscuits/cake from other countries. They didn’t look very nice to me but they tasted very yummy. We got asked to pick out 12 favourite pictures then got asked to refine this to 3. This was quite hard and took me a while because all the pictures deserved to be in there but I managed to do it so I was happy. Thinking about it now I could so easily change them around.

I just want to take time now to say a big thank you to everyone involved in this because at first I didn’t feel like it was going to be my thing but I love it. I look forward to my every other Tuesday and feel good about what we do. Seeing people coming out of their shells is a big reward for me but must be also for the people that help put this on so once again I must just say a really big THANK YOU.

MEN ARE FROM MARS…….

MEN ARE FROM MARS…….

From an early age, the majority of boys are pressured by society, family or peers to grow up fast and be men, even before their teenaged years. Being told they can’t play with dolls or dress up in women’s clothes amongst other things that can be classed as gender stereotyping. Also being taught that they shouldn’t cry and that men are tough and strong, that showing emotions makes you weak. These boys tend to develop into men who struggle with dealing and showing/sharing emotions and this can sometimes factor in to why men struggle with mental health. A recent report made last year showed the highest suicide statistics in the uk were for men aged 40-44, at a rate 3 times higher than women. A surprising amount of people didn’t know that men can also get post natal depression. Usually typical in their early 20’s with their first child, but it can happen any time, just like women do.

Upon observation, I have noticed that a vast number of women are able to talk openly about their problems to family, friends or healthcare professionals and feel enlightened upon doing so. Whereas most men I have spoken to confess they think that if they talk about their problems, no matter the subject or how small the problem is, they will be ridiculed or judged. And that there aren’t as many options for them to seek the help and care that they need.

Would you agree this is unfair? In my opinion this is very unfair. Males from all ages are struggling more and more with mental health, because they feel like they cannot speak out or as said before, there isn’t any services theyfeel they can turn to. My goal is to change that opinion. I do not agree with society having a cookie cutter set out for every man, telling us how we should feel, and think and act. I am not play dough, ready to be moulded to suit their standards.

Do you agree with my ideas of what is stopping you from expressing how you feel? Is it the thought of people thinking you are weak? Is it the thought that others will think differently about you? Would you feel lesser as a man?

Men have a stereotype following them throughout life. Never fearful or scared. Never sad or depressed. But is not the case. We are human beings. We have emotions. We have feelings. We cry, laugh, get angry, be sad, fall in love. They are natural ways to feel. We are not the stereotypes that society sets out for us. We are not weak and pathetic for wanting to share our feelings and emotions. We are strong, but because we want to be. Not because we have to be. We are kings. We are thinkers. We are whatever we want to be and nobody has a right to stand in the way of that or stop us.

I understand not that not all people would agree with my way of thinking and that is fine. Not everybody thinks this way and they are titled to their own opinions. The only time when their opinion is a problem is when they try to shut down mine. We all have the pressure and stress of everyday life. Work, families, commitments. This is why more men should reach out. We should build each other up, not tear each other down.

So I ask, what would help you embrace your feelings and mental health, without fear of rejection, ridicule and judgement? How can we make it easier for men to get the help they need, and understand that there is help out there for them, before their mental health deteriorates so badly they feel as if they have no where to go. It would be interesting to know how you all feel about this and have feedback.

I feel lucky in a lot of ways, I have my partner to listen to me, and thankfully a great mental health team who are listening and making great suggestions in how to help myself. From this stems my idea of helping more men get the help that they need and deserve themselves. To help them realise that they are worthy of the help, and not worthless.

As I have said before, my main goal is achieve more professional help for men who are dealing with mental health issues. I want you to know that you are not alone, and you are not weak. Seeking help is the first step to proving to yourself, and no one else, that you are strong. So, don’t be worried about what others think and let me know if you have any ideas or any other suggestions. I would very much appreciate it.

Thank you for reading.

John

Where i got support

Third Blog: Where i got support.

So on the day off my relapse, i dont remember alot of it to be fair, but my partner got me a out of hours doctors appointment. We arrive at the surgery,and about ten minutes later we get called through, I took one look at him and said to my partner this isn’t going to end well. She asked me why, and i said this was a doctor that didn’t listen to me when i was younger. So we get in the room, and my partner has do all the talking, as im not in good way still. We were in there, i would say, for a good twenty minutes, and we came out, I said to my partner that i felt that it went OK. He said that he would refer me to the local mental health team, I felt that was a start. The following day, which was a Monday, and im still feeling in a weird place, and I was having panic attacks, which seemed like every hour. My partner got me in to the nurse practitioner at my own surgery. She listened to us and sent me to Northgate for an assessment that same day. Luckily, they were able to send me home as my partner was willing to look after me.

