Depression and Bereavement

Sadly, grief is something we will all face at some point in our lives. Grief can be caused by the death of someone we love, or by other circumstances such as losing a job, losing a pet, the deterioration of our health, moving house, or a relationship ending, the effects are very similar.

When we are already coping with depression, the added pressure of dealing with such a loss can seem too much to bear. We are going to look at the way we cope with grief and give you some tools to help you through.

Everyone’s response to grief will be different, however, there are many common experiences we share when we lose someone close to us. These can include:

Psychological

Denial

Sadness

Anger

Resentment

Irritability

Mood swings

Guilt

Difficulty Concentrating

Feelings of failure

Physical

Sleep problems

Fatigue

Weight loss or gain

Blurred vision

Headaches

Aching limbs

Breathlessness

Dry mouth

Behavioural

Withdrawal

Avoidance

Loss of appetite or overeating

Difficulty making decisions

Seeking reassurance

Aggression

Self-medication

The first thing you need to realise is that all these symptoms, and others, are normal. There is no ‘right way’ or indeed ‘wrong way’ to cope with grief. Your body has received a big shock and many of the reactions, particularly the physical ones, are our bodies’ natural fight or flight reflex kicking in.

By knowing that these reactions are normal and that they will pass, it can make it easier to cope with the process. It will be painful, and nothing we can do or say can take that away. Life will forever be changed. However, you will, in time, learn to accept your new normal and the pain will ease.

BE KIND TO YOURSELF

It is important that you are kind to

yourself during this process, as at all times in life. Give yourself time and don’t expect to feel better quickly – if your body had experienced a major trauma, such as a car accident, you would expect it to take time to heal. The mind is no different and grief is a major traumatic event.

Allow yourself to feel the sadness, the shock, the anger, the loneliness – by accepting these feelings you are giving yourself permission to grieve and the feelings cannot build up inside you. This can help alleviate some of the physical symptoms as the fight or flight response begins to disperse. Talk to people about how you are feeling, scream or shout if you need to, cry. Remind yourself always that this is normal, and in time, this will pass. Don’t feel you have to ‘be strong’ and ‘move on’ in a set time – your grief is your own and you will experience it differently to others. That is okay!

FORGIVE YOURSELF

We often have regrets when we lose someone close to us, I know I certainly do, it’s only natural we wouldn’t be human otherwise. We should’ve spent more time with them, there was something we should, or shouldn’t, have said. We can also feel guilty over our reactions to death – we may feel relief that someone who has been in pain has died and is no longer suffering for example. We can feel guilty for not crying or not being ‘sad enough’, for having moments of joy and laughter. These feelings are part of the process of grief and we need to accept them and talk about them to be able to forgive ourselves. We cannot change the past but by accepting these feelings as a normal stage of grief we are able to move forward.

ROUTINE

Routine is important. When we experience grief we can close down. We will stop doing the things we normally do. This is absolutely okay. We need time to recover. However, it is important to keep some sort of routine. Try to eat at regular times (set alarms to help yourself remember). Go to bed and get up at normal times, even if you are struggling to sleep. Try to see other people and get outside at least once a day, even if it just to sit in your garden.

LET OTHERS IN

Allow others to help you. When you lose someone close to you people will offer you help. Use this. You can ask people to come and keep you company, cook meals for you, do your shopping, help with cleaning, walk your dog, the list is endless. Often people want to help but don’t know how to – reach out to people if you need to. Be specific: if you need help with a particular chore, ask.

GET CREATIVE

Sometimes you need to do something tangible to help explore your feelings. Write a blog or a letter to your loved ones telling them the things you want to say to them. Create a collage or photo album. Paint or draw the person or something that was important to them. As you move through the grief process you may want to get involved in a charity or cause that was important to them as a way of keeping the connection alive. However saying that, if a loved one has died from Cancer, for example, it is also okay not to want to have anything further to do with it as the memories might be too painful. Wanting to move on is perfectly normal.

PREPARE FOR TRIGGERS

Even when we have processed our grief and are living our new normal, things can happen to trigger those feelings and reactions again. Often birthdays, anniversaries and milestones can make the initial grief feel raw again. Make plans for those days, try not to spend them alone. Do something to celebrate the person you have lost. Accept that these days and the days surrounding them will be hard and know that this too shall pass. Again, not wanting to mark the day is also normal, grief is a very personal emotion and it’s important to do what is right for you, however, do try not to be alone at these times.

