And The Winner Is…

I am delighted to say I have the stamp of approval from the amazing Jess and Bipiolar Compass

The Bipolar Compass

Ready. Set. Sail!

Good news everyone, I have finally picked a winner for the Featured Blogger Contest! Believe me, it was a REAL CONTEST!! The entries dealt with stigma, suicide, depression, mania, anxiety, and family: all key issues in the mental health realm. I was amazed and happy for the thought-provoking and beautifully written and honest posts. Thanks to everyone for their submissions. I’ll have to do this again sometime.

Anyways… Drum roll please…

… it’s Aidan O’Connell from End The Stigma.ie!! Here is his winning entry:

17.4 When my Girlfriend killed herself

All of the entries were wonderful but this one won because of how raw and honest it was. It’s a story of a man who lost his girlfriend to suicide a few years back. His vulnerable and poignant portrayal of a wonderful woman taken in the prime of her life…

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17.4 When my Girlfriend killed herself

So I have been looking at a blank page for a while, a long while. I am not sure how to start this, how to write this. There’s a strong chance I may not post this. My plan now is to write something short, as I am already a little upset having just wrote the title

So in 2007, I was in the middle of my ten year career as a VIP in Copper Face Jacks and had become separated from my friends (easy with 2000 drunk people) and to anyone who’s ever been there you cannot move an inch, I was sitting on some speakers that were off in a corner very few went near. I was sitting on the speakers and downing the drink in my hand when this gorgeous dark haired girl with a crazy amount of red colouring  (I like dark hair or crazy coloured hair, everybody who know me knows this)  I decided to use a little courage and said “Hey I love your hair” She smiled the most beautiful while teeth smile and told me she had lost her friends.. I said “join the club’ it’s Coppers”

I offered a space to sit down as she was wearing beautiful heels. I’ll admit, she was hesitating, but she tentatively jumped up on the side of the enormous speaker. They say there is no such thing as love at first sight (there wouldn’t be for me with a girl looking at me! That night though,  I was weighing less, so I was 6ft 3, maybe 14.5 st and wearing a red t shirt and blue jeans, my hair was longer and wet look spiky) Laura was wearing the most beautiful short black dress and looked stylish and classy and her eyes were so intriguing that I fell in love with her immediately. We started to talk and we gelled, an hour slipped by (a few trips to the bar) when a friend found her (and I cursed under my breath!) I didn’t have the courage to ask Laura for a number, as she was beautiful and her friends were obviously used to seeing guys hanging off her, as she was whisked off.. She went into the crowd and I put my head in my hands when I got a tap, I wasn’t interested, so I didn’t look around, until I heard the west of Ireland accent of Laura and she kissed me so passionately that I knew then and there that I’d met the girl I would marry.

Laura’s friends were behind her trying to pull away from a drunk  Dub, but the kiss lasted and I said and I recall all of this so vividly I asked her “Give me your number and 1 date and 1 chance” She agreed and I keyed in and rang her so she had mine (good verification of number check!) We said goodbye. I didn’t look for my friends, I got my jacket and went home and passed out into sleep. I woke up and felt like sh1t the next day, but I immediately located my phone and checked last dialled numbers and there she was “Laura”

OK 500 words, I’ll speed up. We had a date and it was awesome and she asked me back to her apartment in Rathmines. It was here I discovered that she liked to drink as we had been out all night, we had a full nights drinking, but we went through three bottles of red wine and without getting too personal, we shared a bed without any “action” I woke up the next morning feeling like I had been dragged through a bush eight times, but I looked over at the young slim lady beside me and watched Laura sleep and I touched her skin and hair.

It was from there that we became like twins joined at the hip. I practically moved in with her and if I wasn’t with her in her apartment, she was living with me, we never had a row, we never disagreed, we discovered we liked the same music and went to Dublin and Mayo football matches and started to holiday abroad. She was a good deal younger than me, I was 27 and she was 23. I told her I loved her. She didn’t reciprocate there and them but as 2007 turned in 2008 she told she was in love with me. She made positive compliments and boosted my self esteem,

I discovered Laura had a clinical depression and was drinking too much. As I was drinking whiskey like water that wasn’t a major problem, but the clinical depression was frightening. I remember many nights when we would talk and she would curl into the foetal position and sobbed her heart out. I held her. I wiped the tears away. She would fall asleep and then I would have a few tears as the person I loved most in the world was upset and broken. I would watch her have night terrors and I brought her to the doctor and psychotherapy appointment. I would silently say prayers to whoever might be out there and was finding it draining. I discovered she had sexual abuse at a young age, heartbreaking.

I made a decision I wanted to get married at 28 and I spent a fortune on an engagement ring and was shaking as I asked her father (important to do things properly and we got on well) He said yes and Laura said YES! We both hugged and held each other and didn’t let go all night or the next day.

Laura’s Mental Health problem wasn’t improving, but she had stopped drinking madly. I brought her to a lot of GP’s and specialists but it was all a prescription pad and a medication and some of the consultants were shockingly bad. Laura was too afraid to start the Meds.

A friend of mine was celebrating a birthday and had asked me to go to the Canary Islands. I said “No”, but Laura talked me into it. She was insistent. Something I look back on.