After i had my relapse last year i didn’t realise how alone me and my partner would become, and what a downward effect it would be for us both. I was told i couldn’t work due to my mental health which meant i wasn’t able to contribute to the rent or other bills. I had to go to the job centre to sort out what i was entitled to, and i messed it all up and had to redo it all from scratch. i was struggling to do the simplest of tasks. This all delayed my claim, so my partner came with me to the job centre, and she asked for some help. A man named Gary was our life saver. he sat there for an hour and a half and completed the claim with us, step by step to make sure we had our claim done correctly. i personally wanted to cry because of how useless i felt, and was so grateful for the help this one man had given us.

All the stress from looking after me and working full time, finally took its toll on my partner, and she was signed off sick. another huge impact on the finances. This resulted in the rent not being paid, as we were waiting for our claim to be dealt with. during all this time i was still being helped by my doctor and the mental health service. we also got advice from the recovery information centre, who were also a big help. We found that my partner was doing everything she could to keep us afloat, but still the finances were in a dire mess. We were so lucky and always grateful for our landlord, who understood and supported us as much as he could.

Our claim took eight months to sort out, and by that time we were now three thousand pounds in debt with the rent. This then resulted in the landlord having to serve a section 21, eviction notice. So off to the council. What can i say about Waveny council, they were brilliant! They walked us though everything, kept us up to date on our housing application, and even gave us advice on where to get food stamps from, as we were at the stage of begging food from friends and family. Alas, the food stamp people could not help, as we had money in the bank to pay direct debits, but their policy was, if you have any money in your bank, you were not allowed food stamps.

So back to family and friends. Then things started getting better, our claim was sorted, so we could pay off some of the rent arrears, we were able to buy food and not plead poverty anymore, and then we were offered an accommodation from the council. Happy days, things were on the up, well the day to day things. My mental health is not as bad as when my relapse happened, and its a upward struggle, but the stress of no money or food was sorted.

During all this i was referred to the recovery information centre, who then put me in touch with other services i could get involved with, who helped me immensely with dealing with my mental health. I gained some confidence with doing a lot of their courses, which then led me to starting my own page on Facebook and twitter, and now my own blog. If you had told me last year, i would be telling people my story, i would have laughed at you.

So just to say, if you are struggling with your mental health, or finances, there are people out there who are trained, and patient enough to help you. obviously you have to try to help yourself and show you are willing to do this, but the people who have helped us, will never really understand how much they helped us get to where we are now. My advice for anyone reading this is, dont feel too proud to ask for help, the people who have helped us, were our life savers, and even
though they are all trained to do their job, they did it with patience and understanding. Also a shout out to my friends and family, I can not thank all of the above enough.

My Second Blog: Peoples reactions.

My Second Blog: Peoples reactions.

Hi Everyone, i hope you enjoyed my first blog, please leave any comments and i will try to answer all that i can.

I would like to talk about peoples reactions to mental health. I will focus on my experiences and you can let us all know about yours,
When i had my relapse last year, i had varied reactions from family and friends. Some people avoided me and didn’t know how to react to my situation. My close friends stayed by me and supported me, listening and trying to help.
My family were unsure of what to do and thought i was just playing up. But my favourite reaction was from my partner. she looked at me one day and asked if i was listening to voices, i think she knows me so well she could just tell, i said yes, even though i was a bit worried about her reaction. she then said ‘ are they telling you to make me a cup of tea” to which i laughed and promptly came out of this dark place. now some people may find this a bit strange, but for us, we use humour to dampen dark times, and it works.

Learning to live with mental health and getting as much information as i can about my condition, has aided me in explaining things to people if they ask me, but i find a lot of people are scared to ask which is why they avoid me. this is all my own thoughts and people may think differently to how i have reacted to their reaction, but we all have our own thoughts and feelings and no one is right or wrong.

One of my biggest fears was having a full blown panic attack in public. what would people think? would they help me? what would i do if they all stood and laughed at me? what if i passed out and no one helped me? the fear of being in big crowds was compounded after the relapse. now i know people say, it doesn’t matter what others think of you or how they see you, it only matters what you think, but i think most of you will agree, that as much as we try to see life this way, we never do.

