Posted in depression, Health and Wellbeing, hopeless, mental health, Suicide, Uncategorized

Darkness Into Light

Image result for darkness into light

 

Hello everyone! Today I want to talk about an amazing event that I and thousands of others are taking part in on the 12th of May 2018. Darkness Into Light is a fundraising walk that takes place every year to promote suicide awareness and raise much needed funds for Pieta House, a charity that provides free supports for people who are contemplating suicide, have attempted suicide or have engaged in self harm. If you would like more information about this wonderful organisation or the Darkness Into Light events being held around the world, I will leave the links to their websites below.

Pieta House: http://www.pieta.ie/

Darkness Into Light: https://dil.pieta.ie/

If you are familiar with my blog you will know that I am very passionate about promoting mental health awareness, so it is a privilege to be able to participate in such

Image result for together in darknessan amazing event. To put things in perspective, Ireland is currently ranked 4th in the world for suicide rates among young men aged 18-24 (stopsuicide.ie), and Galway City was the 7th highest ranked area  in Ireland for female suicides between 2014-2016 (Central Statistics Office). In 2016 alone, there were 399 confirmed suicides in Ireland. Those were 399 human lives tragically cut short. 399 families who lost someone they loved. 399 people who the world didn’t get to help. 399 futures lost. For most of us, even 1 is too many.

Darkness Into Light is one of the small ways we can help to raise awareness, show our support and try to save lives. If you would like to help too but can’t take part in the walk yourself, I would appreciate it if you could sponsor my walk by donating whatever you can to Pieta House via the link here. Every cent counts and your donation will go towards saving lives and preventing suicide.

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Image from beyondblue.org

Depression, self harm and suicide can affect anyone at anytime. It could be yourself, a friend, a colleague or even a family member, so please do what you can to keep services like Pieta House available to those who need it.

If you suffer from depression or have thought about harming yourself, I have left some links below with information that can help you. You are not alone and help is out there. Please reach out to services like Pieta House, they care about you and will do everything they can to help you.

 

Thank you in advance to everyone who donates, takes part, or just generally supports services like Pieta House. Slowly, we are all working towards a world without suicide.

I hope you all enjoy your bank holiday weekend! Please don’t forget to donate by following the link below!

Link to my Darkness Into Light fundraising page: 

https://dil2018.pieta.ie/fundraisers/valeriemckay/galway-city

 

Services if you are contemplating suicide or self harm:

http://www.pieta.ie/contact-us

https://www.childline.ie/

http://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/need-help-now/

https://www.samaritans.org/

https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/

https://www.crisistextline.org/

 

References:

http://www.nsrf.ie/statistics/suicide/

http://www.stopsuicide.ie/suicide-myths-and-facts/

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Posted in depression, hopeless, Psychotherapy, Relationships, Self-reflection

Needs

Image result for spring
Image from seamensmoving.com

Happy Tuesday everyone! The sun has started shining once more and the temperatures are slowly beginning to rise. I am cautiously optimistic that Spring might finally be showing up!

Today I’m going to do a bit of reflection about something I have learned about myself recently. I would be interested in people’s thoughts about it if you would like to share them. So here it goes….

I was at therapy on Thursday and a topic that comes up a lot whether you are studying some form of therapy, or if you are in therapy yourself, is the idea of ‘needs’. When you think of what you need your mind may jump to the things our body needs to live such as food and water, or maybe you will think of things you want such as love or family or even material things like a house and money. Sometimes it is hard to decipher between a need or a want or to realise that what we want can actually be a need.

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Image from doncooper.com

I have come learn that I myself don’t like the term ‘need’ when it comes to my own needs. I care a lot about the needs of others and like to give them what they need, but turn that around and I hate the idea of ‘needing’ something from someone else. I don’t like relying on other people because I have it ingrained into my brain that they will just let me down. It is easy to come to this assumption when you have been hurt or disappointed by others in the past, but it dangerous when this assumption becomes fact to your brain. Asking for help, asking for the things that you need from someone else can become terrifying or just something you think is pointless. It can make you isolated and fearful of forming a relationship with others, not wanting them to get close enough to let you down.

Not only do I not like to ‘need’ things from others, but I also often don’t know what my needs are. My therapist often asks me ‘What do you need right now?’. Nine times out of ten I have no idea. My needs don’t enter my head. I could tell you what my brother needs or my mother or my stepdad, or my friends, but I have no idea what I need, because I don’t see my needs as important. You may think that makes me a selfless person which it doesn’t. I have selfish wants all the time, but not needs.

Not acknowledging my needs is a behavior I have picked up over time. I don’t blame anyone else for this behavior but I can see where it started and how  it continued to the point that I no longer see what I need. I need food, water, money to pay rent and bills, basic things to survive, I can acknowledge those things. Anything else like emotional needs are lost to me for now.

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Maslow’s hierarchy of human needs from quora.com

To come to this realisation was quite painful in a way. To acknowledge that I don’t think enough of myself to know what my needs are seems very sad to me. I suppose it gave me a sense of hopelessness. If I do not know what I need to be happy then how can I ever achieve happiness? That is when I found my first and second need. I need to accept I have needs and that they are important. I need to find out what those needs are.

I think it is a good thing to sit down every now and then and ask ourselves what we need. Even if it isn’t obvious straight away, it is a good habit to think about it until we come up with an answer. To fulfill our needs is one of the basic steps we take to achieve happiness, but taking those steps are so important.