I was miserable as soon as we left Ireland. I drank like a fish and I was counting down days until Wednesday 08.08.08. That morning I took a phone call from a friend saying “I am so sorry Aidan” I was confused, I was hungover. Word began to reach me that Laura had taken her life ( it was mistaken my some friends that I was in Dublin). I remember the room spinning and I understood I fainted. I woke up in a clinic and look there’s a stigma against this- but I was sobbing. I was heavily sedated and slept (late flight) My great friends got me to the airport, but upon awakening I slipped up the ground and I was lying on the ground and sobbing uncontrollably. I remember some Britosh tourist coming over and making a derogatory comment and I knocked him out with 1 punch (I’m ashamed of this) The Airport police had me in next, but my friends and medics got involved and I was OK, more sedation, flight home.

The hardest thing I ever did was meet Laura’s parents. They liked me and I liked them, there was a postmortem. I had the difficult task of going up her empty apartment and trying to get her clothes and stuff to bring to her mom as requested, I again broke down uncontrollably (sorry for losing my manly reputation) I did what I had to do. I took a few cardigans and slept with them till the last ounce of her perfume and smell left them, I had a very important work position at the time and I wasn’t getting on with my parents (I didn’t tell work or my parents) I know it sounds crazy.

The removal was a blur. I was drunk but hid it. Looking at her dead body led me to embarrassingly collapse again and I ruined the event as emergency services were called. I was fine!

The funeral was the most difficult thing I ever had to do in my life. I had quite a fair amount of whisky and I can’t write much here now as I’m very upset writing this, but carrying the coffin was the hardest thing I’ll ever have to do in my life. I know I’ll never have to face anything like that again. I can’t say anymore. I visit the spot she drowned herself and came close to doing the same she did myself on 18 May 2015. I understand the distinction between Suicidal Ideation and Intent and I don’t or ever had intent as far as I know

Can we please end the stigma on suicide. Laura passed the line of despair that a human can take. I’ve had relationships since but they sucked ! I have her parents approval to try and find someone. I’m old at 36 and I want kids, I’ll always love Laura. She’s sitting on my shoulder as I write this. I love you Laura .

RIP Laura. RIP my precious beautiful angel bride I never got to spend my life with.

Aidan

AOC

13.4 Anxiety is compex

 

Hey,

So a couple of important points- today’s blog is from a

friend of mine called Megan. Megan is studying Communications in the the University of Missouri-Kansas city and is a co leader of the awesome #imnotashamed (You’ll remember I had the amazing Rachel Grffin as a guest a couple of months ago!) Megan works closely with another girl called Bethany who also does a great job moderating the hugely successful movement. Shout out to Bethany.

APOLOGY TO MEGAN

My new site goes live22.4 and all blogs will be migrated.Ill be on a pretty wicked platform. I say this because..

Megan send me her guest blog in MS Word with some excellent pictures she selected as appropriate. I cannot get these into WordPress with my IT limitations (!). I have tried and tried and tried and tried! Megan, when I migrate, your pics will be in as I feel you personally selected these, so they should go in

PERSONAL NOTE

I think a lot of people underestimate Anxiety. They think of Anxiety as something we all have or as relatively minor, but if you read Megan’s words carefully, you’ll see how overwhelming and life changing and life challenging anxiety can be

THANK YOU

Thank you to Megan for writing what I consider to be one of the very best blog entries (and I now have 56 in 104 days since I kicked off on Jan1) Megan is going to be a great writer or continued Mental Health Advocate or whatever she chooses to be post Communication studies. I have to tell you this too and I hope Megan doesn’t mind (!), but she is also an incredibly strong girl with her gym work, she’s lifting weights and could be the next Ronda Pusey or Holly Holm! She’s encouraged me by virtue of gym talk on her Twitter to get back physically attacking anxiety and readers of my site will know a previous entry indicated I have entered the MMA world at beginners.

Megan,thank you for being you

Let’s end the stigma on Anxiety,

I believe that By talking about it, Megan helps end the

Over to Megan

 

Anxiety is something that has haunted me since the age of fourteen. It’s always been there sitting on my shoulders causing me to question everything, everyone, and every situation in my life. Anxiety is like that little birdie that sits on on your shoulder and tells you things that you know aren’t true, but the more they are repeated, the more you start think about what your mind is saying. The more you think, the more your mind begins create that aren’t there.
I constantly feel as though I am prisoner of my own mind. I am not able to think freely because if I can get that chance to think of something happen, then my thoughts will turn into the what if’s and what could happen if something goes wrong. It’s as though I’m being held prisoner and I’m not to think and feel freely. I’m not able to live my life in leisure and relax for the time being. My mind is constantly racing from the beginning of the day until I go to sleep. Even then, I have to force myself to shut my mind off and I’m able to sleep. Some days are better than others but I fight my mind every day to make it towards the end.

