Welcome to the blog for Free Your Mind mental health anti-stigma campaign

This is the blog for the Free Your Mind campaign which aims to battle stigma towards mental illness through the use of music, art, film, and culture.
The blog consists of informative and, hopefully, entertaining articles/posts.
Enjoy! :-)

Thursday, 29 July 2010

What Does Their Diagnosis Mean for You?

You may have recently have had a loved one diagnosed with a mental illness, and everyone talking about what the diagnosis means for that person, but not what it means for you. This can be frustrating, particularly if you are taking on the role of carer.

I won't lie, things will be hard, but there are services in your local community that can help. However, I will warn you, they can be hard to source; personally, my first stop would be the NHS, as well as Mind and Rethink, along with similar organisations.

Consult and liaise with your loved one's doctor, psychiatrist, and/or team as much as possible; not only about them, but about how you are feeling a well. To help your loved one feel their best, you need to feel your best too. Also, learning about their particular diagnosis, and how to help them, will improve your relationship with them and make life a whole lot easier.

The most important thing you can do for your loved one is be there for them and try to understand them. And, remember, the more relaxed you are, the better things will be.

Related Free Your Mind \Posts:

What is Mental Illness?

What's My Diagnosis?

What's My Diagnosis?

It is common for a person's mental health diagnosis to change on more than one occasion; it is also common for there to be a dual-diagnosis. This is because diagnoses overlap one another, making, it hard to pin-point the mental illness. My diagnosis has changed on a number of occasions.

The effect this has on the person, particularly long-term sufferers of mental illness, is that the medication will change throughout their treatment. This is often due to the undesirable side-effects some medications have, or it could be a case of just finding the right balance to keep that person stable.

It can also be distressing for the person as it can be confusing. Howvere, the label is more there for the psychiatrists - a person is more than their mental illness.

As I have mentioned before, mental illness is hard to define. A lot of people don't tell people their diagnosis out of fear of being labelled or judged, they may not even understand it themselves and feel others won't either. This is espcially true when the diagnosis changes!

Diagnoses do and will change; it is just something we have to live with The important thing to remember is that our diagnosis does not define who we are as a person. If you do feel the burden of your diagnosis, try to leave it at the doctor/psychiatrist's door.

Related Free Your Mind Posts:

What is Mental Illness?

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

How to Deal With Someone Having a Panic Attack

Panic attacks are common with sufferers of mental illness. Panic attacks are unfortunately one of the many symptoms of a mental health disorder. However, this is one factor of mental illness that can be controlled to some degree.

Seeing someone having a panic attack can be distressing, but the important thing to remember, a the other person, is to remain calm. I hope I can advise you how.

Look the person in the eyes and tell them to focus on you, and retain eye contact; chances are they are feeling alone right now and doing this will help bring them back.

Tell them to take deep breathes - in through the nose, out through the mouth - do this with them and this will calm you too. Reassure them and tell them how important they are to you.

Do this until they are calm.

It may be best to follow this with some thoughts to what triggered the panic attack and how to avoid the same thing in the future.

It's all in the calmness and breathing.

Related Free Your Mind Posts:

Coping With a Mentally Ill Friend or Relative

Inducing Calmness

Inducing Calmness

Stress affects all of us, but especially those whom suffer from a mental illness. To function in the "outside world" people expect us to be calm rational individuals. But how is this possible when you have a mental illness? How do you combat stress?

Well... if you've got the money I suppose you could have a day trip to the spa. Otherwise, if you're on a budget, like me, there are cheaper alternatives.

The following relaxation techniques can help with emotions such as anxiety, or anger. I use most of these techniques as often as possible.

Technique #1: Music, candles and incense. This is a personal favourite of mine. Of course, just listening to music, or lighting candles, or incense, by themselves can be extremely relaxing; but I recommend a combination of all three. If you're in a bad mood, I nrecommend steering clear of the heavy metal, or trance, and putting something mellow on.

Technique #2: Bath or shower. I know, it sounds simple, but honestly, it works. Let the water wash away your troubles of the day. Immerse yourself in the water to get that truly refreshed feeling when you get out.

Technique #3: Be creative. Let your emotions fuel your creativity. Why not relax by doing a painting, or writing poetry, or a story, or playing an instrument. You don't have to be skilled, just embrace your creative side.

Technique #4: Dancing. This isn't necessarily relaxing, but dancing does release endorphins which make you eel elated, and this in itself can be calming.

