Diagnosing yourself with OCD needs to stop!

Disclaimer: Some of the details I mention in this blog post maybe triggering or distressing to some readers. If you are sensitive to descriptions of violence please be mindful of that if you decide to carry on reading. 

 


 

The charity MIND describes Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as an anxiety disorder with two main parts: obsessions and compulsions.

  • Obsessions are unwelcome thoughts, images, urges, worries or doubts that repeatedly appear in your mind. They can make you feel very anxious (although some people describe it as ‘mental discomfort’ rather than anxiety). 
  • Compulsions are repetitive activities that you do to reduce the anxiety caused by the obsession. It could be something like repeatedly checking a door is locked, repeating a specific phrase in your head or checking how your body feels.

The latest DSM – 5 ‘The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Edition 5‘ (The book psychiatrists abide by when diagnosing patients) removed OCD from under the umbrella term Anxiety and gave it it’s own division because many ailments branch out from OCD including Trichotillomania (hair pulling); Skin Picking; Hypochondria; Body Dysmorphia and many more.

Some argue that eating disorders are a form of OCD. While others maintain that even though eating disorders may share common symptoms with OCD it should be classified as a separate illness. In my opinion, I’d say there is a definite overlap between eating disorders and OCD — especially OCD’s sister illness Body Dysmorphia.

RANT ALERT.

Over the years I feel the media — with it’s uniformed opinions of what OCD actually is — has made it ‘fashionable’ or ‘trendy’ to be diagnosed with this condition. Which in turn minimalizes the severity of what it means to suffer from OCD. We are living in an age where the internet has a massive influence on society’s perceptions and ideologies. With that in mind the media should be a bit more responsible about the information it distributes– but then again this is the media we’re talking about — anything for sensationalist story right?

The internet seems to be inundated with pseudo psychology; self diagnosis and Dr Google. People recognise certain symptoms and diagnose themselves with all sorts of severe illnesses including OCD.

Though, in all fairness, the media/internet has also done quite a lot to challenge the stigma surrounding mental health and providing education to help people understand how the brain can suffer from problems just like any other organ in the body. Nowadays, it is far less taboo to speak about mental health struggles and what help you may need. There are also some great campaigners out there fighting for mental illness to be taken seriously. So times are changing which is wonderful as it mean we are moving out of the ‘just snap of it’ era and being a bit more compassionate to our fellow human beings. 

On the topic of stigma I can’t tell you the amount of time I’ve overheard conversations where people proclaim to be ‘so OCD’ and then describe symptoms that are more fitting to someone who is a ‘neat freak’ or just particular about things.

Granted tidiness and order can be a symptom of  OCD but I would say it’s the severity of the thoughts and behaviour that defines it as an illness. The impact it has on your day to day life; some people are unable to leave the house because the illness is so debilitating.

Here is a breakdown of the differences:

Particular person: Feels a strong need to have her/his room in a regimented order and feels relief once they have organised the objects in a particular way. They can then carry on with their day. 

OCD sufferer: A excruciating need for control. If an object is out of place the person feels extreme anxiety to the point the fight or flight adrenaline is activated. They fear something really dreadful may happen to someone they care about if this extreme order is not preserved. If they do not follow these rules perfectly their own mind attacks them and bullies them until they follow orders.

 

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Source: www.themighty.com

 

This is also true of celebrity OCD. To be able to function or maintain a ‘normal’ job whilst your brain is constantly bombarding you with life and death intrusive thoughts or doubts about every aspect of your life takes tremendous strength. So I struggle to understand how people are able to become hugely success whilst suffering from OCD (?) This does not come from a place of judgement but rather curiosity. They’re either extremely functional OCD sufferers or their OCD has somehow helped them achieve their goals (?) It’s a really awful thing when your mind feels like your worst enemy; I know MIND describes obsessions as ‘mental discomfort’ … but I’d describe them as absolute agony!

I mentioned before that OCD is now seen as a ‘fashionable’ or a ‘trendy’ illness to have which I think is beyond insulting to anyone who suffers from this disorder. It’s even gone one step further with companies using the OCD acronym to try and be cute in their marketing campaigns. There is a particular cosmetic company that really raises my hackles. And that company is Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics.

I find it grossly insensitive to use a mental illness to sell your makeup line?! Would it ever be ok to launch a product range called Bipolar makeup or Schizophrenia cosmetics!? I think not! But apparently it’s absolutely fine to do this with OCD?!

RANT OVER.