That voice never shuts up. It’s in your mind constantly telling you things that you know aren’t true but the more they talk, the more you start to believe them. The more you start to wonder if in fact they are true. It’s like that friend you have or have had that never stops talking, not even for a minute. It’s the voice that never goes away and never has anything good to say. It makes you exhausted, drained, as though you’re lost in the darkness and you’ll never find the light. It’s crippling and makes you feel as though you’re incompetent, not good enough, and you’re just a waste of space. Where is the positivity you ask? They are tiny specks of dust or paper that are overshadowed by the negative thoughts.
It’s always there, the panic, the anxiety but you can’t see it. Panic taps me on the shoulder a few times a day. Some days, I can brush it off and other days, I want to crawl into a hole and never come out. Those days are the days where I fight the hardest and trying to make it to the end of the day. Some people call me lazy, weak, and make it seem like I want attention. But, let me tell you something? I am none of these things. My anxiety and panic attack would drop you to your knees. People make assumptions based what they think and believe and often times when I hear these assumptions about Anxiety and Panic it makes me angry. If people experienced what myself and others dealt with, I highly doubt they think if they experienced it first hand. If you wanna know what Anxiety feels like, here are few quotes from others and what they believe Anxiety feels like.

“It’s like you’re constantly drowning and the more you try and make it out, the harder it is to rationalize these feelings and make it the surface.”

“It’s like being lost in a fog and trying to find your way out.”

“It’s emotionally draining and makes you feel like the thoughts and words will never go away.”

“When Anxiety hits me, I feel as though I’m a prisoner of my mind. As soon as I feel some sense of freedom, it comes back and remind me that it will never leave.”

“It’s like a blanket tightening around you. It’s overwhelming, exhausting, and drains you mentally, physically, and emotionally.”

“It’s overwhelming. It’s like a million thoughts are invading your brain and you don’t how to shut it off or rationalize it. They just keep forming and you wonder if they are ever going to go away.”

These are just a few of the feelings one can experience with Anxiety. It’s not just in our heads, it’s real and it’s something that needs to be taken seriously. It’s not because when I have told people about my Anxiety in the past, they just look at me and laugh and tell me how much it sounds like it’s in my head when in reality, I know that it’s real and I’m not just asking for attention. When people tell me this, I get very defensive and tell them if they were look inside my head for a day or live my experiences, they’d feel differently.
Anxiety is a crippling feeling that affects millions of people. Anxiety is a normal feeling and emotion but when it becomes too severe, it becomes a problem. When the Anxiety is overwhelming and you fear you can’t function and you don’t know what to do. This is what happened to me and has happened to many others. The anxiety manifests and soon you are unable to control it and you end up having to use other resources such a medication, breathing exercises, and other methods of therapy that can help. That still doesn’t help the person suffering with the Anxiety. Recovering from an Anxiety attack can take days or even weeks to finally feel like things are back to normal. For a person that doesn’t experience Anxiety that doesn’t seem like a big deal but to someone with Anxiety, it is a huge deal.
My name is Megan and I have extreme and severe anxiety almost to the point that it’s crippling. I was diagnosed in 2014 with a General Anxiety Disorder and I suffer from panic attacks that have become a part of my life. They don’t define who I am as a person, they are a part of me. Anxiety will not control my life and I am a Mental Health advocate so I can speak for others who can’t speak for themselves. Anxiety is something that affects millions of lives and people need to wake up and pay attention. This isn’t something that will go away anytime soon, this is a very serious Mental Illness and I believe that with more awareness to Mental Illness, the better. I am not ashamed of having Anxiety or Depression, they are a part of me but they don’t define who I am.

If you or you know someone with Anxiety, please be patient with them and get them or yourself help as soon as possible. There is nothing to be ashamed off. Don’t be afraid to reach out. Anxiety like any Mental Illness can be crippling but you can overcome it and take control of your life. Show Anxiety who is the boss and show people that you can handle it and you aren’t going to let it control you.
 

Brillant

 

Aidan

AOC

10.4Dissociative Disorders

Hey,

So I got an email from a cool guy called Matt 5 days ago saying he had been following My site and Twitter and could he write. I said absolutely and began to read his Twitter and material and I saw he goes with the title “Surviving my past” which is a pretty interesting handle that pulls you in more. I looked at what he spoke about and I saw there was a lot, but Dissociative disorders jumped out, as we haven’t had that on the previous 50+ personal and guest posts before. I have to be a little bit innocent here and say when I had heard of this before I had thought mistakenly Multiple personality disorders or someone who’s mind moved away from them for a period of time. I wasn’t a million miles away, but I could have been a lot closer and now know a lot more now after reading this excellent guest article and I think you will too. This poster stems his condition back to childhood sexual abuse, so it’s a difficult, but educational post and I plan to stay in touch with the writer and should you want to connect, the details areat the bottom of the post.

I will hand over to the expert as I do in these instances

Lets now end the stigma on Dissociation.

My sincere thanks and best wishes to Matt.

