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! :-)

Friday, 22 July 2011

Self Harm and its Associated Stigma

The last blog post was about suicide and its associated stigma, and how damaging this stigma can be. Although this post will be in a similar vein, I will try to keep it fresh and avoid repetition.

In the same way that suicide is not about seeking attention. Self-harm is also not an attention-seeking act.

In most cases, self-harm is about externalising internal pain, i.e. making internal pain, external.

There may be specific aspects to the act of harming oneself which make the internal, external, such as; the distraction of physical pain, the feeling of power and control over body (and, consequently, mind), or, a way of punishing oneself, and often with associations to the pain which are unique to that person. There are many reasons why someone might harm themselves, but, most of the time at the core of the reasoning, self-harm is about making emotional and/or mental pain, physical on the outer body.

Self-harm is not a shameful or hurtful act, if anything, it is an act of expression. And, despite the visibility of scars and wounds, it is mostly a private and personal expression of pain.

The prejudiced and ignorant culture of calling people "emo", along with various other terms used in derogatory ways in conjunction with those who self-harm, is frankly ridiculous. For starters, self-harming is not a new thing. And, neither is associating self-harm with a group of "misfits" or "outcasts" of society; before rock music, poets were the associated group - this stigma is old-hat.

The stigma is stale and boring, and so is the ignorance and prejudice that comes with it.

For the sake of not re-walking the same ground covered in my previous Free Your Mind blog post, I will keep this short and sweet. So; to summarise, self-harming is not an attention seeking act, or a shameful act; and for people to associate stigma with self-harm is nothing but prejudice and ignorance.

Friday, 8 July 2011

Suicide and its Associated Stigma

I struggle with suicidal thoughts on a regular basis.

However, the factors stopping me from successfully killing myself are; firstly, I'm scared of messing it up - damaging my brain as one example, immobility as another -. or, I might at least (as has happened before) make myself extremely ill (vomiting, diarrhea, etc. ...not good..). And; secondly, with all the ongoing goals and projects I have personally set up for myself to complete in this lifetime - the thought of not completing these always pulls me back from the edge.

Don't get me wrong, I have so much love for all my close friends and family - and I genuinely couldn't live without them (And these people always pass through my mind both before and during an attempt!) - but the pain caused by suicidal feelings can often override any other thoughts, feelings, or emotions.

However; I wouldn't be writing this if I hadn't always come back from the edge.

Suicide causes pain for many people; whether you are the one with suicidal feelings or you are bereaved from the loss of a loved one due to suicide.

Losing someone close to you is always hard and will affect people in different ways. Losing someone through suicide is the same. And, it is important to remember, that even if a person kills themselves, this does not mean they didn't love or care about anyone.

But when people add stigma to an already painful event such as suicide, it only causes more pain. The stigma of suicide is dangerous and destructive, and, because people are afraid to speak their true feelings when stigma is attached to suicide, lives are ruined by stigma.

The pain caused by suicidal thoughts and feelings is literally unbearable, which is why people go to such extreme lengths to end that pain. And the stigma associated with suicide only adds to that pain and it stops people from speaking up about their feelings.

Suicide is not a cowardly escape route, it is not a "cry for attention" (sorry to be blunt, but what is the logic in thinking that someone would kill themselves as a way of being "noticed" -  surely, if someone wants to be noticed, then they would also want to be around to receive any attention and adulation due to their attention seeking act).

Neither, do I believe it is a lazy or selfish  act. Suicide is not lazy or selfish.

For all the people who say 'Suicide is selfish;' I'd say to them, that I am of the opinion that it is selfish to force a person to live everyday in the pain and agony caused by suicidal thoughts and feelings (because it truly is pain and agony).

I'm not an expert with  a degree, or anything like that - but, I do have a lot of personal experience with suicide, suicidal thoughts, mental illness and the issues surrounding mental health. So, I can only offer 'suicide prevention' advice based on my own personal experiences.

Personally, I find expressing myself creatively, in whichever way that may be - creative writing, art, music, dance, drama -, is the best way to not only "get it out of me," as they say, and calm my suicidal thoughts, but it also provides a way (should I wish to use it)  for me to communicate my feelings to myself and others.