 

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Source: Insatgram @ocdrecovery

 

 

I have recently started work with Robert Bray (above). His insight into the disease surpasses any ‘OCD professional’ I’ve worked with in the past. I think unless you’ve been through it you can’t really understand it — like most things I guess. Even the sufferers of OCD can’t understand how such irrational thoughts can cause such extreme anxiety over something that others may consider unimportant. 

I remember a friend of mine — who shall remain unnamed for obvious reasons — and no it’s not me — had an intense fear of raisins. I had no idea how intense this phobia was until I put one on her chair in Design Technology class as a joke. As soon as she saw it she was unable to go near the chair and went into a trauma reaction. Yes, I felt guilty about it afterwards. The way she processed the idea of a raisin and what she associated it with caused her great distress. I guess you can develop an obsession or phobia about anything (?)

American Psychiatrist Jeffrey M Schwartz M.D refers to OCD as ‘Brain Lock’ and even used this for the title of his book. He compares OCD to one of those old gramophones that you play vinyl’s on. Once in a while the pin that gets stuck and you would hear that same section of the song play over and over again. Schwartz says this is what happens in the brain with OCD; the brain locks and plays that obsession or fear over and over again each time getting worse until the sufferer is petrified. The fear becomes disproportionate to the object or situation. I would this is the same way a phobia works — but don’t take my word for it I’m not an expert in that field, it’s just a theory.

 

 

It is quite common for OCD sufferers to have ‘whack a mole’ obsessions and compulsions. I’ve known people who start off with Harm OCD (a fear they would attack someone or might have killed someone) morph itself into Religious OCD (continuous intrusive ‘blasphemous’ thoughts about your faith and that you are evil), for example. One of the most painful aspects of OCD is you know what you are thinking and doing is irrational; but you can’t stop no matter how much you try — OCD has a gun to your head. And every time you give in to its ridiculous demands for a tiny bit of relief it gets stronger.

 

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Source: www.themighty.com

 

OCD has full disclosure to your worst fears. For example, it is common for a new Mother to suffer with OCD. Their baby is the most precious thing in the world to them, which OCD knows. Therefore it will bombard the Mother with horrific intrusive thoughts of hurting the new baby. Because it’s the Mother’s worst fear she assumes just having these thoughts means shes a terrible person and a danger to her child. But thats not the case at all, it’s because she care so much about her baby and would never hurt it she has these obsessions (if that make sense?). OCD will always latch onto your worst fear to taunt you with. A person with OCD who is caring and likes people will fear they are a murderer because they really don’t want to hurt people and are disturbed by intrusive thoughts that one day they might kill someone. Most ACTUAL murderers will enjoy thoughts about hurting people and actually kill somebody without guilt… I hope the difference makes sense?

I would really recommend ‘Mad Girl’ by Bryony Gordon. It’s a really insightful journey of Bryony’s struggles with OCD. And one of the main fears she had as an OCD sufferer and new Mother was abusing her daughter. The book is really interesting and provides an honest and inspirational insight into the life of an OCD sufferer.

 

 

Whilst I’m on the subject another book I would recommend is ‘Pure’ by Rose Cartwright. I’m so pleased people have the bravery to reveal this illness because it’s been suffered in silence by so many people for such a long time. The fear is friends/family/therapists wont understand and will think they are dangerous or bad people. I had the same OCD theme as Rose and I can honestly say it was horrenduous. I was first diagnosed at 17 years old and I remember I was absolutely terrified to tell the doctors what was going on inside my mind incase I was locked away either in prison or a mental institute. Now I understand my faulty thoughts are considered relatively ‘normal’ within the OCD community. I’ve managed to avoid ‘exposure therapy’ for as long as I could, but I still suffer, so I know it’s the only way to truly get back in control of my mind and the best treatment for OCD.

 

 

You may have seen television programmes where people who suffer from contamination OCD are encouraged to touch toilets or ‘dirty’ things so they feel the maximum anxiety they can possibly feel (this is exposure therapy). The point of this is not for a sadistic thrill but to desensitise the patient to the thing they fear the most in order to loosen the grip OCD has on their life. It’s impossible for people to feel maximum anxiety all the time so eventually the fear plateau’s and their thoughts are brought back to reality.