One of the reactions my partner was angry about, was from a NHS professional. he was telling me that this is my life and
although medication can help, it would not change the fact that i had to get used to being like this. he then held his hands up in defence and said ‘dont get angry with me” now i didn’t react at all as i didn’t realise how significant this was, but my partner looked at him and said ‘excuse me, there is no reason to be scared of John, he would not hurt you, or anyone for that matter, he would hurt himself more than anyone else’ she can be a bit feisty, but im glad shes in my corner.

the last few months i can see a change in family members, its like they seem to be acknowledging my mental health, just by
checking in with me now and then, and that’s quite nice knowing they support me, a difference from not knowing how to handle it in the early days.

I think the bad press on mental health has not helped people who live with a mental health condition, and if you say mental
health, people think, mad man/woman, run for the hills, where this is not the case at all. There are so many different
types of mental health, and just educating yourself can help dismiss some of this myths about mental health and hopefully, we can stamp out the stigma that comes with this title.

obviously people have different thoughts and ideas about mental health, and no one will react the way you think they will, but i would like to say, take the time to find out what mental health a loved one has, and educate yourself the best you can, and this will give you the tools to cope better when dealing with bad days that your loved one has.

I would like to hear your thoughts and experiences of peoples reactions to mental health, so please leave a comment.

Have a great week and be happy

John

My first Blog, Just a little about me….

Hey everyone this is my first blog so I’m going to tell you about myself and I would like to share my story on living with mental health.

I’m going to start at the beginning.  When I was younger I felt different to everyone else, I also felt like I didn’t understand the simple things at school or even with friends. This started to put a lot of pressure on me, or should i say i put a lot of pressure on myself, and it lead me to self harm and Suicide attempts.  The earliest I remember trying to end it all, was 12, where I smashed some glass and was holding it to my neck.  My mother managed to talk me round and get me back to a level of a calmness.  I then started to do it with a carrier bag over my head, and was found by the local constabulary.  I  had tried several times, and my mother  tried getting me the help i needed, but we kept getting passed from pillow to post.  I got put into a service to see a  counsellor and I felt passed from pillow to post again as I never had a a counsellor for long.

I turned 15 and I was still  in the service of the mental health. I felt I was getting somewhere, as I had this particular  counsellor for a while,  I wasn’t trying to kill myself anymore or self harm.   Well that soon came to an end,  as my counsellor and been offered a new job which he took,  so I was going to be seen by someone else again which started me to doubt everything all over again.

Going to jump now to 2006 where things where bad again, and I was trying anything possible to end my life.   It seemed no one wanted to help me apart from my family. An incident happened and the police got involved.   They got me a mental health assessment from my GP, I was then referred to the mental health team, and I started to think i was going to get somewhere.   I got a diagnosis, and was told I had a mild form of schizophrenia. My mother and I were told  this about a month later. I was then arrested for affray as my mental health was still quite bad.  When you get arrested you get asked if you have any mental health issues, so I told the them what we had been told. So I got taken to my cell and about half hour later, a policeman came to the cell and said ‘what you told us about  your mental health is wrong, the doctor said you haven’t  got schizophrenia ,’  I told them to get in touch with my mum and she will back me up, even though it was her who had got me arrested.   The police  came back to me and said that she had confirmed what i had said so they thought i needed to get sorted.  This is what i had been trying to do most of my life.

Then through  2015-2017,  I started seeing images of me cutting my fingers off, and I started hearing voices which  was scary to say the least. Lets skip ahead to recent  years. So 2017 I found out that I was actually diagnosed in 2006 with personality disorder which no one  had told me i had.  I started looking in to it, and  I could relate to what people were saying.   December of 2017 my Mental health took a dive, and the doctor just put me on antidepressants, which didn’t help. In January 2018 the images got ten times worse.  I saw me stabbing some one in the chest then slitting there throat.  This absolutely scared the living daylights out of me. My partner was great she got me an out of hours doctors appointment that day, and we attended.  When the doctor Called me through, I saw him and said to my partner,  ‘this isn’t going to end well’,  as it  was a doctor that made me feel like a idiot when I was younger when I was struggling through my earlier battles.  My partner did all the talking, and the doctor turned out to be brilliant,  and I felt like I had been listened to. That started the ball rolling and getting the help I needed, and get to the place i am now.

I’m still under the mental health team at the moment as i still have issue but im in much better place then i ever been so there is light at the end of the tunnel.
Hope you enjoyed reading this and if you have any comments or feedback, please leave a comment and i will try my best to answer you.