Remember healing your grief does not mean forgetting your loved one. They will always be there. Many grief counsellors use the metaphor of dropping a pebble into a pond – when you first experience grief the ripples are strong and close together, as the weeks and months pass the ripples get wider apart but the emotions are still felt strongly. Even when the surface is calm, the pebble is still in the pond, the pond forever changed from how it once was. This becomes your new normal. You will always miss them but the old adage of time being a healer is true. In time we do learn to move forward with our own lives.

WHAT IF IT GETS TOO MUCH?

The stages we all go through are normal and the only way through them is to experience them. For some people this will take longer than others and that is normal too. Finding a support group can help you to speak to others who understand your feelings and to realise you are not alone.

Very rarely we can get stuck in the cycle of grief and need help to come through it. If the feelings of numbness, sadness, anger, etc don’t begin to ease over time or increase in intensity it is worth speaking to your GP or contacting a grief counsellor to help you through these feelings.

You should speak to someone if;

You have regular, intense, feelings that you should have died as well as/instead of your loved one.

Blaming yourself repeatedly and not able to rationalise your feelings

Feeling numb or disconnected for more than a few weeks

Turning to drink or drugs to cope

Feel unable to perform your usual activities

Remember that many counsellors often recommend that at least six months passes between bereavement and seeking a ‘talking therapy’ as crying and sadness are perfectly normal and necessary reactions, although there isn’t a hard and fast rule. Talking therapies won’t make you not miss someone, but may help you to process and clarify emotions and help you to ‘function’ in ways that are more helpful. However you know your own feelings and if you are struggling to cope, especially with a prior history of depression, it is always worth checking in with your GP, so they can gauge how you are managing.

Losing a loved one is hard, it is meant to be hard and nobody will be able to take that away for you. You will cry, you will mourn, you will shout and scream – but slowly you will find the tears fall less frequently, that more and more often you can smile at a happy memory, laugh at a joke you once shared, and the pain, although still there, will be lessened. Until you get to that stage, when you start to see the light and know that it will be okay, remind yourselves that your reactions are normal. Until then, at this time in your life more than ever, keep practicing your self-care and know that you are not alone.

PLACES TO TURN

Someone to talk to – The Samaritans: 116 123

Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87

Cruse Bereavement Care: 0808 808 1677

Bereavement Supportline: 01708 765 200

You are never alone, talking is important and beneficial, it’s good to talk.

Steven Connelly

Young People and Mental Health.

The number of young people suffering from a diagnosable mental health condition is high and continues to increase:

• Approximately 1 in 12 young people self-harm

• Around 3 children in every class suffers from a mental health condition

• 1 in 10 young people age 5-16 years old have a mental health illness

• More than half of adults with mental health problems had their diagnosis in childhood, however less than half of these had appropriate treatment

Correct identification of a mental health illness at an early stage is extremely important to ensure the most appropriate treatment can be given to a young person. This helps to prevent serious risks, suffering and a lifetime of morbidity.

My blog post looks further into what the signs and symptoms of a mental health condition can be in a young person. It also offers advice and support on what to do if you suspect a young person is struggling with their mental health.

Spotting the signs and symptoms

The mental wellbeing of a child is just as important as their physical health and often, young people who suffer from mental health issues such as depression and anxiety do not get the help they need. One reason for this could be that the young person will try and hide their feelings and signs can be subtle.

If a child in your care is showing any of the behaviours listed below, they may require further support for their mental health:

• Refusing to go to school and decline in academic performance

• An increase of medically unexplained symptoms such as stomach aches, headaches or chest pains

• Low mood which has been consistent for more than 2 weeks

• Poor sleep, feeling tired all the time or poor concentration

• Change in appetite leading to rapid weight loss or weight gain

• Social isolation and giving up hobbies

• Poor self-care

• Presenting as hopeless about their future

• Talking negatively about themselves

• An increase in irritability, recklessness or aggression

• Looking sad or worried all the time, or showing a lack of expression

It might also be important to look out for unusual marks on the young person. Unexplained scars, cuts or even swelling from possibly punching something, can be a sign of a mental health problem. This may become evident if a young person declines physical examinations and starts to cover up more.

What to do if you suspect a mental health problem in a young person?