 

So what is it like living with Dissociation as a result of childhood sexual abuse? That’s a pretty loaded question and can be a very personal experience rooted in such deep trauma that even thinking about it causes flashbacks and anxiety.
When I first learned from my therapist that I Dissociate, I had to ask her what in the world that even was. I’d never heard the term before. Incidentally I’ve learned a lot over the last year, about what I suffer from that I never realized. Therapy can be so enlightening and educational, and completely intimidating too. Talking about your traumatic experiences is not exactly like a day at the beach.
The definition of Dissociation is as follows : Dissociation is a mental process that causes a lack of connection in a person’s thoughts, memory and sense of identity. Dissociation seems to fall on a continuum of severity. Mild dissociation would be like daydreaming, getting “lost” in a book, or when you are driving down a familiar stretch of road and realize that you do not remember the last several miles. A severe and more chronic form of dissociation is seen in the disorder Dissociative Identity Disorder, once called Multiple Personality Disorder, and other Dissociative Disorders.
Countless people Dissociate now and then, as referenced above it can happen just about any time. Those milder forms such as when you read or are driving, are quite common. However, the more traumatic forms, once of which I have, DDNOS, can be very scary at times and also very frustrating to deal with.
DDNOS is defined as: A dissociate disorder NOS (Not Otherwise Specified) is a disorder that includes a dissociative symptom (i.e., a disruption in the usually integrated functions of consciousness, memory, identity, or perception of the environment) that does not meet the criteria for any specific Dissociative Disorder.
Basically I exhibit one or more different types of Dissociative Disorders but not to the point of being narrowed to one specifically. It’s just my luck, even in a Mental Health disorder I can’t make up my mind what I am.
I’ll expand a bit on how it affects me personally. My mind is always going at 100 mph and in 10 different directions. It never just shuts down or takes a day off unless I’m sleeping. Even then, the dreams I have quite often assure me that even at rest my mind more than capable of over thinking and analyzing.
I learned that when my abuse happened, it actually Dissociated during the events as they transpired. To me that seemed to weird but from what I’ve learned it’s actually quite common. The brain is amazing in so many ways, one of which is its ability to protect us from what it knows we can’t handle emotionally. Even as much as I want to understand what happened to me, which I’ll get into more in a bit, I’m glad that my brain was able to protect me at the time. After all I was only 5-10 years old when the neighbor down the street began molesting me after grooming me for quite some time, actually convincing me that this was cool and fun and our special secret! Still gives me chills (in a bad way) to think about it.
The most common ways that I Dissociate on a daily basis are the typical “zoning out” for example when I’m sitting at my desk at work or at home. My mind will wander to something completely unrelated to the task at hand. Or I’ll notice something out of the corner of my eye and just stare at it for a few minutes and I snap back to the here and now and be like, “what was I just doing?”. I do it when I’m writing too. Even as I write this I’ve had to go back and fix several repeated sentences and grammatical errors because I get on a roll and start rattling off thoughts and don’t realize I’ve repeated myself multiple times.
I also do it when I’m reading. I will sometimes have to re-read the same paragraph or page more than once to get it to sink in. Even then when I’m re-reading it, I have to seriously focus on what I’m doing or I’ll get stuck on the same stupid page repeatedly. It’s quite frustrating especially when I’m reading so many self-help type books to educate myself about my past and current conditions. Trying to retain all that knowledge is unbelievably frustrating because it takes forever to fully sink in, and sometimes some of it still doesn’t. Thank goodness for bookmarks and highlights on my Kindle!
Flashbacks and Dissociation, that’s a big one for me. Probably the biggest one. I’ve learned through therapy that I not only experience flashbacks, but I Dissociate during them too. The flashbacks started after an epic 2-hour therapy session that caused me to finally open up about my past. I told my therapist that I wanted to connect with and feel my past trauma so I could learn from it and use that as healing tactic.
I guess you could say it kind of backfired on me in some ways. I wanted to have an epic release in her office in the form of crying or anger, but my brain was having none of it. Instead I left there frustrated that I couldn’t connect with my past at that moment and consequently ended up with my first flashback the next morning.
Back to the topic at hand, I Dissociate within a Dissociative event. Talk about frustrating and mind blowing. My mind took me away during the abuse when I was a kid, and now when I have a flashback I can only connect with it so much before my mind takes it away again. I get only bits and pieces in each episode and they last for typically a few minutes to as long as 10 minutes. I get visions of the abuse, the rooms it happened in, the events themselves, and during that time I’m almost frozen or “stuck”.
Then just like that, they are over and within a few minutes I can go about my day and usually be ok. It’s very odd since so often flashbacks can take a person out of commission for hours, days, or even weeks at a time. I guess I’m fortunate in that respect that mine, while they happen multiple times a week, aren’t as bad as they could be.
That doesn’t really make me feel any better though. I still want to connect with and learn from them, but mind takes me away during each one because it also took me away when I was abused so long ago. Imagine trying to connect with something you never really connected with in the first place. For an over thinker and analyzer like me, it’s unbelievably frustrating.
So that’s a little bit about what Dissociation means to me in my daily life. I continue to see an amazing therapist twice week, participate in multiple online survivor chats, and immerse myself in writing and education about my trauma. For me it’s therapeutic to work through all of this and better understand how I can help myself, and help others.
Please check out my blog, SurvivingMyPast.Net and on Twitter: @SurvivingMyPast – I’d love to connect with you during this healing journey.
-Matt
SurvivingMyPast.Net

Many thanks to Matt again and very best wishes for the future

Aidan

AOC

 

9.4 Living with Agoraphobia

Hey,

So today, we have our first post, it’s almost incredulous that we haven’t had a post about Agoraphobia. I spend a lot of time on Social Media working with kind souls and it doesn’t come up much either!! We all have heard of this condition, but how many of us have lived with it or really assessed what it might be like. I can’t put it any better than today’s guest Narene. Narene is also very helpful in that after explaining this difficult complex disorder, we are offered tips for those of you reading this who have Agoraphobia and that’s very kind.