It's true, we don't always have someone to talk to, although there are services set up to help us deal with these feelings (listed below). However, it is important to remember that feelings of suicide and/or of hurting yourself are absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, and I hope you don't feel you have to be silenced by how you feel and unable to talk to anyone about your feelings.

Suicide prevention help:
Samaritans (Open 24 hrs. a day, 7 days a week): UK: 08457 90 90 90 
ROI: 1850 60 90 90   
Email: jo@samaritans.org
Health NHS direct (mental health/suicide):
0845 46 47 (local rate) 
Website: http://www.nhsdirect.nhs.uk/ > NHS Direct Mental Health FAQ

Worried someone is having thoughts of Suicide - Call PAPYRUS HOPEline:
0870 1704000

Suicidal thoughts by themselves cause extreme pain in the individual with these feelings and can also be painful for the people who love and care for that person. But these are not the sort of feelings that can just disappear over-night, even if a person seems perfectly happy, this may not be the reality. It is highly possible they could feel silenced by the stigma directed at suicide.

The way people add stigma to suicide is destructive. Stigma does not save lives - in fact, attaching stigma to suicide does quite the opposite - it ruins lives.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

Contributors wanted for new posts within the Free Your Mind blog mental health blog!

....This could mean that Free Your Mind needs you!

Firstly, my apologies for the lack of posts on this blog lately. Unfortunately, this has been due to me being ill and, therefore, understaffed and unable to blog.

Secondly;Contributors are currently needed to help maintain the Free Your Mind blog.

Free Your Mind (founded by Nicola Edwards in 2010) is a mental health campaign aimed at helping to fight stigma surrounding mental illnesses, and its surrounding issues, by using combination of educating the general public against the danger of holding beliefs of stigma towards those with mental health disorders, and by showing how a mentally ill mind is often a creative mind.

Free Your Mind is determined to consistently bring you high quality blog posts, which we hope will not only inform and educate, but also entertain the reader and continue to stay in their minds even after their eyes have left the screen, However, Free Your Mind, although currently small, is growing as a non-profit organisation; and, so, the next logical step forward, is for our small team to expand - which will include a small team of Contributors with regular submissions.

We're looking for diverse range of people (as long as they are seventeen or older) who has/had experience with mental health disorders; whether it is you whom has been given a diagnosis; or, you care for a friend, loved-one, relative or client with a diagnosis; or you work in a home caring for those whom have at some point been diagnosed and are in need of 24/7 care/supervision - You could contribute!

We are looking for contributors from all walks of life; including, 'Psychiatric Survivors', 'Service Users'  those working with a MH team, Social Workers & Mental Health Professionals, Teachers & Parents, Students & School- Leavers, Patients and Outpatients. You could contribute!

We want Contributors to get across, from your unique and passionate perspective, your views and opinions on the issues and debates surrounding mental illness; and to communicate your honest thoughts and feelings about how you, and others in your community, are/have been treated by your local mental health services.

Join us in opening minds to mental illness!

We are looking for two types of Contributors:

Regular Contributor
A Regular Contributor would be required to meet a two-week deadline to complete and submit a single blog post, and after editing and approval, the post would be posted to the FYM blog as soon as possible, and all text within that current blog post would be attributed to the Contributor. Contributors would most likely be given a subject to write about for the blog; unless they have a mental health related issue, which they need to express, then they can do so on the blog with the administrator's permission. Unfortunately, as we are a non-profit, a fee for your services would be unavailable. We can, however, offer exclusive invites to upcoming events either organised by FYM, or in association with FYM.

Non-regular Contributors
Others can sporadically contribute submissions (as many as you wish) - bearing in my mind should any submissions be offensive, inappropriate, or not actually related to the Free Your Mind campaign in any way - these submissions will be permanently discarded of. Again, we cannot offer a fee, we would only be able to offer our genuine 'thanks'.

If you are interested in the becoming a contributor for Free Your Mind mental health anti-stigma campaign. then send us your resume/CV to freeyourmindcampaign@gmail.com - Examples of written work would be ideal, but, not, vital.

We look forward to hearing from you!