There are, of course, many other relaxation techniques (feel free to add to my list). But the ones I have listed here are basic and simple, and can be used by anyone. Find what works best for you and soon you will feel calmer.
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Related Free Your Mind Posts:

Diet and Mental Health

Diet and Mental Health

Diet is not only related to your physical health but also your mental health.

We are all suffering from mental ill-health, whether we have been diagnosed as mentally ill or not. The reasons that are believed to be the cause of mental illness are a combination of factors, including genetics, age and environmental factors. However, nutrition is also believed to play a large part.

It is believed that oily fish, rich in omega 3, can help reduce depression, ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), bipolar disorder and dementia. Trout  and sardines (tinned or fresh) are the best sources of omega 3.

Juice can be used to heighten your mood well as provide a healthy, refreshing drink. According to Nish Joshi; whom is qualified in osteopathy and Ayurvedic treatment; carrot juice alone can be used to induce calmness, improve concentration, as well as, be a depression beater.

Believe it or not, but exercise can really boost your mood and I will personally attest to that. You don't have to join a gym! I have bought an exercise ball, skipping rope and a couple of exercise DVDs. Of course you can go further than that and find exercises that suit you better, but you can also use what I do as a starting point. I also advise getting an exercise mat. The important thing is that you choose what works best for you. Exercising releases endorphins which give you that feeling of elation. Whatever type of exercise you decide to do, try starting with three 20 minute sessions a week.

Choosing a sensible diet and exercise plan can improve your mental health, as well as your physical health. You can do this on a budget and you don't have to join. Finding out what works best for you is the most valuable advice I can give you on the subject.

However, it is best that you follow any care-plan you may have along with the advice I have given above. Don't see my advice as an alternative.
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Related Free Your Mind Posts:

What is Mental Illness?

Inducing Calmness

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Following Free Your Mind Campaign

Following the Free Your Mind mental health campaign could not be easier! Well... maybe it could, but we'll get there.

I launched the Free Your Mind campaign last month on the Internet and now have an official FYM Twitter account as well as an FYM Facebook page. I can also be personally followed on my own Twitter account Titch Bitch (this account shows more or less the same updates as the Free Your Mind Twitter account, but the FYM account is prone to spam being sent to my followers and unfortunately I have not worked out a way to stop this).

I also have another blog on Myspace which mainly consists of poetry and random thoughts. It was sort of a practice blog before starting a proper one here on Blogger. If you would like to take a look around, my Myspace page can be found here. It is not updated THAT regularly, but it is every now and again - mostly with poetry. So, if you like poetry it could be the one for you?..

I think that is my Internet presence covered. I'll be back soon with more mental health related posts.

Fashion and Free Your Mind

I would like to take a bit of time to thank fashion designer, Michael Williamson, whom is a huge supporter of the Free Your Mind campaign, as well as one of my closest friends.
Not only is he a highly talented designer, he has been a great friend and huge inspiration to me. Michael has worked on the campaign All-Walks: Beyond the Catwalk, which aims to challenge how the fashion industry (and the public) perceives the body beautiful; addressing issues such as eating disorders in both men and women.

Michael's first fashion collection was shown on the catwalk at Graduate Fashion Week, and it was entitled "Love Letters From Hell". The collection was based on Jack the Ripper and Victorian London. Michael also hopes to produce a collection based around mental illness at some point in his career and Free Your Mind would support him all the way.

So; thank you Michael Williamson for your continuing support. You've shown me beauty is for everyone.

copyright © 2009 Christopher Moore Limited

copyright © 2009 Christopher Moore Limited
ABOVE: Love Letters From Hell
Michael Williamson has his own blog: Safety Pin Charm.

Related Free Your Mind Posts:

What is the Free Your Mind Campaign About?

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT)?

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is a treatment available from NHS, with the referral from a psychiatric service. There is, however, a long waiting list and it can be hard to get on that list. You can of course choose to see a private therapist instead. CBT is a therapy that is in high demand.

So, how does CBT work? CBT works on the premise that when we have a negative reaction to a situation it is because the meaning we have attached to it causes an automatic conditioned response.

We may behave in an irrational way to a problem and behave in the same way to a similar problem. We don't appear to have learnt from our previous experience, and thus is due to faulty thinking, caused by past experiences, and this is what leads to the automatic response; such as, anger, fear and anxiety.

Cognitive Behavioural Therapy identifies faulty thinking, what causes it and addresses it. CBT aims to help you interrupt unhelpful patterns and challenge your thoughts to produce more helpful and rational thinking.

I'm not an expert in CBT; so I will offer up other places you can get information:
Be prepared; CBT is an intensive therapy and aftercare is essential. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy is not easy to come by due to long waiting lists; so, I wish you all the best of luck!