I will simply pass this over to the expert and please see important details at the bottom of the blog re an exciting new blog launching in July.
So I was a little surprised when Aidan contacted me to write this article one of the things that stuck with me was that he hadn’t had any guest bloggers that had suffered Agoraphobia. That made me think perhaps not everyone knows what Agoraphobia is, so I guess I will start this by explaining the definition of Agoraphobia.
Agoraphobia (big scary word and is an anxiety disorder)
Agoraphobia is an anxiety in situation where you perceive the environment to be dangerous uncomfortable or unsafe. Some situations include open spaces, closed spaces, shopping malls (my nightmare), social situations (often impossible), and airports (funny because I have worked at a few of these and now couldn’t imagine stepping close to one). Like panic disorder we have a fear of having another anxiety attack to the point that we often stay in our safe place (for me my home), avoid social outings and find ourselves disconnected from society.
For me this wasn’t the first time that I have to deal with this pest anxiety I spent a long period of time through my teens and young adult life with an eating disorder which was like an up and down roller coaster of emotions that I have successfully broke free from, so I knew when I was involved in a car accident almost 4 years ago that I would need to prepare myself for a battle, I spent 7 months in physio and a good proportion of that strapped

I went back to work very quickly to a very stressful position in horrific pain (but I am tough) I got to a point with my physio that they said this is the best the pain would be and that I would most likely need to live with it which made me feel shattered I have always been proud of my fitness and now even walking was hard because of the pain in my back and neck. To top things off I was feeling the pressure with my work building up following the death of a family member and also being abused on the train for asking someone if they wouldn’t mind giving up their seat for a very frail elderly passenger I began to think what has this world come to, do I want to be a part of this?? I was studying business at the time which I had to quit another failure effort at becoming someone. Back at work I had been feeling wheezy for about a week and it was a very hot day the air con wasn’t working in my office and I just couldn’t seem to take a breath so I stepped outside when everything started spinning I went into full blown panic hyperventilated and freaked everyone I worked without (I was humiliated).
I took a couple of days off work and when I returned my boss called me for a meeting and he had heard what happen what he said to me next I will never forget for the rest of my life, DON’T LET IT HAPPEN AGAIN. How do you not let something like this happen again was he serious. I attempted several times to return to work however it was just too hard my sensory system was so heightened and I was jumping out of my skin every few seconds.
Since then life has been a whirlpool of ups and downs, I’ve made progress and I have had setbacks but more ups then down. I spend most of my days inside my home where I am fully functional. So I guess you’re thinking how do you break free from this disorder?? The short answer time, patience, courage and determination
A day in the life of Agoraphobia for me at this time consists of routine – eating food which sometimes isn’t always healthy but I am working on this because eliminating triggers from your day like caffeine has shown me some relief. Exercise my biggest weapon from panic and anxiety I get 30mins to an hour everyday this has been a huge challenge for me and I literally started doing 3mins a day after my accident I now can do some light weights along with cardio. I stopped driving and going out in public alone for fear of another attack, but recently I have started short drives to the end of my road and home again which is huge progress, the first time I did this I was sweating and shaking so much I didn’t think I would make it to the end of driveway let alone the end of the street. Sleep our bodies need it to heal and for the first 12 months after my anxiety attack I did a lot of it. Every evening I write down three achievements that I have made, these could be as simple as I got out of bed today I made breakfast.
Here are a few things I do that might help you:
• I decided I wouldn’t sleep in anymore except weekends; this has made it so much easier to fall asleep at night.
• Recovering from any anxiety disorder is a long hard road, persist if you didn’t make it outside today there is always tomorrow consistency really is the key and even if you didn’t make it at least you TRIED so you’re still WINNING.
• Reading, writing, listening to music, crafting these are all great activities to do at home that help calm the mind and soul.
• When I do go out with other people it’s in small groups and usually to backyard BBQ’s, picnics, fishing and the beach, these are all great things that friends can encourage not force you to do that will greatly help remember the anxiety will pass I usually find the first hour is the worst like I want to run away waving my arms in the air screaming, it’s the storm before the calm J
• Respect yourself its ok to say NO – if you’re a friend or a family member don’t think by no this means don’t ask again another day it just means no at this time and its ok.
If you want to know more about my story with anxiety or if you are a friend or family member of someone suffering from an anxiety disorder I will be launching my Blog in July called Mollify, follow me on twitter @Narene81 to keep updated. In the meantime stay positive and strong together we can change the face of mental illness xxx #betheone

Many thanks to the extraordinary Narene. My sincere thanks.

Aidan

AOC

7.4 Positive Affirmations

2.3In order to end the stigma on Mental Health, positive affirmation and positive ethos and positive reflection are essential. I am going to talk about myself in this post, but please do the same for yourself as this is not a form of self indulgence, rather it is form of self growth, self healing and therapy.

This post is in advance of two guest posts from some individuals who contacted me the same. I think you’ll like the Guest Posters. Some details on Twitter.

Positive Reflections

I have a 16 year successful career with multiple promotions. In this career, I have not had a single day of any form of Sick Leave.