It is important to always reassure the young person and their parent or carer and explain to them that they are not alone. Often the mental illness is common and treatable and you can help them access the support and treatment they need.

NHS or private?

Many families have private insurance but they do not realise that this covers mental health until it is pointed out to them.

A private referral will ensure the young person is seen very swiftly by a consultant, rather than waiting a long time on the NHS and then probably see a junior clinician. Privately, there are many success stories as the young person can get amazing and positive guidance treatments without a wait.

Often it is a big relief for a young person to finally share information and to hear there is help.

Consider the parent/carer

It is helpful to have a system in place to manage the parent or carer in a consultation:

• If the young person has come with their parent, ensure the parent feels heard

• Do this whilst building a rapport with the young person and making them feel comfortable

• Suggest you spend a brief period with the young person alone and bring the parent back in at the end

• When the parents have left the room, explain ‘confidentiality’ to the young person and check with them at the end of your time together what they do and do not want sharing

Young people can often disclose self-harm or suicidal ideas when they are seen alone and when they understand confidentiality.

Normally, if you explain to a young person that it is important to be open with parents, at the end of your discussions, you can help contain any parental distress and manage the situation better.

Offer practical help to parents/carers

If you are concerned about self-harm, (cutting, ligatures, or overdose) or suicidal thoughts, advise parents of the following (if confidentiality permits):

• Ensure any medications which are not required are disposed of and any remaining medications are in a locked cabinet

• Remove any razor blades, pencil sharpeners, shoe laces, small make up mirrors (which could be smashed), maybe dressing gown cords and belts, and similar items from the young person’s room

This may feel intrusive but it will make the parent/carer feel safer, even if they may not show appreciation. Tell the young person beforehand that you are going to advise parents to do this so the situation is managed.

Help the young person identify triggers

Help the young person try to identify their triggers for self-harm and the early warning signs of becoming distressed. These could include:

• Pacing

• Chewing their sleeve

• Isolating themselves in their room

You can also discuss distractions they could use at the point of early warning signs. This could include ringing friends, watching funny YouTube clips, holding ice tightly or biting on a lemon.

If you suspect an eating disorder

If you think a young person may be suffering from an eating disorder, it is important to closely monitor their weight as well as their sitting and standing blood pressure, pulse, ECG and bloods. Blood tests should include U+E, potassium, glucose, magnesium and calcium until they are picked up by mental health services. Early identification can help prevent a rapid decline in their physical health.

Advice post-consultation

Talk to the young person prior to leaving your surgery, about how parents can help if they are having self-harm thoughts. Consider if there is a signal that they may be willing to give their parent when they spot their early warning signs of distress. This could include:

• Squeezing their hand

• Asking the parent to do a specific form of distraction with them

• Giving the parent a red card or a text with a code word

Young people sometimes find this easier than vocalising how they are feeling. Ask them how they would want the parents to react if they give this signal. If they know the parent will not overreact they are more likely to access their help.

Finally, you can refer the young person to mental health services (NHS or private) for support or call a child and adolescent psychiatrist for a discussion if you would like further advice.

Why is it important to access help quickly for young people?

• Once a young person has been open about their mental health issues, it is important they see there is prompt support available and that it is taken seriously

• Research shows that early intervention can prevent considerable longer term morbidity and mental health issues in adult life

• Most mild and moderate mental illnesses that are treated promptly with evidence-based interventions are likely to lead to a full recovery

• The NHS route may feel frustrating, however without any treatment at all, young people are likely to continue to have poor functioning or risks may increase with time.

Steven Connelly

Mental Health Awareness Week 2019

This week is Mental Health Awareness Week. The awareness campaign is organised by the Mental Health Foundation and it’s main focus is to help raise awareness of mental health and wellbeing every year.

 

Body image

This year, the campaign’s theme addresses body image and how it affects people across a lifetime, ranging from children and young people, to adults and people later in life.

 

In 2018, the Mental Health Foundation discovered that 30% of all adults have felt so stressed by body image and appearance that they felt overwhelmed or unable to cope. This translates to almost 1 in every 3 people.

 

There are many reasons as to why so many of us are concerned about our body image. About 6 in 10 women living in the UK believe that social media pressures people to look a certain way. And in addition to this, 7 in 10 women believe that current media and advertising set an unrealistic standard of beauty.