Contamination OCD is one of the most recognised and publicised themes; but there are so many more versions of OCD that are yet to be recognised. Such as Trans OCD (a fear that you are in fact a transsexual); Relationship OCD (a fear that your partner is cheating on you no matter how committed or in love they are with you. Or a fear you may not ‘really’ be in love with your partner). OCD can merge itself with reality (or things other people worry about) and make you constantly over analyse and doubt to the point where you cannot decipher the line between rational and irrational beliefs. In France OCD is known as the Doubting Disease because you are constantly looking for reassurance which relieves you for about 5 minutes before another doubt triggers you. That’s why, for example, someone with Relationship OCD may ask their partner 100 times a day if they love them and no matter how many times they say ‘yes’ the illness will always distort the truth in order to steal you away from reality and keep you mentally imprisoned. 

I once saw this really interesting Netflix documentary when I was in Los Angeles a few years ago; I believe it was called Obsessed but I’m not sure as annoyingly I’ve yet to find this documentary while I’ve been back in the UK.

It follows people who suffer with lesser known forms of OCD. Two of the patient cases really stayed with me. One of the women was told that her Father had been involved in a car crash so she immediately rushed to his aid. Unfortunately her Father passed away due to his injuries. She took home his bloodied shirt (I guess as some sort of memento?) and every night when her children would go to bed she would wear this shirt and obsessively try and figure out how this car accident occurred. Or another case where a woman had constant intrusive thoughts of animals in pain. When she was a child her abusive Father beat her dog in front of her causing significant emotional distress. She was hounded by intrusive images of hurt animals and found the thoughts intolerable (which most people would; but like I said it’s the emotional intensity and consistency of the thoughts that classifies it as an illness). Part of her exposure therapy was to carry around a picture of an abused dog which she had to keep looking at during the day. A lot of people with OCD use avoidance as a coping mechanism to stress but this also just makes it worse because it then the brain thinks ‘Jeez this thing really is dangerous!’. She was also taken to kennels where the dogs where going to be euthanised which was disturbing to see as a) I love animals and b) seeing someone in that much pain is upsetting. You may think this is re-traumatising the person; but unfortunately (I say unfortunately because this form of recovery is extremely painful and I’m sure most people wish there was another way) it seems to be the most effective way to treat OCD. I guess it has a ‘face your fears’ element to it — you take away OCD’s power over you. 

Having this illness can make you feel very alone as no one seems to understand what you’re talking about and even you don’t understand. To some extent OCD does not respond well to logic; just like you could tell a person suffering with anorexia that they are not fat a million times a day and they would not believe you despite the fact they are desperately under weight. As humans we seem to go with what feels real rather than what we know to be real.

I hope you enjoyed reading my post about OCD. And if you feel you may be suffering from OCD please do see your doctor. Mental health issues are now much more accepted and understood than they used to be. You are not alone; most OCD sufferer’s feel people won’t understand because their thought’s are different or worse than anyone else’s but rest assure many people suffer with these thoughts no matter how ‘bad’ or ‘strange’ they are.

Make sure you find a therapy that works for you; the main one is ‘Exposure Therapy’ a form of ‘Cognitive Behavioural Therapy’. In my experience psychotherapy has little affect on OCD; it normally makes you try and figure out where it came from and can make it worse; and to be honest even if you do know it doesn’t really take away the irrational thinking and strong reaction.

The Maudsley Centre for Anxiety Disorders and Trauma is one of the main treatment centre for treating chronic OCD which I would recommend.

There is also:

https://ocdaction.org.uk/

https://www.ocduk.org/

https://bddfoundation.org/

https://www.beateatingdisorders.org.uk/

I would also really suggest following Robert Bray ‘OCD Recovery’ I find his quotes and therapy incredibly helpful and in a short time I’ve already improved so much. 

Be brave OCD will try to convince you you’re the worse person alive or that people won’t understand … they will; don’t believe it’s lies.

Warmest Regards

 

 

Bullying…Why don’t people stop? 😡

 

Today I will be exploring one of the more darker and sinister sides of human behaviour.

Ever since we formed civilisations and communities; bullying has existed.

If bullying is relentless and consistent it acts as a brainwashing technique and after a while, the person on the receiving end believe this behaviour toward them is justified. This gives the bully more control and the power to enforce intimidation and abuse, which crumbles the person’s sense of self-worth.

Bullies will also employ other people to antagonise the person, to strengthen their ‘power’ and to convince the person they deserve this nasty treatment.

We will be exploring why people bully? What behaviours can be classified as bullying? And what we can do to put an end to this horrific behaviour?

 


 

In recent years we have identified the different forms of bullying. It was once thought that bullying remained in the playground and consisted of stealing lunch money and name calling. But we’ve now realised that adults can be broken down and bullied in many of the same ways.

