Medication Myth-busting Stereotypes

I’m back, world. On another mild rant, with awareness-spreading motives. Mental Health is huuuuuge. The effects it has on people, is actually phenomenal. The issue though, is the utter lack of conversation about these things. Words like ‘depression’ and ‘anxiety’ can silence a room sometimes, but why?? We should not be feeling awkward using these words, we should feel unbelievably proud for sharing an incredibly challenging and painful part of our life.

So, I’m back here again, talking mental health. This time, I’ll be talking about medication, stereotypes, and why it can actually be the best fit for an individual.

So here are three stereotypes, I’m going to clamp down on.

1. All mental health problems can be dealt with therapy and therapy alone.

**Okay, I just wanted to start this by saying that for some people, medication is simply not needed, they are able to cope with their issues through therapies like Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. I am also not saying that medication is the answer and will be the answer to all your mental health issues. Often, there is a deeper issue behind these issues, which can be dealt with through therapy, but medication is a way to regulate to do so.**

If you read my last post, you will know that I had quite a big mental breakdown earlier this year. And honestly, I can say that I would not be in the place I am today without  medication. It massively helped me in two key ways. The first, is the fact that it induces sleep, which I needed because, I did not sleep for about 4 nights straight, it also helps to regulate appetite, which at the time was very small and irregular. The second way it helped me, was by bringing me down to a lower level of anxiety and depression. Without this, I definitely would not have been able to resolve the deeper issues behind my anxiety and depression.

I would also like to add, that I know several people, who only need medication and that’s it. There is a simple irregularity in their brain chemistry, usually linked with the serotonin and dopamine neurotransmitters. Therapy is not for everyone, some people will try all different types of therapies and find it does not help one little bit.

2. Once you are on (mental health) medication, you are on it for life.

You’ve heard the statistic, 1 in 4 people experience mental health problems, we all know it’s 4 in 4 people, but that’s exactly the point. I guarantee that all of you reading this know at least one person who has experienced/is experiencing a mental health problem, however brief or long. Taking that decision to go on medication is not a rash decision that one should make, you are on it usually for minimum 3-6 months I say (don’t hold that against me, it truly depends on the individual). I have been on anti-depressants for about 5 months now and I am so thankful for it.

I remember when I had been experiencing lower levels of anxiety and depression before my breakdown, many people told me all the classic lines like: “Therapy will do it, don’t put toxins in your body” Erm that’s just wrong, smoking puts toxins in your body, medication is supposed to help you reach a normalised level. One of my favourites definitely has to be “You just need to keep thinking positive thoughts”, also I’ve had the whole “you’re so young” shpiel, like there’s this belief that because I am young, I am completely devoid from getting any mental health challenge in my life and that I “simply have nothing to worry about.”

Back to the point, being on medication isn’t a life-long sentence, it’s a helping hand to get you to a place in your life where you feel able to cope with life and push through challenges that would have been way worse without medication.

3. Mental health medication completely destroys your personality.

Okay, so I know people who have expressed this to me about friends and family members whose personality has been distorted whilst taking medication, but on the whole, medication has actually helped saved the lives of many an individual.

I just want to say that taking medication has changed my life for the better. I was at an event recently sitting with some friends, we were all discussing mental health stigma towards medication, then somehow at around the same time, we all said that we were on medication. It was such an amazing moment for me, to be surrounded by people living life better whilst being on medication.

Medication has not affected who I am as a person, it has made me a stronger and calmer person. It has actually driven me to beat this with the belief that I am not defined by my anxiety and depression. I am a more well-rounded person for having been hit hard in January and to still be here in one piece in June, having gotten through my first exam season since the breakdown.  I just want to say that, I am not trying to glorify medication, it’s not the answer and it’s not for everyone, there are little side effects, which are usually minuscule, but overall, it has truly helped me to be the person I want to be. I am determined to fight for increased discussion over mental health and to get rid of these stigmas entrenched in society.

Lou xo

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Hey, you! Yeah, you! Check out my first post.

Hey, world. How’s it going? Been up to much today?