 

Body Image not only affects women it affects men also and we should never ever forgot that. I believe that thousands of men are suffering in silence, and hiding there thoughts, feelings and body image disorders which means men are not getting the proper and professional support that they need and deserve. In my opinion and I strongly believe and encourage that more information, support and education when it comes to the debilitating and life changing effects these disorders have in men. Male body image is an neglected area of support and research, many men will make attempts to take there own life’s.

Body image in men is certainly different to women. We are aware that heterosexual men are mainly worried by their body weight, penis size, and height and to a lesser extent on muscularity, head hair, and body hair. Though some men feel they should be lean and muscular, have a large penis, be tall, have a full head of hair, and little body hair. These issues may be greater in homosexual men but even less research has been done in this area.

Symptoms of poor mental health.

If you are worried about your own mental health, or the wellbeing of someone you care about, it is important to look out for emotional warning signs.

 

Mental health problems can cause a wide variety of emotional symptoms, some of which include:

 

• Changes in mood

• Erratic thinking

• Chronic anxiety

• Lack of self-worth

• Impulsive actions

 

Mental health top tips:

Talk – It’s vital for your own mental wellbeing that you open up to your support network and talk about your thoughts and feelings.

 

Exercise – Regular exercise can boost your self-esteem, help you become more productive and improve your sleeping patterns.

 

Eat well – A balanced diet that is good for your physical wellbeing, is also good for your mental wellbeing. Your brain needs a mix of nutrients to stay healthy and function well.

 

Drink less – Stay within the recommended daily alcohol limits; 3 to 4 units a day for men and 2 to 3 units a day for women.

 

Be mindful of others – Caring for others is often integral in maintaining relationships with people you care about. It can also help to put our own problems into perspective.

 

If you feel as though you are concerned with your mental health, or if you have any other wellbeing concerns, please call the following numbers:

Samaritans: 116 123

Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87

Anxiety UK: 03444 775 774

CALM: CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15 to 35: 0800 58 58 58

Mind: 0300 123 3393

Victim Support: 0808 168 9111

Beat: Supporting people with eating disorders: 0808 801 0677 (for adults) or 0808 801 0711 (for under 18’s)

You are never alone, its good to talk, it’s ok not to be ok.

Steven Connelly

The Silent Killer

The increasing problem in Suicide particular in young men has made headlines and become a massive talking point once again following the death of 26 year old reality television star Mike Thalassitis after it was revealed had taken his own life and was discovered hanging in a park in central London.

It has emerged that the Love Island star is not the only Love Island celebrity that has passed away. Sophie Grandon aged 32 died of an alleged suicide attempt.

Across all the media mediums i have viewed regarding this subject matter one word keeps re appearing, Shame.

Men feel ashamed, embarrassed and weak of expressing there emotions, i am reassuring other men that there is no shame and shouldn’t be any stigma and ignorance in depression.

As a man who is recovering from mental health problems and I have struggled with extreme thoughts of sucide and attempts. I have had to face up to shame and discuss it in detail.  It has been painful and at time’s frightening process but one that has been key to my recovery as i had to open up to begin accessing the most important, effective and relative support services.

In my opinion as a society, we most definitely need to begin having discussions about shame, guilt, embarrassment, lack of awareness and understanding and the dark places that it can lead to when people’s feelings of shame get out of control.  When we look at the problem of male suicide and men’s mental health in general, we need to look at how our society sets up young men to experience potentially unmanageable levels of shame and we need to work together to build a society where this is no longer the case.

Shame can be about any number of things, often contradictory: thinking of suicide, being unable to stop thinking of suicide, not acting on suicidal thoughts, acting on suicidal thoughts, and so on.

Shame especially can follow a suicide attempt.

Causes of Shame

Just as suicidal thoughts can lead to shame, shame can lead to suicidal thoughts. It is a merciless cycle of pain: one begets the other.

“Thinking of suicide means I’m weak,” clients have told me.

“I’m a loser, a failure.”

“I should be able to cope.”

“I’m a bad person.”

Lost in all the self-condemnation is the understanding and acceptance of suicidal thoughts as a symptom. Suicidal thoughts can be a symptom of a mental illness such as depression or bipolar disorder. Or you may not have a mental illness. Suicidal thoughts also can serve instead as a symptom of extreme stress, overwhelming painful emotions, a sense of despair and hopelessness, or some other situation that the person experiences as unbearable.