Bullying can occur pretty much wherever there is human interaction such as work, relationships, friendships and even by strangers. The reason I say strangers is because in this new age of social media there has been a new level of malice called ‘Cyber Bullying’.

People in the public eye seem to be one of the main targets of cyberbullying. It’s easier than ever to have direct contact with high profile people minus the Managers and PR people that normally protect them. This leaves the person exposed to the wrath of the general public.  It’s a snowball effect. It often starts with one person sending a critical or even downright evil message to the person in question and then another person sees this and gets involved and then another and another. This is called the ‘Pack Mentality’ or ‘Herd Mentality’. Some people base their opinions and actions on what other people think and do. The targeted person tries to defend themselves but the overwhelming pack mentality can be relentless and bombard the person until breaking point. It’s one thing taking on one person but taking on a group can be almost impossible.

Bullies will often recruit others to do their dirty work. They don’t always reveal themselves as a bolshy, nasty people surrounded by a posse. Sometimes they can come in the form of your best friend or even your partner.

 

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This type of Bullying goes unnoticed for long periods of time as it relies on subtlety. The person on the receiving end of the abuse no longer trusts their own instincts, their self- esteem crumbles and they become a shell of the person they used to be.

That friend who always serves you a barbed wire compliment or the boyfriend who isolates you from your friends or criticises what clothes you wear are all bullies. It’s hard to spot because it doesn’t come in the stereotypical ‘form’ of what we imagine bullying to look like. We all know the classic ‘Frenemy’! Bullies often have a preoccupation with you, watching your every move, it’s weird.

 


 

My experience of Bullying:

I have experienced bullying in many different forms. It started not long after I lost my Mum, in middle school instigated by someone I used to be best friends with. The girls who did it were blonde, confident and nasty (well to me anyway). I was geeky and unsure of myself and obviously, my demeanour encouraged them to mock me, put me down and generally all round feel bad about myself. I was also probably quite damaged from the recent bereavement and I guess they picked up on that. I would stick up for myself, but again when you’re taking on a gaggle of girls it’s difficult not to start believing them.

My next encounter was in High School. Again I was that lanky, awkward girl who had braces, dyed black hair and to be honest was not the most popular person in the world. This time the bullies were male… no matter what I did or said it was ‘wrong’ or ‘stupid’. They often found it funny when I got angry or upset, one time I remember one of them stuffing leaves down my top which really hurt. It makes me sad to think about what I went through at that age as I felt people were telling me there was something wrong with me from all angles.

I went to South Africa to see family one Christmas and when I came back I was tanned, blonde and had a new attitude. The bullying stopped, but only for a short time. It was a superficial way to make the mocking stop.

When I moved to London at 16 years old; the years of being told I was crap burned inside me and ignited my ambition or ‘need’ to show people I wasn’t what they said I was. Through work, I gained success and admiration. Finally, I’d shown them that I wasn’t this geeky awkward girl, but inside that still how I felt about myself.

Even though people from my past seemed to back off and have even graciously even gone as far as to throw me a few compliments here and there, the scars were still there. I seemed to attract the same types of personalities but with different faces, which often happens when you’re subconscious is running the show. I’ve realised I encourage processing trauma and tackling the critical voice but actually, I’ve neglected the other side healing which is building confidence and discovering goals and qualities about the self we like.

Bullies are not happy people. When people envision insecurity people often think of a person hunched over, unable to look at anyone in the eye. When in fact insecurity can present itself as grandiosity, narcissism, control and bullying. Think about it why do you feel the need to antagonise someone who has done nothing to you? Why do you care? If the only way to feel good about yourself is to victimise other people than you have a problem. I’d compare it to a poisonous codependence.

I saw this case recently where a young girl encouraged her suicidal boyfriend to kill himself, not suggested it, but actually BULLIED him to do it. You can watch the story here. She tried to blame it on her mental illnesses and change of medication but luckily the Judge saw through her Bullsh*t and sentenced her. It really annoys me when people blame mental illness on their evil actions. They have nothing to do with each other! It just breeds stigma and contempt from people who don’t have a strong understanding of mental health.

 

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When we were kids our self-esteem and sense of self-worth is determined by the relationship we have with our parents. When puberty starts the validation seeking switches from parents to peers. It’s paramount we ‘fit in’, and be accepted by other children. We crave independence from our parents and start to form a personal identity that’s not reliant on Mum and Dad. So anything that makes us ‘different’ is a source of shame for the child because it means they are not ‘like everyone else’. For me, it was mainly because I was awkward, tall and had a funny sounding surname. I hated these things about myself and even developed a bit of a hunch to stop attention being brought to my height.