This post is the beginning of my musings, a place where I can share my ideas, photos (check out my Facebook Page: Completely Candid Photography to see more) and views. I don’t have a load of writing experience, but here goes.

This first post is about the importance of kindness. Kindness plays such a huge role in our lives. It’s actually unbelievable how by just holding a door open for someone, you can make someone’s day. You may be reading this and having a bit of a giggle. You might be thinking: Lou, what real effect will this have on someone’s day?

Now, let me just elaborate a little further. As a society, we are all absorbed in our phones or laptops. Just thinking about this now, I am on my phone all the time, in between journeys, when I get home and even I fall victim to going on my phone when with my friends. Does that make me an unkind human being? No. It’s about taking ourselves away from technology and doing something for other people.

Back to holding the door open for someone, let me set the scene for you. There is a young man, early 30’s, well dressed, attractive, looks like he has a good job, it looks like everything is going well for him. Let me just emphasise the word ‘looks’ here. Someone’s appearance presents only a small percentage of what they feel like on the outside. What you don’t know about this man, is that his girlfriend just left him for another man, he is heartbroken and has lost hope in the world and for the future. Everything seems to be going wrong for him. You walk into a café and spot this man walking in behind you, you give him a smile, hold the door open for him and carry on with your day. You might not believe it, but you have just made that man’s day.

You might be thinking, how on earth can opening the door really make this man feel better about himself? And I agree. I really do. I am not saying that this will solve his possible depression or feelings of hopelessness, but to know that some stranger was kind enough to take a minute out of their day to offer an act of kindness to him, offers a glimmer of hope, just a small moment where his thoughts aren’t preoccupied by negative, intrusive thoughts.

I just wanted to provide a real life example of this, that you all might have heard of. It’s the story of a man who was experiencing great despair and suicidal thoughts. This man was on Waterloo Bridge in London, considering taking his life and a great Samaritan walked past and spoke to him for hours, telling him things would get better. He managed to get this man to have a coffee with him and just talk to him. After getting therapy and recovering, there was a huge campaign over social media to find this guy who saved his life. They are friends now still and ran the marathon together this year. This is such proof that one act of kindness can literally save someone’s life.

I just wanted to finish this post, with a picture I took in Tel Aviv, last summer and hit you with some thoughts below, which I had back at the time.

Sometimes things aren’t obvious in life. You spend so much time going from A to B, this to that and you don’t see the bigger picture. With photography, you are able to use such a beautiful piece of equipment to produce a simple photo like this. All there is in this picture is a bunch of pomegranates, but by playing with the aperture, you are able to capture the best one, the juiciest let’s say. This juicy pomegranate is a metaphor of the best things in life. It’s a reminder to see the best in every situation. Life is difficult for all of us in different ways and sometimes it isn’t so easy to find that juicy pomegranate of our situation. But taking those steps to start appreciating life and offering that little bit of kindness to others, can help you to see the bigger and happier picture, so to change your outlook on life and even other people’s.

 

So, be kind everyone.

Lots of love,

Lou xo

Perspectives. What’s yours?

Hey, world! I’m back!!

I know you missed me dearly. I’ve just been thinking recently that I really enjoy having this space where I can share my thoughts. It’s so so cathartic, and the great thing is, that I might be able to help people whilst sharing my own stories.

So, here goes.

Earlier this year, around Christmas, I felt pretty stressed to say the least. To be honest, I’ve been stressed numerous times before about so many things, predominantly revision and exams. Progressively over the years, since AS levels, I became more and more stressed in different, new ways that I had never seen before. It first started off with panic attacks, palpitations and several breakdowns in front of my friends and family. Then, more recently came the lows. I had always been worried about exams, but this time around, I had it set in my mind that exams defined my life. And in my head, I had to just keep working, despite the fact that nothing was going in partly because I wasn’t giving myself any breaks. Even though I took evenings off, I hardly saw anyone. It took serious encouragement from my parents to see my best friend. Little did I know that what was ahead of me was one of the most horrible experiences of my life. So with what little revision I had done, I headed back to university. I had it in my head from numerous encouragements from my parents, that whatever happens, we will deal with it together. I am so so lucky to have extremely supportive parents. They are definitely the most amazing people ever, so I hope you’re reading this this, Mum and Dad!!!