Suicidal thoughts are not who you are. They do not define you. Instead, they happen to you. The same is true of conditions and situations that can lead to suicidality: depression, anxiety, trauma, schizophrenia, addiction, and other mental health issues. These conditions do not touch your truest, deepest self, what some may refer to as your soul or your essence.

Shame and Stigma

It’s hard to talk about shame about suicidality without also talking about stigma. Shame comes from inside the person. It is an emotion, an internal feeling of disgrace. Stigma, on the other hand, comes from outside the person. It is a mark of disgrace. Stigma comes from the messages that society sends out, messages that there is something fundamentally bad about people if they have certain conditions or qualities.

There is a tremendous amount of stigma toward people who think about, attempt or die by suicide. Many movies, press accounts, even random comments on the Internet portray suicidal individuals as cowardly, weak, selfish, defective – and so on. This harmful stigma ignores facts about biology, in particular neurobiology, illness, and the functioning of the brain.

Most importantly, stigma feeds into shame. Stigma reinforces for the suicidal person the idea that something is bad about him or her. And stigma causes many people not to seek help.  They simply are too embarrassed, too frightened, too ashamed.

What shall we do?

Rather than viewing suicidal thoughts as a character flaw, it is more helpful to look at their underlying meaning. What are your suicidal thoughts telling you that you need?

If you are thinking of dying, it could mean that you need to leave a toxic relationship, or quit a job, or learn new ways to cope, or do any number of things that might allow you to experience less pain without killing yourself. Your suicidal thoughts likewise could be a signal that you need a change in medication, or therapy, or more connection with others.

The shame itself is telling you something, too. It is telling you that you may have a wound, an injury deep inside of you that needs healing. You may even identify this wound as your self, you true self, not as a piece of your past.

Psychotherapy can help. So can other things. The practice of mindfulness meditation helps people to observe that their thoughts and feelings do not constitute their essence. Practicing compassion toward oneself can also help a person separate their selfhood from their problems or symptoms. Knowledge is power.

If you are currently experiencing periods of distress, it’s important to remember you are never ever alone and please use the following helplines for advice and information on sucide prevention.

Always remember you are not alone.

Samaritans

Tel: 116 123.

Samaritans is available round the clock, every single day of the year. They provide a safe place for anyone struggling to cope, whoever they are, however they feel, whatever life has done to them.

Breathing Space: 0800 83 85 87

Free to call

Breathing Space is free to phone from a landline and any mobile phone network.

The phone number won’t show up on any telephone bills.

Breathing Space opening hours

24 hours at weekends (6pm Friday – 6am Monday).

6pm to 2am on weekdays (Monday – Thursday).

Phone and speak to a Breathing Space advisor on 0800 83 85 87.

Papyrus

HOPELINEUK: 0800 068 4141

papyrus-uk.org 

Support for anyone under 35 experiencing thoughts of suicide, or anyone concerned that a young person may be experiencing thoughts of suicide.

.

Students Against Depression

Suicide and self-harm

Surviving suicidal thoughts

Students Against Depression is a website offering advice, information, guidance and resources to those affected by low mood, depression and suicidal thinking. Alongside clinically-validated information and resources it presents the experiences, strategies and advice of students themselves – after all, who are better placed to speak to their peers about how depression can be overcome.

Call the National Male Survivor Helpline:

0808 800 5005

The National Male Helpline for males living in England and Wales

Opening hours:

Monday 9am – 5pm

Tuesday 8am – 8pm

Wednesday 9am – 5pm

Thursday 8am – 8pm

Friday 9am – 5pm

Saturday 10am – 2pm

 

Self Harm & Young People

Young Minds

Parent’s Helpline: 0808 802 5544

youngminds.org.uk

For young people

Self harm

National charity committed, dedicated and passionate on improving the mental health of all children and young people, their Parents Information Service provides information and advice for any adult with concerns about a child or young person..

LGBT Helpline Scotland

The helpline is open every Tuesday and Wednesday from 12:00-9:00pm. Please call 0300 123 2523.