Now I love being tall, its one of best physical features. I love my awkwardness I think it makes creative and think outside the box. And my surname… well I half South African and proud. Go to South Africa and my surname is like ‘Smith’ over there.

During our teens, it’s all about the opposite sex. We care about being attractive and being desired and it really stays that way throughout adulthood. You could say some even look for validation from their children later on down the line. But in general, that’s the natural order of things.

 


 

Main Forms of Bullying:

Violent:

Physical forms of abuse include hitting, scratching, spitting and can even sexual dominance or abuse. This can be seen in school children wearing extra layers to hide the evidence of their attack. Or wives who claim the bruise on their eye was caused by ‘walking into the door’. It can also be used when describing the destruction of one’s property. Ie) Destroying items that the bully know means a lot to the victim.

Social:

This is when the bully will use other people to help them make the person’s life a misery. It includes spreading gossip or rumours; otherwise known as character annihilation, encouraging others to socially exclude them, mimicking or playing nasty jokes, sniggering behind someone’s back when you know it will upset them and so on. Through doing this the Bully can hide behind other people, thus not having to take ‘full responsibility’  and the face the consequences when discovered. It also makes the victim feel that it’s not just one person that has such disdain towards them, its everyone.

Verbal:

This is an attack of words which can cut really deep. It chips away at the person self-esteem and worth. The person becomes vulnerable and makes it easier for the malicious words to penetrate. Typical verbal abuse consists of shouting, patronising, insulting, name-calling, abusive remarks about someone’s gender, race, sexual preference etc… making someone the butt of the jokes, humiliation, the list goes on. The old ‘sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me’ is an old-fashioned saying, but it holds very little water because words can sometimes be mentally more damaging than physical abuse, especially over long periods of time.

Cyber:

This is a relatively new one. And has reared its ugly head with the rise of social media; ‘trolling’ has become a millennial epidemic. This is a real nasty one as again it relies on the pack mentality. It’s often said that if people were on their own they wouldn’t behave like that, but when they are in a group something happens. The group can attack not only the victim but other people involved in the person’s life like friends/family. The bombardment of internet messages can overwhelm the victim and has even been reported to cause the person to self-harm or even worse take their own life.  The internet is so vast that any wrong or malicious information can be escalated by vindictive people who don’t even know you, making it their life mission to spread as much hate as possible. This can also take the form of ‘Revenge Porn’, a scorned ex-lover putting a video of you in your most intimate moments for the world to see… creeps, family and friends…anyone. Its purpose is to cause maximum humiliation; thank God at least that’s now illegal.

 


 

Why do people Bully: 

I try to be diplomatic when it comes to explaining the reasons behind peoples atrocious behaviour as I believe we are not born ‘bad’. There are normally reasons why people behave the way they do. But when it comes to bullies, I find it challenging.

When it comes to children, I understand they don’t know how to express themselves properly. They may be bullied at home by siblings or adult family members and the only way they know how to deal with this is to make others feel bad about themselves. I understand this, it doesn’t make it right though. I would encourage the school to get involved with not just the victim but the bully as well. I suggest their circumstance ie) home life and mental health are analysed and be sent to see a counsellor.

Or if they are relatively ‘fine’, I’d say we need stricter punishment so the Bully does not carry on acting out into adulthood. Protection of the victim needs to be made an absolute priority as well as the after-effects of the abuse, this goes for adults at work as well.

Adult bullies, however, I have no sympathy for. To continuously hurt someone who is innocent (and I use this word because no one ‘deserves’ abuse) is bordering on Sociopathic. Maybe insecurity is driving it, but it’s what you allow your behaviour to be that really determines who you are as a person. Bullying can be a sign of jealousy, the victim has something the bully wants. In their twisted minds, they think if they pull that person down it will give them power, control and self-esteem. This may work for a short time but as we know it’s impossible to get validation from the external it will always be conditional. After a while, they may even get a kick out of doing it, to me, this is sadistic.

Having said this bullying also exists in the animal world. Obviously, animals aren’t doing it to be a dick. Although I’m sure there are animals out there who can be ‘so and so’s’ but I’m pro-animal so they can’t really do any wrong in my eyes. Any bullying behaviour would come from a place of survival as against nastiness. For example, the Omega Wolf is the lowest ranking member of the pack. The animal may not possess the right qualities to lead the pack and this will be a threat to the pack as a whole, so the Alpha Wolf dominates.