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Related Free Your Mind Posts:

What is Mental Illness?

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Saturday, 17 July 2010

What is the Free Your Mind Campaign About?

Free Your Mind is a campaign founded by me, Nicola Edwards. The aim of the campaign is to combat stigma towards mental illness through the use of art, music, film and culture. I came up with the idea for the campaign after suffering discrimination towards my mental illness for many years. And it was during a stay on a psychiatric ward, after suffering abuse at the hands of the staff, that felt something more needed to be done.

I am in my twenties and was first diagnosed with a mental illness when I was fourteen. However, I experienced ill-mental health before that point. My diagnosis currently stands at "Borderline Personality Disorder, with Schizoaffective Disorder."

I would like to share with you some of my poetry.

The poetry I have to offer you is all written by me ans was written whilst I was in hospital. At the time I was very angry as I felt I was being treated unfairly by the staff.


Don't call me crazy
for I'm not mad,
these words mean nothing to me.

Cruel ignorance
displayed by fools
whose judgement means nothing to me.

'Psycho person'
'Mental freak'
'Crazy' means nothing to me.

Who are you to judge
my mental state?
Your opinions mean nothing to me.

You might hear me scream.
You might see me cry.
Tears mean nothing to me.

Don't call me crazy,
for I don't judge you!
Your words mean nothing to me.


Burning red
my anger bubbles
inside my loins
a tirade of screaming.
So loud. I cannot hear
the calm I've
myself with.
So angry
leaving me
almost deaf,
unable to breathe.
Surrounding me
with red noise,
red water,
red boiling blood;
cold to the skin
Burning red
my anger boils.

My Mind

My mind is right
My mind may be wrong
My mind is frazzled
and my thoughts are long.

My mind is pretty messy
My mind is hard to tidy
My mind is described as crazy
and my thoughts are pretty hazy.

My mind is me
My mind cannot be changed
My mind breaks down
and my thoughts are rearranged.

My mind is trapped
My mind wants to be free
My mind engages my mouth
and my thoughts tend to flee.

Life according to me

Believe it you can
do whatever you want
and be anything you want to be.

Life can be a bitch,
so go on and grab it by the leash.

Obviously Different

I'm obviously different
from person A
and person B.

But don't get me wrong
it's not my mental disorder that makes me be;

because that is just a small fraction
of what makes my personality.

They locked me up because
my mind was going crazed,

Upon one look
they said I'm obviously different
and threw away the key.

My campaign differs from the hugely successful Time to Change campaign, and other similar campaigns, in my approach to tackling the issue of discrimination towards mental illness. I am utilizing arts and culture to raise awareness.

 Find out about my experiences with mental illness here.

Related Free Your Mind Posts:

Talking about stigma towards mental illness


Fashion and Free Your Mind

Following Free Your Mind Campaign

Friday, 16 July 2010

Coping With a Mentally Ill Friend or Relative

Dealing with a mentally ill friend or relative can be difficult, but you can help them by listening and being supportive. Being able to understand them better will also help you by giving you the information you need to cope.

Admittedly, not every day can be about their problems, so always remember to take time to look after yourself, this will put you in a better position to help your friend or relative when they need you.

When a loved one becomes mentally unwell, to the point where they may need sectioning, it can be upsetting for those around them. The unwell friend or relative may say or do hurtful things, but what must be remembered is that in all likelihood they probably didn't mean it. This is an important point to be remembered because your forgiveness and continuing support will help them pull through.

If you happen to be a carer, there are services out there than can help you. Joining a carer's group gives you the forum to share your experiences and listen to other carers in similar situations. Joining a group would also give you a support network to fall back on when your friend or relative becomes unwell.

Caring for a mentally ill loved one is difficult and can leave you not knowing what to do. Learning more about their particular diagnosis will help you help them. However, bear in mind when researching disorders that even those with the same diagnosis will behave differently; everyone is an individual.

Further Information Links:
Rethink -  "The leading national mental health membership charity, works to help everyone affected by severe mental illness recover a better quality of life." This links to Rethink's support group search page. My own parents have found Rethink's carer support groups very useful.
Carers4pd - A forum for supporting personality disorder carers. This is a direct link to their carers support page.
Mind - "The leading mental health charity for England and Wales."
Susan Kramms' Blog - Susan is a peer counseller and Advocate for the mentally ill - and I just love her blog. Her posts are both interesting and informative. 
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Related Free Your Mind Posts:

What is Mental Illness?