Switchboard

Helpline: 0300 330 0630

switchboard.lgbt

Switchboard offers a support and referral service for lesbians, gay men, bisexual people and anyone who needs to consider issues around their sexuality. Call them if you want to talk about your feelings, are frightened, confused or isolated. Maybe you’re falling in or out of love, coming to terms with your sexuality, or have feelings for a classmate or workmate. They certainly won’t tell you what to do. They definitely won’t judge you. Every call you make to them is private and confidential. They are there for you.

The Terence Higgins Trust

Freephone: 0800 802 1221

Sexuality and gender

Coming out

Growing up and entering the world of sex and relationships can seem confusing and worrying at first. If you are not sure if you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender, you may find it helpful to talk to someone you trust about your feelings. THT is there to answer your questions and give you plenty of support.

Epilepsy Action Helpline:

If you would like to talk to someone regarding all things epilepsy, the organisation has trained facilitators who are there to help you.

They offer confidential and personal advice and you can tell them as much or as little as you feel. No question is a silly one.

Call 0808 800 50 50

Monday to Thursday 8.30am-8.00pm

Friday 8.30am-4.30pm

Saturday 10.00am-4.00pm

Steven Connelly

 

 

 

 

Talking Is Power

There is an increase in numbers of people in our society who have disclosed that they have suffered from mental health conditions and currently receiving treatment.

Unfortunately we are still living in a culture of silence in mental health especially within young men who are suffering in silence, it’s a silent crisis. Men struggle talking about there feelings as they want to feel masculine and don’t want to be judged and discriminated. Men feel insecure about talking as they feel weak(which is ridiculous and certainly not the case). They would rather get there frustrations out by playing computer games, going to the gym and realising energy by lifting weights and taking there emotions out on there body through self injury.

Stigma can also stop people opening up, sharing there thoughts and feelings and seeking help. It takes strength, bravery and courage to talk about mental health. Talking can strengthen relationships, break down the ignorance and stereotypes, take the taboo out of something that affects us all and most importantly it saves life’s.

I might come across as a confident and energetic guy but I’ve certainly had my ups and downs over the years, unfortunately more downs than ups. Don’t keep all your thoughts and feelings to yourself, a problem shared is a problem halved. If you are worried, concerned or anxious please speak up, you are never ever alone.

Steven Connelly

SUDEP

‘On SUDEP’

As a volunteer Befriender with Epilepsy Connections I know that the organisation takes awareness of SUDEP (Sudden Unexpected Death In Epilepsy) very seriously. It is a difficult and challenging topic, which requires “the conversation” and the knowledge to be shared at a carefully chosen moment. Today is SUDEP Action Day. A day which is essential to heighten individuals knowledge regarding SUDEP, and for some an opportunity to remember someone lost to SUDEP. Knowledge is power.

What is SUDEP?

SUDEP is sudden unexpected death in epilepsy, this is when a person with epilepsy dies very suddenlt and no other cause of death is found. We do not yet know the reason why SUDEP happens. It is highly unlikely that there is a single cause, but a combination of factors. (which highlights the importance of conversations and knowledge around risk factors).

Nevertheless, we are aware of the general risk factors:

·   Young adults (early age of epilepsy onset, before 16 years of age)

·   Nocturnal Seizures

·   Early age of seizures

·   Poor compliance with epilepsy treatments

·   Longer duration of epilepsy

·   Symptomatic epilepsy

·   Male Gender

Yet the risk factors only tell a very small part of the tale. Sometimes individuals with infrequent seizures pass away, while other individuals with more frequent and evidently much severe seizures do not. Several may be more at risk due to their social behaviour and lifestyle. It is a very complex picture.

Reducing risk

Individuals with epilepsy can take a very confident and serious approach by moderating their chances of SUDEP by making sure their general health and seizure independence is always put first. Good management of your seizures can be accomplished purely by having recurring appointments with your Epilepsy Neurologist and Specialist Nurse team. Decreasing the amount of your regular alcohol intake is a sensible idea as heavy drinking makes an individual more vulnerable to seizure activity around 6 to 48hrs after alcohol consumption. Taking your prescribed medication at it’s proper dose on a regular basis will decrease your chances. The importance of compliance with medication cannot be emphasised enough.

It is commonly known that uncontrolled seizure frequency is an element powerfully associated with an increased risk of SUDEP .

Life is amazing, short, special and precious, we should all live it to the full while we can as we don’t know that moment where it may be grabbed from underneath us.