Anyways, back to the story. I had made my way back to uni. I got back on Saturday evening and that week I had three exams: Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. From that Saturday night, in fact, for two weeks before then I was having difficulty sleeping, but on from the Saturday night, I was unable to fall asleep at all. Like all attempts to shut off, were not working. From meditating, to listening to classical music, to having a warm shower. My housemate even told me to cook a banana in boiling water and drink that. That tasted bizarre lol, I definitely would not recommend that. But all in all, it was not a pleasant experience, not one bit.

Looking back now, sleeping way more and just being in a way better place mentally, I can honestly say, that that was one of the most challenging and painful experiences of my life. I felt like I had completely regressed after all the independence and maturity I had developed from my 2 years at uni and that I was stuck.

I just wanted to use this piece to firstly, despite the utter difficulties that experience gave me, to explain how  thankful  I feel, that I went through that and came out the other side. If that doesn’t show that there is light at the end of the tunnel, I don’t know what will!! The second reason why I wanted to share this piece, is just to give a few tips and ideas, if you are currently going through some sort of mental health battle at this point in your life.

So here are Louise’s 3 top tips, which have helped me, so I hope they help you!

1. Speak to someone

This might sound obvious, but sometimes the easiest thing is just to vent. Whether if it’s a friend, family member or even on an (anonymous) online forum! I can really recommend the ‘7 cups of tea’ app, it’s this great anonymous app, where there are both forums for particular mental health issues, like anxiety, depression, eating disorders, but there are also separate chats with anonymous ‘listeners’ who are their out of their own choice to listen to whatever you are going through at that point in time! Whichever person you choose to speak to, it feels great either way to off-load to someone, they can also nudge you in the right direction, like to go to a GP or to consider therapy.

2. Find yourself a cathartic hobby

Think about what you really enjoy doing, that one thing that helps you destress and clear your mind. I have friends who write poems, songs, spoken word pieces. I, personally love writing. It’s not until so recently that I’ve begun to publicise some of my thoughts on mental health. In fact, exactly a year ago, was the first time I shared a snippet of my life onto social media and I have never felt happier about that decision.  The thought that my experiences can help even 1 person, is something I can treasure for a lifetime. A couple of other hobbies that really help me, are photography and in particular exercising. I got into kickboxing a couple of years ago, and at first it was this random activity we did at school, then I took it up in first year and loved it, I really think it helped  me cope with my anxiety and developing depression. I have been doing it less this year, however, I still manage to get to the gym or play badminton when I can.

3. Empower yo’self people

*cue mini-rant*

Nowadays, there is such a pressure to be perfect. Perfectionism is definitely something I experience, always putting pressure on myself to do everything to the hundredth degree. Especially, as students(/teenagers), we are expected to: have 8 hours sleep a night, go to all of our lectures and seminars, have a solid social life, go to the gym three times a week, eat healthily, be looking for internships for the summer holidays, work incredibly hard, have experience in the field in which we wish to work in the future.

Can we all just take a second to think about this?? This is ridiculous!

There were definitely not these pressures on generations before us. With all these pressures to be perfect and be slim and toned, it is understandable why there has been such a rise in mental health issues, 1 in 4 people have a mental health illness, but does that include those who are not diagnosed? Realistically, it’s 4 in 4 people who experience some sort of difficulty in their life.

*rant over*

Back to the tip, despite all these stupid, ridiculous pressures we have on our life, we need to learn to love ourselves and notice how incredible we all are! Some ways you can do these are stick up motivational quotes all around your room. Here are a couple of my faves:

This last tip is definitely my favourite. Every morning and every evening, as soon as you wake up and before you go to sleep, you should say 3 great things you like about yourself. You’re probably thinking, what on earth? How is that going to help? By picking up those amazing things about yourself, you learn to love yourself. It isn’t easy at the beginning but, you’ll be surprised how easy it is by the 4th or 5th time of doing it.

Remember: You’re stronger than you think,

Lou xo