This is not to say the person being bullied is weak, but they may be smaller in stature or in some way vulnerable. Your vulnerability can be your biggest strength, it’s people’s ignorance that they think they can dominate you because you are shy or sensitive is a true sign of the bullies weakness. You are strong you just don’t realise it yet. The amount of bullies who have tried to suck up to me on Social Media since we left school is quite pathetic really. Shows a real defect of character.

 

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What are the signs of bullying?

From what I’ve experienced and researched there are certain signs. They may be subtle or obvious. I’ve experienced bullying even in acting/writing courses that were meant to be fun!  Great time that was!

  • If you dread going somewhere because certain people will be there. That’s normally a red flag that bullying is occurring.
  • It seems to be you vs the rest of the group and you feel singled out. You may feel like you’ve done nothing to encourage this treatment.
  • Everything you do is ‘wrong’. Things you say/do. They may question why you did this or that a certain way making you doubt yourself constantly.
  • You may hear rumours about yourself. Or some people could be really nice to you and then get involved in the ‘pack mentality’ against you. It’s often people who are malleable who tend to be easily swayed. They are incapable of having their own opinion.
  • Someone who criticises you constantly. And then often tells you you’re being paranoid. This is what’s known as ‘Reactive Abuse’. People taunt you or bully you to get a reaction out of you then label you as aggressive or crazy or whatever when in fact you were just reacting to their abuse or defending yourself.
  • Your instincts are usually spot on. If someone makes you uncomfortable you don’t have to put up with it just to keep the peace.
  • Mocking … again this goes with the last comment if you feel it’s done in a malicious way you are well within your right to call this behaviour out. They may tell you to not be so sensitive but this is also a manipulation tactic in order to make you doubt what you know is wrong.
  • When having a disagreement with someone, they use aggressive body language or start trying to dominate you. If someone tries to ‘intellectually dominate’ you watch out for this as it’s a form of bullying.
  • If someone who is nice to everyone else but pretends you’re not there then this again is bullying albeit a subtle form. They may exclude you from events that everyone else is going to. Or give you the short straw ie) knowingly overwhelming you with paperwork, and then criticising you for not being able to keep up.
  • Laughing can be used as a way to humiliate. So if you feel someone is laughing at you and not with you this is normally a red flag.
  • Nitpicking, again this goes with trying to make you feel like ‘everything you do is wrong’.

 

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Fighting Back: 

I don’t suggest fighting fire with fire, try water. I’ve acted aggressively towards the perpetrator in the past and it’s only escalated things. You can fight back from a place of strength and genuine power. You may want to ‘show them’ you are more than what they say. But this will all come in good time, trust me from experience.

Here are some tips:

  • Bullies are looking for a reaction. Don’t let them have one. Show their opinion of you is worthless. I know it’s hard, and even if you want to burst out crying right there and then (which you can do when you’re on your own) be strong and know you are taking away the bullies power.
  • Tell someone! Tell a person who has your best interests at heart. Sometimes in the workplace, it can be difficult as the bully may be your Boss! There is always someone more senior to tell. If the person is reprimanded then they will normally blame you. Know this is only because they are scared of the consequences in store from them, which they absolutely deserve. Even if you are worried people will think you’re exaggerating, just know bullying is bullying and you don’t have to put up with behaviour on any level.
  • Keep evidence. Start building a case against the bully. When you do tell someone they will be able to take stronger action if they have your evidence to back up the story.
  • Start building up a support group. I don’t mean a posse, because you’ll find some people don’t want to get ‘involved’. But a support system of friends who can help you and support you day to day whilst this is going on.
  • Do your best to realise that this has nothing to do with you. It’s them who have something wrong with them. Not you!

 


 

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Bullying is thankfully now being taken more seriously than it was in the past. It’s important we recognise the detrimental effect this kind of abuse can have on people whether they are a child or an adult.

People are speaking up on a massive international platform and this behaviour is no longer being tolerated. I think sometimes victims of bullying don’t realise the severity of their situation. They think they deserve this treatment or it may be in some way their fault. This is why we need to vocalise the signs and symptoms so people can recognise those insidious traits in the perpetrator, and take action to get out!

 

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If you want to read more posts like this don’t forget to subscribe to my blog. I’ll be writing a new post every Friday.

 

Warmest Regards

 

 

‘Sometimes you simply cannot save people from themselves’ – Reta Saffo (Kate Spade’s Sister)

The world is still reeling from the shock of losing one of Fashion’s biggest icons.