Though I want to stress strongly that the risk of SUDEP is low, all elements that may lead to injury, damage, harm and hurt or loss of life should be implemented, there is much we can proactively do together to increase awareness and understanding of the risk factors.

The research goes on…in the meantime we must continue talking to each other and sharing experiences.

Steven Connelly

Recovery

I am a man but that doesn’t mean, I am resistant to mental health.

T

he shame and humiliation us men feel with regards to mental health is mortification. Unfortunately there is still ignorance and negativity attached to mental illness, yes even in 2018. Individuals will stereotype self harm in the attention seeking category, many people believe that mental illness sufferers are violent and dangerous, which certainly isn’t true, and are looking for attention. Patients are more at risk of being victims of crime and harming them selfs, rather than harming other people.

There is many reasons to why, people suffer in silence, every day is a different day, each feeling is different, there is lots of ways and reasons why day to day living impacts our lives, one of the biggest is modern living.

Some people may feel out their depths, they feel hopeless, can’t cope and living is just impossible. Other people can pull themselves together easily, but the next day might not be so easy. Know one can really interpret what’s actually happened in people’s minds, the human brain is a powerful and dynamic tool.

Men’s mental health gets neglected, which makes it more challenging for men to talk about their own personal experiences and feelings, well that’s what my own personal feelings and thoughts have been like.

Some individuals distance themselves away with someone who is suffering from mental health disorders, it is absolutely ridiculous and shocking, not realising they are actually making problems worse. Especially if the person you consider is a very dear friend and thought you could talk to and trust that person, suddenly turns their back on you.

My attempts to confide in family and friends never worked. I can’t really explain how I felt, I felt dazed and numbed, part of me was dead. All my thoughts and feelings were based on entirely ripping my skin to pieces and watching myself bleed, it was always a release for me, as i was lonely and isolated and tormented most days with tonic clonic, epileptic seizures, I was devastated it took over my life.

I battled with my own personal mental health problems, my epilepsy diagnosis, dealing with break ups, my mums passing. I discovered myself to be at loose ends, waking up alone, and being uninvited to social gathers with so called friends, I discovered people had spoken negatively about me behind my back.

I was constantly worrying and anxious about my seizure control, concerned and nervous about when the lighting would strike again. I just wished that I could live a normal life and not be burdened by such a condition, what did I do to deserve this at 21 years of age. I was always hoping that all my negative thoughts and feelings would disappear soon.

The only cure for me, that could put everything right, was to self harm. Loneliness and anxiety became just normal for me. Being on edge, not being able to sleep or eat made me wonder if life is worth carrying on for, what is the point really?

Depression isn’t just something that suddenly happened. I didn’t go to be one evening happy, by morning I was sad. In my case it was trapped a feeling that kept building up for months, or even perhaps years, who knows. Unable to talk to people, talking pushed people away. I was great at hiding how I was feeling, I suppose at least I was good at something. I smiled confidently as if everything in my world was amazing and I walked on.

In 2016 not long before I discovered Epilepsy Connections, negative thoughts spiralling out of control, constant thoughts that I wasn’t good enough, all my thoughts were negative ones and all related to seriously hurting myself. I tortured myself by pouring a kettle of boiling water over my right arm. After I self harmed, wow I can’t even describe the realise I got from it, unfortunately that realise was short lived and my distress i had been feeling was still with me this time and with a constant dull, stabbing and aching pain.

To this very day I feel disgusting, ashamed and extremely guilty as I covered up my self harm burns by lying and confessing to family and friends, I had a seizure while making tea. I am sickened with my lies, i needed to protect and support myself, I was frightened and terrified of the possibility of staying in a mental health hospital.

One day I thought, this is it, this has got to be it. I am ashamed of lying, what type of person am I? On another level I felt so worried about upsetting my family about being dishonest I never wanted to give anyone a reason to be hurt or doubt me.

I am now 35 and haven’t self-harmed for over a year. I have no ambition to harm myself in any way. I am a confident person, my self esteem increases every single day. I appreciated love and life now, I relish In meeting new people and take pleasure and pride in taking time to talk to people and socialising.

I now love my life

Mental health is part of everyone’s life, know one should feel ashamed to open up and talk and their feelings. We talk every day, it’s the main point of contact for people. If words can hurt and create disruptions, they can equally create comfort, piece of mind and help support each other, through good times but especially the bad.

Steven Connelly