I held a very difficult challenging position for a decade that was hugely responsible, hugely challenging and hugely professional reporting to extremely senior personnel.

i have multiple qualifications, having achieved First Class Honours in each instance.

I overcame the suicide of my fiancé on 08.08.08. I carried her coffin and visit the grave every 3months without fail.

I survived a lot of significant bullying as a youngster, but I am stronger for it.

I made a decision to give up alcohol in 2010, as  I saw that it wasn’t a healthy choice in my life.

I have been running a very successful website and associated Social Media platforms.I have 53 posts in 98 days, 5,300 plus posts with 1300 followers.

i recognise my strength and weaknesses,,

I am kind and compassionate.

i believe in self discipline and resilience.

I am personable and sociable.

Whilst being personable and sociable. I will not be a “YES” man and explain professionally and personally my opinion and stance politely, but firmly

I have learnt that I can more clear in non verbal communication and learnt that less is more sometimes in email text, for example.

I terminated the last relationship with a girl I was in as it was a little toxic and I knew it wouldn’t change and I deserved better. I will only enter another a relationship if there’s a crossover of traits and kindness.

I have identified issues with my dad and I am working through these. I know verbal and physical abuse are entirely unacceptable. I realise that I must be careful not to allow this to become a generational carry through. I will forge a new relationship based on my self learning and an understanding of where they came from, their age and our expected time together. I will forgive what needs to be forgiven, but walk away from any intolerant or negativity based situations

I have a stronger understanding of physical health having lost 2st in 2 months and began MMA training at a beginners level

I have started to learn to silently meditate

I am learning positive psychology continuously

I plan to continue to learn with my study of Communications.

I plan to address weaknesses such as creativity and sensitivity and my listening on occasion

I will respect my strengths such as my hard work mentality, my survival instincts and my sense of humour

I will look after Mental and Physical as today is World Health Day 2016.image

Aidan

AOC

 

 

 

 

 

6.4 Fibro and me

HI folks,

So very recently, I decided to do something about a nagging problem, a nagging problem since around December 2000!    Pain..

There is an old phrase I use -“you can get used to anything except hanging”I have had physical pains around the neck and shoulders for approx 16 years. I worked with it through from the year 2000-2016 occasionally dipping into a little massage therapy or some physiotherapy. I held a very stressful very diverse and very challenging and very rewarding position in a worplace for about ten years moving on.  It was typical to do a 12 hour day for those 10 years with only a couple of holidays abroad each year and lunch never before 3PM!

What am I getting at? What am I trying to “End the Stigma” today? Fibromyalgia is the answer. Now I wrote about this in general in early January, so I’ll keep this quite short as its a work in progress, but I was with one of the top private Consultant pain specialists who looks after this and Oncology pain and received the diagnosis per se.

A quick aside  – The Irish HealthCare system is most complex, with the Public healthcare system, you can wait 6-12-24  months to see an Orthopaedic specialist or surgeon, but privately for a Consultant Pain specialist in a south county Dublin Private hospital, I faxed a recent letter to this gentleman from home and an appointment was offered the next working day. As of now, I have Medicated plasters and am taking a pain medication already. Both are giving some relief. I am shortly starting Hydrotherapy, receiving some injections for relief and have had some of the required scans (the day after the appointment!)This was expensive, but I am financially secure. It’s something I must write about another day.

So what is Fibromyalgia- it’s essentially a widespread pain that can radiate around the body and can certainly affect the neck and shoulder or arms (which is where I am experiencing it) Some patients get fatigue or dizziness (I am fortunate not to) Some patients get a “fog” where they feel their brain has been a little “muddled”

Fibro is assessed and examined by scans and diagnostic imagery, but there are also a series of “tender points”.These are points on the body that when pressed hurt

Typically Fibro follows a viral infection or an accident, but can also develop from unknown origin. There’s a lot I know about this as I knew already and resisted a Consultamt Pain Specialist appointment, but it got to the stage where I went to the appointment and through trigger or tender points , a  6o minute chat and the diagnostic imagery my condition was identified and confirmed. As I say it’s best described as Fibroacckrding to my specailist,but as arthritis runs heavily in my family, so we will do some more scans too.

Today though I want to address that this condition and how it manifests(typically in women, actually).It is not a psychosomatic matter often (it can be, it isn’t for me, it isn’t for a the majorityof patients) It’s not made up to feign time off work (in16 years working, I haven’t had a single day of Sick leave period) It is not imagined(for if it were – why are scans showing up issues on my right shoulder) It isn’t used by people after car accidents for malingering. It isn’t for mums with new born babies to spend more time at home after difficult preganancies.

Its very important we End this stigma on Fibro as my specialist himself (0bviously aware of what’s online or misconceived) dismissed the stigma and said it’s an entirely real painful condition that is treatable and manageable (nowadays), but yes we cannot write scholarly on origin right now.

I am going to keep this short today as I just want to add my voice to the disagreement and misconceotion that this doesn’t exist or hurt or is for malingering purposes.

I am”coming out”to help end the stigma on Fibromyalgia and will write more extensively on this going forward.

Aidan

AOCprecision-nutrition-pain-FMS

 

 

 

 

Bipolar Disorder Guest Blogger Kevin A Hall

We have had some great guest blog posters on.