On Tuesday the 5th of June 2018 Fashion Designer and Entrepreneur Kate Spade was found dead. Her body hanging by a red scarf in her New York Appartment, she was aged just 55.

I’m not sure if there’s a rise in suicide or if there is just more awareness surrounding the issue as it’s normally people in the public eye who draw attention to an already ongoing problem. But it seems more than ever people are starting to realise the drastic impact Mental Health issues can have on a person, which fingers crossed is a sign things are changing. I pray this encourages understanding and compassion and is no longer a taboo subject.


The will to survive is in every living creature. So it seems to be going against what’s natural to take your own life. The desire to end life must be so strong it overrides the inbuilt survival instinct which is in our DNA.

It’s always a bit more of a shock when someone who seems to ‘have it all’ takes their own life. There’s an assumption that if we have money, success, family, marriage etc… we will be happy, it’s the ‘lack’ that’s the ‘problem’ we convince ourselves. Kate’s case goes to show this is simply not true.

‘Peace comes from within. Do no seek it without.’

– Buddha

There’s truth in what Kate’s Sister said. I have never committed suicide, obviously, but I have been tempted in my darkest hour. For me personally ‘hope’ got me through. And a faith that things would get better.

It’s possible to say that when someone takes their own life, all hope and faith has been extinguished. Ultimately it is your choice to go through with the act, no matter how much loved ones try to convince you otherwise. You have to believe you have something to live for in order to survive.


People who we’ve have lost to suicide in the last few years:

 

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Robin Williams:

Renowned Actor & Comedian.

Known for his exceptional talent and lovable personality.

Born: 21st July 1951

Died: 11th August 2014

 

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Avicii aka Tim Bergling:

Swedish DJ/Musician

He was only 28 y/o at the time of his death.

Born: 8th September 1989

Died: 20th April 2018

 

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Chester Bennington:

Lead singer of American Rock Band ‘Linkin Park’.

One of my favourite bands growing up!

Born: 20th March 1976

Died: 20th July 2017

 

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Stevie Ryan:

American YouTube star and Comedian.

Beautiful, witty and funny.

Born: 2nd June 1984

Died: 1st July 2017

 

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Alexander McQueen (CBE):

World famous Fashion Designer and Celebrity.

Talented, young and at the Top of his game.

Born: 17th March 1969

Died: 11th February 2010

 

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Kate Spade:

Famous Fashion Designer and Business Entrepreneur.

Mother, Wife and Business Woman.

Born: 24th Dec 1963

Died: 5th June 2018


Looking from the outside, I’m sure you’ll agree all these people had everything to live for. So what goes on in the mind to make suicide seem like the only option?

A friend of mine Jonny Benjamin who is a Mental Health Campaigner, Author and Vlogger; made an incredible Documentary about his experience with suicide and mental illness.

The Documentary follows Jonny as he searches for ‘Mike’ a random member of the public who saved his life that early morning in 2008.

Jonny who suffers from Schizophrenia, was loitering around the edge of Waterloo Bridge in a very bad way. Totally ignored by the tyrant of people hastily trying to get to work in morning rush hour. One man stopped. This man was ‘Mike’ aka Neil Layborn. He convinced Jonny to step away from the edge. Thankfully Jonny listened!

He didn’t know who this kind stranger was, so he named him ‘Mike’ and set up a Campaign called ‘Find Mike’. This was a nationwide search to find the Samaritan who saved his life that morning.

You can watch the full documentary here:

Stranger on the Bridge – Jonny Benjamin

Jonny, like myself, believes in challenging stubborn stigmas surrounding mental illness. Unfortunately there are some people who cannot seem to pull themselves out of the dark ages. They believe mental illness is only for the ‘weak’, when actually it takes a monumental amount of strength to carry on when your brain is trying to destroy you, every….single….day!

Some also believe ‘Suicide is selfish’. I’m sorry but this angers me! Its short sighted, simplistic thinking and just plain ignorant! Yes, I feel sorry for the person who has to find the body, but I also feel sorry for the person who was in so much pain that they believed the only way to make it stop was to die!

