Thursday, 30 January 2014

#TimeToTalk - My Turn

Yesterday I had my first meeting with the counselling services. I wasn't scared or worried (which makes a change!). I thought I'd just turn up, tell them what was wrong, and they'd get me some treatment sorted.

I got there after getting lost in the pouring rain. I was soaked and running late, and knowing the NHS, if I wasn't on time, I was worried that I'd lose my appointment. So that's when I started to worry. When I finally found it, it was the scariest building you'd ever seen. It was a big old Victorian mansion. It looked like your typical 'mental asylum'. The interior was equally terrifying, I could almost hear the screams of ghosts of patients receiving their electric shocks. Obviously they can't help where they're put, but it looked just like the place where Mr Rochester's wife out of Jane Eyre would have been imprisoned. Scary. But I can't blame them for that.

Luckily, although I was late I was still able to have my full hour long consultation. The woman was really nice, although loads younger than I expected. She only looked a couple of years older than me. I felt a bit embarrassed.

She gave me the questionaire to fill out. I was answering like really honestly, and at the anxiety part I was circling the highest number on every question. I didn't realise how overpowering the anxiousness was. She then gave me another questionnaire, specifically on anxiety, and that was equally bias.

She started by asking probably the broadest question ever: 'What's bought you here today?'

Where was I supposed to begin? There was so much to say. So I just started with what took me to the doctors. And then it just all spilled out. I even lost my train of thought at one point because there was just so much to say. I think I began every sentence with 'I worry...'

In the hour I was in there, I feel like I only talked about the tip of the iceberg. I never realised how vast the topic was. I keep thinking of things I forgot to mention. Like things I consider to be big. But they just got lost in my universe of troubles.

The lady said that she would contact me in the next couple of weeks to talk to me about what treatment she recommends. She said the waiting list could be up to 8 weeks long. Its already been 9 weeks since I first went to my GP.

She said would that it sounds like Cognitive Behavioural Therapy would be best for me. She recommended me going to a group, where other sufferers of anxiety go through the treatment together. Of course I still have the option of talking one on one with my therapist, but apparently it's more long term if you go with the group, which I think is what I need. Long term help. But I don't know if I can sit in a group of people and tell them about everything. I know that may sound stupid to you as you are reading this on a public blog, but actually speaking in front of people... I don't know what to do. What should I do? I'm so nervous.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

Doing Something: A Positive Post

The other day I had an idea. I thought I'd create a website that sells myself as a writer. I've been doing so much professional writing recently that I thought I had enough experience to start copywriting. It would be great place to keep my professional portfolio, to show to prospective employers and to even get some work from, by advertising myself as a copywriter.

I started making my website on a whim. I was bored. I was just seeing how it would go. I had no confidence that it would be any good. I was playing around with themes, creating and formatting pages, a bit of writing, just seeing how it went. Then I found the perfect theme for it, that looked professional and clear. Then I thought of the perfect tagline, 'helping you walk the talk'. I wrote a blog post, and content for the website, and it all began to fall together.  I found I could get my own domain name set up for £15 for two years!

As the website pieced itself together, I started to see how much I've learned, and how much I actually know about copywriting and marketing. And I'm not such a terrible writer after all.

With all the self-hatred and anxiety I have about myself, by doing this little project, I've been able to see that I kind of do have something good going for me. Its a good feeling, and I'm excited about it. I just like looking at the website I've created. I'm proud of it.

And why should my happiness depend on some choosy employer who doesn't give a shit about me? It might be more fulfilling to do it my way.

I am by no means 'cured' of depression and anxiety. It was only today where I had to try and calm myself down from what was dangerously close to becoming a panic attack. And I don't think I'm confident enough yet to promote it. But it's good to have something to focus on for a bit.

Tuesday, 7 January 2014

Domestic Abuse: It's a Girl Thing, Apparently

Today I was researching Domestic Violence as part of an article I was writing for work. I was shocked to find that statistics about domestic violence aimed at men under-represented among many of the main websites. In addition there was a lack of advertised help for men, such as helplines.

While carrying out my research for my article, I found that very little information and support was offered to men who suffer domestic abuse. I googled ‘domestic violence helpline’, hoping to find a helpline for both men and women. To my surprise, the first 10 results listed were aimed at women. The only result that offered advice for men was the government website which was the bottom result; but that was gender neutral.

Women’s Aid, Refuge and the National Domestic Abuse Helpline dominated the top results. While I don’t seek to discredit the work they do, (they offer great advice for women and children), they made it very clear that they offered no help for men. What most disturbed me was that the helpline that sounded most general, the National DA helpline, was so firmly aimed at women.

Obviously, domestic abuse is an awful circumstance for anybody, regardless of gender or age. The nature of those who abuse their partners/children/relatives do it in such a way that the victims feel alone, are often threatened into not telling anybody, and cut off from their loved ones. Of those victims that do manage to report domestic abuse, it is estimated that they are subject to 30 incidents before they come forward. Citizens Advice have estimated that at least half a million victims are too scared to report domestic abuse.

However, it can be argued that men find it more difficult to come forward because they fear the effects on their masculinity; they may feel they should be stronger; they are embarrassed because it is something that supposedly affects women more. Imagine you were a man who was being abused by a partner or ex-partner, and you searched google for help. Finding so much female related content could easily ostracize you further.

However, many men are abused, in both heterosexual and homosexual relationships. It can come in any form, such as psychological and physical abuse. A study in 2010, by Parity, suggested that 40% of victims of Domestic Abuse were men, contrary to popular belief.  It really isn't unusual for men to be victims of Domestic Violence.

So I did a bit more research into support for men, and found a whole list of great charities who help men in this position. It is vitally important that victims of abuse seek help, whoever they are. But if facing immediate danger, ring 999.

Men’s Advice Line: 0808 801 0327 (Freephone)
The CALM Zone: 0800 58 58 58 (Freephone)

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Another Cliched New Year's Post

Yes I do make New Year's resolutions. It's normally a good time to recap the year, see what was good and what can be improved. I think its pretty clear what needs to be improved!

I also find it really useful to have targets to work towards; it puts off that nagging thought of 'what's the point?' for a little while. I think this year I reached my life's goal by graduating from university, and so since then I haven't really had anything to aim for. This year I'm going to introduce some targets that will hopefully start improving my mood.

Ways to get happy:

  1. I will keep a diary again (and write in it everyday). I used to keep a diary every day from the age of 15 - 18 (they're pretty tragic and hilarious to read), and I need to do it again to try and express my feelings in the best way I know how. 
  2. I will do Race For Life. My best friend's lovely Nanny lost her battle with breast cancer a couple of weeks ago, so we've decided to do the run in her memory. Plus exersize is really good for preventing depression etc.
  3. I WILL NOT do another internship/work experience etc. It's immoral, it's depressing, and if 6 months experience isn't enough nothing will be.
  4. I will keep up this blog. It kills fascists after all

Let's hope 2014 will be better than the last (won't be difficult!) Anybody have any resolutions they are going to promise to keep with me?