Today I welcome a most well known gentleman, Mr Kevin A Hall. Kevin is a World Champion Olympic sailor  who has defeated Testicular Cancer twice and  is a sailing champion and has Bipolar Disorder.

Kevin has recently released his book “Black Sails  White Rabbits” Kevin talks about the Highs and lows of Bipolar in his book (available on Amazon now) and candidly admits “Cancer was the easier part” he says.

I asked Kevin would he be good enough to write 800 or so words on Bipolar Disoder

Kevin provides a detailed vivid account. What an incredible piece of writing. Sincere thanks to Kevin who lives in New Zeland with his wife and kids now

 

 

My wife and children live with my Bipolar disorder. I live with the label, and the condition, and the stigma. Mostly, I live with my Selves.
None of us has it easy. “I wonder what Daddy will be like today?” is a thought they all have: our eleven year old boy Rainer, or his nine year brother Leo, or their eight year old sister Stevie, and especially the beautiful, compassionate Amanda who has known me since college. There’s no way for me to know exactly how often, but it’s surely a recurring thought for them. Maybe even eight days a week .
I try to imagine all the ways it sucks for them. (I’m clear on most of the ways it’s not a picnic for me, but every once in a while even “i” get surprised: for example, the regret of it not being easier —like it was yesterday —is its own challenge.)
Let’s see:

“There are the mornings I am in the kitchen while we’re making school lunches, but I am not present because I am so sad. I ask what I can do to help, knowing that what would actually be helpful is if I could figure it out myself. HATING that just asking took all I had”

“There are the evenings when I am there in the room reading to the kids before bed, but I am not all there because I have three trains of thought in my head. I imagine it to be Herculean that I keep one of them on the kids. I tell the kids I’m sorry when I can’t answer one of their questions; I was only shunting the words through my mind to my mouth. I know that they must think that I wish I were anywhere but with them; they are probably right. They can’t possibly know that the reason I wish I were anywhere else is it KILLS me to let them down.
There are the times I visit my parents, and they have to guess which me has arrived on the doorstep. Silent and sullen Kevin, chatty and optimistic and expansive one, or the robot trying to play a role which his programming says is expected of him? I imagine the first is frustrating, the second is scary, and the third is painful in its clear dishonesty and evasiveness.
There are the weekends, when life should be a celebration. But, it takes every ounce of my squeezed soul to get out of bed. And, it shows”
There are the weeknights, when it is well past my bedtime and I can’t put my book down but I finally get in bed, toss and turn for a few hours, and get back up at 4:00 A.M.
There is the media: you’re not quite doing it right if you’re not Happy Most of the Time. Like I needed another layer of guilt.
There are the (alleged) reflections of me in the TV and movie characters who are “Bipolar”. I don’t feel like they represent my version of mental illness very well, and they certainly don’t help diminish many myths. Why do they all have to be either wide-eyed prophets, geniuses, psychopaths, or pessimists on the order of Marvin from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?
Someday, maybe the message in the ether will ring more true for me and my young family. More like this: you are doing it well if you are honest, and you continue to do your best to live with your angels and demons. You are doing it well if you always respect that it is hard for you, yourself, and you always remember that it is hard for them, your family and friends too.
Someday, maybe the feeling around me when I announce that I’m back in the hospital with a glitchy head will be more like #fuckmentalillness! Here’s a wise-color bracelet with an empathetic slogan for your wrist. Here’s a cheering section. Here, look at the paper today: Washington (Ottawa, Canberra…) is all over it.
Or—and I really would settle for this! —they could just stop saying “Why don’t you try harder?” Nobody ever said that to me when I got cancer the second time.
I want to hear that we are doing enough if we turn up, day after day, and carry the burden of life on earth with dignity”.

 

Ends

Powerful writing as World Bipolar day has passed, my thanks to the famous talented humble warrior, Mr Kevin A Hall.

Aidan

AOC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1.4 Review of quarter 1

Hi,

So this is a quick thank you post, I started off tentatively on January 1 and dipped my toe in the water.

I looked at all these platforms like WordPress, Twitter, FaceBook, Google+, Instagram etc and thought wow., I need to up skill.

I look back on WordPress and I see we have hit 50 posts. I’ve had celebs like Rachel Griffin and Sarah Fader come on board and let me interview them. I have other guest posters all about Complex PTSD and Obama Healthcare and the US Mental Health care system. I have spoken honestly regarding my own situation and we have dealt with the difficult subject of rape from a very brave young lady. We have talked about Aspergers and I have mentioned becoming a See Change Ambassador and becoming trained in Mental Health First Aid, I’m proud here.I have marked your diary for Apr 22 and a big change to the website, a really big change. The numbers reading here are great. I look at the stats daily and I can see the peaks. I have started to follow other blogs and if you follow me, I’ll certainly follow back.

I also regularly mention #imnotashamed and #sicknotweak hashtags

I look back on Twitter as massive success. 4,500 tweets on Mental Health and ending the stigma in three months, 1100 followers. I am delighted to have touched the thousand and surpass it. I have made some great friends on Twitter and plenty of private mail is swapped, I have also followed and tweet regularly with well known doctors, specialists, organisations, addiction experts, media figures, authors etc, I spend a lot of time on Twitter and I love the 140 characters you have to express yourself

I am also enjoying LinkedIn where I have started to upload videos on Mental Health matters, the psyche and physical matters such as chronic pain. I have had great return again from medics and friends. I am getting a very large number of endorsements, over 1,000 endorsements, so kind of you. I am also in the race for top connections in Ireland with 22,903 connections.