Advice for people contemplating suicide:

  • The mind is an extremely power entity. Mental illness is a disease of the thoughts. It intertwines itself with your sense of self, forcing you to believe a distorted reality. This illness wants to destroy you. You are more than just an illness.
  • Chronic thoughts circulate themselves over and over and over again. I know this is torture and can be like listening to a tap drip for years on end. But there is help out there, and maybe you have tried many therapies and it’s not worked. It’s normally to do with connection and the relationship you have with your therapist. The right one will make you see what these thoughts for what they really are…edited, biased bullsh*t versions of the truth.
  • Try and hang onto that little bit of hope that has seen you through so many times before. Hope is truth.
  • Sometimes you may not even want to die you just want your mind and pain to stop. The sick part of your mind tells you that there is no other way out. And worryingly this sick voice can disguise itself as the voice ‘trying to help you’. Anything in your mind trying to convince you to cause you harm is not on your side!
  • You’re not alone. Coming from someone who is still grieving the loss of my close family (especially my parents) I can relate to what true loneliness feels like. What kept me going was thinking about how much my Mum wanted to have me, and how heartbroken she would have been if I’d gone through with any sinister plans. I have a duty to keep the legacy of my parents alive. If your family are alive, just think about the pain you passing away would cause. Even after an argument, for example, you may feel vengeful and impulsive. There is no coming back from that decision. Is the value of your life worth that little?
  • Suicide is never a pleasant experience. I don’t think people understand how much the body fights to survive. I’ve heard of overdoses that can leave people in agony for days before they die. Or you may survive and end up with brain damage. Also a lot of people flirt with suicide without actually wanting to die, but things get out of hand and they can actually kill themselves without meaning to.
  • Build a strong support network around you. This is difficult to do, especially in cities. Which is why I attend a support group full of like minded people who understand, it’s important to find your tribe. You’re not alone, no matter how much your mind is telling you that you are.
  • Gratitude lists. In moments of immense pain your mind only focuses on the negative and catastrophises everything that is ‘wrong’ with your life unable to see anything good at all. Looking at the things you like about your life will stop you drowning in dangerous thinking. Gratitude lists can help you see things with a more balanced view.
  • If things are getting out of control call an ambulance. Your life is in danger, just like it would be if your body was hurt.
  • There’s always a solution to every problem.
  • Night time is never a good idea to make decisions about your life. Wait until the morning to see how you feel.

Helplines:

Samaritans: 116 123

Papryus: 0800 068 4141

Maytree: 020 7263 7070

I also discovered this website which I thought was really good. It’s letters from people who have experienced a range of different Mental Health issues. One of the main things to realise is that you can be helped, no matter what’s happened or how weird and painful your thoughts are; you’re not the only one in this boat facing the storm.

http://therecoveryletters.com/

There have been times when I’ve not believed things would ever change or get better, and I will be destined to continue to think in this horrible way 24/7 forever. Even worse what if these thought are true!? They’re not.

If you have survived suicide or lost someone close to you by suicide there is help for the aftermath:

http://supportaftersuicide.org.uk/

http://www.survivorsofsuicide.com/

https://uksobs.org/

Three D’s:

If you can relate to thoughts similar to the following I’d say you’ve spiralled into a dark, deceiving mood.

DOWNING: ‘Everything is hopeless. You’ll never get to where you want to be. Everyone else can do everything and you can’t because there’s something wrong with you. In fact everything you’ve tried has pretty much been a f*ck up. No one will ever understand these weird thought’s I’m having I don’t even understand them… I’m incurable and will always have to suffer’. (Sound Familiar?).

DEMANDING: ‘Look how old you are, you should be successful in your career/relationships/ personal life by now! Why haven’t you ever got the energy to do anything your so far behind everyone else you can’t even get to work/school on time! Why are you never happy you should be grateful! Why can’t you keep to anything to set out to do! You should be exercising but your too lazy!’ (Ergh go away you horrible F%4*6!rd voice).

DISASTERISING: ‘You’re going to turn up at that event and so and so is going to be there and you won’t be able to handle it! I bet he still thinks about his ex, and wonders why he is with you! I’m never going to be able to start this way of thinking! And then I’m going to have to go on benefits for the rest of my life because I’m too ill and won’t be able to hold down a job! Oh no I’m going to end up with 100 cats when I’m old… who would want me.’

And you wonder why you’ve had enough…

It’s a well known saying that ‘Confidence is quiet. Insecurities are loud.’ There’s something in you that believes things will get better, it’s the same voice that has carried you through all these years. This voice is to be trusted, no matter how small and quiet it is at the moment… it’s your strength.

 

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Let your faith by bigger than your fear. And be kind to yourself. You’ve been through enough.

Get help. Don’t always trust what your mind is trying to get you to believe. Don’t become another statistic. You’re not alone.

Take care of your beautiful, unique self.

Warmest Regards

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