What is Cognitive Behavioural Therapy?

Inducing Calmness

Wednesday, 14 July 2010


As with many others, I have faced discrimination because of my mental illness; for example, at school, from those around me, the police , and even within the psychiatric system. The level of ignorance scares me. Acceptance of others' differences seems so hard to come by.

Discrimination comes from prejudice, ignorance and fear, and doesn't come from open-minded, empathetic, caring people. People discriminate against what they cannot understand and mental illness definitely fits the hard to understand category. However this does not mean anyone has to stand for it!

My own experiences with discrimination because of my mental illness were what led me to start this campaign. In my opinion, mental illness is not talked about enough, and I believe that by getting tongues wagging we can beat discrimination. If people were more aware then the fear would be gone.

No-one deserves to be discriminated against for any reason, including their diagnosis. We are all human, and we all have the right to be treated equally.

Related Free Your Mind Posts:

Talking About Stigma Towards Mental Illness

What is the Free Your Mind Campaign About?

"Talking About Stigma Towards Mental Illness.."

'Crazy', 'mad', 'psycho' are all words that get bandied around willy-nilly. But having a mental illness does not make you any of these things. There are a lot of myths surrounding mental illness, leading people to make ill-informed comments.

Fear of mental illness is born out of prejudice and ignorance. People fear what they cant understand, especially something they cannot physically see. An open mind is needed when dealing with mentally ill-health.

Just because someone has a mental illness, this does not necessarily make them dangerous. The dangerous sufferers are usually under some sort of intensive care. Most of us have no intentions of hurting anyone.

Schizophrenia (psychosis) is largely misunderstood. As with most disorders, psychosis differs from person-to-person. I seldom hear voices, whereas others may hear them all the time. When hearing these voices it is hard to distinguish these as internal "thoughts" and they seem external. Auditory hallucinations can be accompanied with visual hallucinations. However, and it must be stated, psychosis does not necessarily make a person dangerous.

Psychosis can also be accompanied by paranoid thoughts; such as, the person believes they are being watched, or are an experiment, or delusions that they are a spy, or have special powers. To the person suffering symptoms it can all seem very real and they my be scared. Calling someone in this state 'crazy', or, a schizo, is thoughtless and cruel.

Mental illness can be understood if we are empathetic and open-minded. Watching what we say and what words we choose to use can make a huge difference, especially as mental illness is not commonly discussed - you don't know every one's situation or background.

Related Free Your Mind posts:


What is the Free Your Mind Campaign About?

Sunday, 11 July 2010

What is Bipolar Disorder?

As with all diagnoses, bipolar disorder can mean different things for different people. Bipolar sufferers experience bouts of mania (when they feel on top of the world) and bouts of depression (when they feel that can no longer cope). But this can differ from person to person.

Sometimes bipolar is accompanied by psychosis (but not always!). This can manifest itself in a number of ways - paranoia, delusional thinking, and visual or auditory hallucinations. Therefore, in all likelihood it the psychosis sufferer whom is more afraid of their experience than anyone else should be.

Bipolar disorder and many other mental disorders are more common than you might think. If you have more than eight friends, I can garauntee you know at least two people with mental illnesses.

It's always important to remember that people are more than their mental illness - a person's disorder is not their personality. And; as people are all different, so differs the way in which bipolar manifest itself - some people experience more bouts of mania; whereas, others experience more bouts of manic depression.

If you suspect you have bipolar disorder, consult a doctor right away! As with all disorders, it can be difficult to manage. But, it can be managed!

What is Mental Illness?

Sunday, 4 July 2010

What is Mental Illness?

What is mental illness? That's a tough one. It means different things to different people. And although it is difficult to understand, mental illness should not be feared.

We don't all need to be experts to understand someone diagnosed with a mental disorder. We can understand on a basic empathetic level, we all experience emotional problems at one time or another.

There are too many diagnoses to explain in this short blog entry. However, we only need to know one thing, having a mental illness does not makes someone abnormal If anyhting it makes them all the more interesting!

Just because someone has been diagnosed as being mentally ill doesnt mean they aren't an intelligent, kind and caring person. A person is not defned by thier mental illness.

Mental illness cannot be defined and therefore it is hard to understand. But if we open our minds and push out ignorance and fear, we can get to know the person, and their mental illness becomes nothing more than just one of the many facets of their personality.

Related Articles from Free Your Mind:

What is Bipolar Disorder?

Coping With a Mentally Ill Friend or Relative

"Talking About Stigma Towards Mental Illness"

What is the Free Your Mind Campaign About?