I am slowly getting used to the Instagram, 200 pictures or images posted, but that will rise sharply and we will hit  the 1,000

For FaceBook, there is a change to the primary account and I will thank you for your understanding there. All my posts go to the page (as opposed to the account), but thank you for nearly 500 likes.on the FB page As I say expect some changes on the Facebook.

There are of course other platforms too and I’ll be starting the Podcasting soon and you’ll hear me discuss certain topics

I also have some more plans but this project is for 4.5 years (plan)so thank you for the first three months and understanding on teething problems. New site 22.4 and a big announcement coming soon, fingers crossed

Big blog entry coming soon too, personal

Aidan

Aoc

 

 

 

 

 

29.3OCPD and me

OCPD!!!

I mentioned before in a previous blog entry that I had seen all manner of specialists over recent years “as something was up”and had a different diagnosis from each one! More recently as I completed various Psychology studies, I began to realise there was a possibility I didn’t have anything wrong other than being a bit of a perfectionist which slides somewhat into OCPD. It’s very important to say this is not OCD. Like any form of MHealth matters, there can be an overlap, but I don’t have Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, I now know I have Obsessive Compulsive Personality Disorder. It took a long time to get here and, of course, pls don’t judge me. Steve Jobs apparently had this!!

So what is it?

Its also known as Anankastic Personality Disorder. It’s a matter of symmetry, perfectionism , excessive attention to detail, control mentally and interpersonally, excessive conscientiousness, refusal to delegate sometimes, damn hard work.

The very interesting thing is 2-8 percent of us have it and that’s anywhere from 1 in 12 to 1 in 50. Rather reassuring too.

Its actually rather one of the better disorders to have without sounding crass. It’s certainly kept me very intuitive and driven and has me working towards a third degree

Goimg back to the OCD issue. OCD often interferes with someone’s life. OCPD is more a strive towards high targets or in some case, caution by way of behaviour.

There is an interesting link between OCPD and obsessive hoarding which is far more common than you think, I personally would have no issue with hoarding.

There can be a common link between OCPD and Eating Disorders. There is a lot of literature on this for another day. I don’t have an eating disorder. That said I do like a good medium to well done steak!

Going further. There is a link between OCPD and lower mood, possible predisposition to co-morbidity with the Depression. Again I would be an optimist by nature, in good form, “glass half full even if there’s only a drop”!! so I don’t have an issue here

There is a link between OCPD and difficulty in relationships when say the other partner may have a very messy existence, being very casual, be very different in attitude and perception. I can see a little of this in me, it can go as far as violence. Needless to say, I have never nor will I ever raise my hand in a relationship, gosh. Interpersonal relationship skills for friendship have to be worked on and you do this continuously. One had to be mindful of overly long non verbal communication.

There is an aspect of OCPD which is all in relation to perfectionism and preoccupation and I certainly had that. Thankfully more so on the last point,it has helped in academia, tough jobs and assignments and examinations and now a new life that is going very well with a busy diary!

OCPD is known as ego-syntonic and that’s all in respect of behaviours and values. I would hold certain behaviours and values strongly and have a high moral code.

There is an interesting link with Aspergers and as a child I was assessed  vigorously got this and there was (it seems) a misunderstanding that I had HFA – High Functioning Aspergers as I had an exceptional ability with Mathematics and was struggling a little with manual dexterity. The latter resolved whereas the former didn’t!!

What’s the cause? Well that’s a tricky one. As with Psychiatry matters, we have this whole discussion of bio or environmental cause and as this is a fairly brief post, I’ll say I lean towards the latter, a strict upbringing and environment can push you down the OCPD road.

I have made some good progress as without sounding arrogant, I clocked this before the professionals.

Solutions- Well it’s not a case for a ” pill for every ill” There isn’t medication and that’s a positive. General self help and psychotherapy are recommended. As I am so much in the Mental Health field, recently a speaker now (!) and an advocate, I get a chance to have a coffee with friends who are psychotherapists, so I am learning alongside a good coffee and conversation. I would see no stigma with Psychotherapy though.

Do you know what…,, OCPD is not the worst in the world. It does often take multiple years to be diagnosed, but all the best to anyone who has this too, focus on your core strengths and work if necessary through psychotherapy if you need it

I hope by putting myself out here in open, I encourage others to do so too.

http://www.psychforums.com/obsessive-compulsive-personality/topic57651.html

Have a look at the above, See are you tethering on a 70!

http://psymed.info/obsessive_compulsive_personality_disorder_test

Try the following,above perhaps. it will only take 10 minutes, but will give great insight.

Thanks for reading and thanks to my Twitter community, I reached the coveted 1,000 followers, sincerely grateful. Also this is blog entry 50, thanks for your support since Jan1. I have shown some drive, plenty of friends have shown commitment and loyalty reading my musings and watching my videos! I am a happy bunny post Easter! image

Aidan

AOC