I think it will take me a while to dig down into myself and discover what my needs are. I think it will take even longer to accept that I may need other people to help me fulfill some of those needs. For now I am happy that I have taken the first few steps towards figuring it all out.

I guess what I wanted people to take from this week’s blog is that it is ok to need. It is a normal part of life and your needs are just as important as everyone else’s.  It can be hard to see that sometimes but you are much better off acknowledging your needs so you can do something about them, than to hide them away and let them build up. If we are to help the people we care about with their needs then we must make sure we are taking care of ourselves first.

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Image from markmanson.net

I hope my little self-reflection gave you a little something to think about over the next few days.

Enjoy St. Patrick’s Day and take care of yourself!

 

 

-Vifa

 

 

Posted in hopeless, Uncategorized

My Battle With Mental Health Part 3

So this is the last part of this little blog series. I have enjoyed writing about it and have been pleasantly surprised by the responses I have gotten. Thanks again for all of the support!

I think one of the greatest things about counselling or talking to a mental health professional are the things you learn about yourself. Whoever you talk to is on the outside of your life, peering into a little window and seeing glimpses of the past and present that define you, that worry you, that make you feel vulnerable and weak. On the one hand that is a scary thing to imagine, but you will be surprised by how much they see by just seeing into that window. Beethoven saw things about me that I had been too distracted to see. He reminded me of how hard my life has been from the very beginning, how I have fought every day of my life for everything I have. He listed out some of the major things that I have gone through in my twenty four years on earth and asked; if he had told me that someone else had gone through all of those things, what would I think of them?  The answer came surprisingly quickly.

‘I would think that they are a really strong person’

I was reminded that I am a fighter. I am stubborn and strong, resilient and reliable and even though I hit a low point in my life, I was still fighting. By asking for help, by going on medication, by going to Jigsaw, I was not giving up, I was still fighting. It is something I find myself still trying to say to people today.

You are not giving up or admitting defeat, you are simply changing tactics. 

Sometimes we can’t fight alone, and for someone who has always been independent, it can take a lot to trust someone enough to help you. I put my trust in my family, in my GP and in Jigsaw and they all came through for me. I wouldn’t be where I am now without their help.

I went to sessions with Beethoven for five months. Session by session I trusted him more, let a little more out and piece by piece we built my confidence up again. One of the most important lessons  I learnt though was on my first day.

Beethoven explained that I am a brunette, so if someone turned around to me and said ‘your hair is blonde’ my mind would instantly tell me that this information is false. In a lot of cases of depression, sometimes you constantly think over the negative thoughts you have about yourself.

‘I’m a bad person’, ‘Nobody cares about me’, ‘I don’t deserve to be happy’.

These thoughts, and thoughts like these are just that; thoughts. When you repeat something to yourself over and over again, your brain will start to think that these thoughts are actually facts. To this day, if I catch myself thinking something overly negative about myself, I will say in my head (or out loud) ‘this is just a thought’, because that is all it is, a thought. I am a good person, I’m not perfect,  I make mistakes just like everybody else does, but I deserve to be happy and loved. You have to train your brain to dismiss a negative thought as false, just like it can with the colour of your hair. I have brown hair is a fact. You looking in the mirror and thinking: my hair makes me look ugly, is a thought. Recognising the difference helped me so much. It might seem like a simple thing to know, but when you are in place where you are surrounded by negativity, you quickly forget the difference.

Just before Christmas last year I felt well enough to come off my medication. I have no doubt in my mind that going on the medication was the right decision, but my doctor had been right, it wasn’t something I needed forever. I had my last Jigsaw session at  the end of January this year. Beethoven listened to everything, made sure everything I wanted to talk about was talked about, and that I felt happy to try and live life without Jigsaw. He told me I could come back if I needed too and he wasn’t lying. I had what I like to call a ‘top up session’ recently just to make sure I was ok during a difficult time. The sad thing is that my depression and panic attacks could come back at any time, but Jigsaw have given me the tools I need to handle them if they do. Most importantly though, they are there if I ever need that extra bit of help.

Life can be hard at times and there is nothing wrong with asking for help. If I want anyone reading this to take anything away from these blogs it is this: It will get better. There is hope for everyone out there. Sometimes you are so surrounded by darkness it is hard to see the light but I promise you, it is there. Not all of us can find it on our own but there are people out there to help. Never give up, you are worth the fight, and you will come out the other end a much stronger person. Mental health effects all of us whether we suffer from a mental health issue ourselves, or know someone who has one. It is everyone’s responsibility to make sure everyone knows that there is no shame in it and there is help there if and when you need it.

I am lucky that I am in a much better place now as recently I have become very aware that not everyone makes it. There are so many people out there who, like me, kept everything bottled up inside. Unfortunately, not everyone gets help on time and find they can’t go on fighting anymore. If you suspect anyone you know is going through a rough time let them know you are there for them, try and encourage them to talk to someone or maybe bring it to the attention of someone the trust and feel close to. Sometimes the smallest gesture can save a life. Try to be kind to everyone you meet, you never know what a person might be going through.

Thank you once again for listening to my story. Just knowing I have helped someone by writing these blogs has made it so worth it for me. I am not ashamed to talk about this anymore so please don’t be afraid to ask me questions. I have had a few people come up to me over the last couple of weeks to ask questions, or say that this helped them and it really does put a smile on my face. I am proud of myself for doing this and no one can take that from me. My mental health journey hasn’t ended, I don’t know if it ever really will, but I know that I will get though anything else life wants to throw at me because I have people who will be there to support me.

Thanks once again.

 

 

-Vifa