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Have you ever heard of Schizoaffective Disorder?
Unless you’re in the mental health field, or know someone who suffers from it, you likely haven’t. It is often mistaken for Bipolar Disorder, Depression, and/or Schizophrenia, because they share common symptoms. Yeah, can you imagine how difficult it must be to live with a combination of those things? It is its own affliction, and it can be extremely stressful and scary for the people living with it, like our guest blogger today, Vickii. She blogs over at A Shieldmaiden Life.
Schizoaffective Disorder, according to the DSM-V, is categorized by hallucinations and delusions, and extreme mood swings if you’re in the Bipolar category like Vickii. She’s writing today not only to raise awareness about her illness, but also to urge you to not let stigma get in the way of getting healthy.
Mental health stigma is goin’ down.
Uninspired is all about helping women in their twenties live their best lives, even though they’re driving themselves crazy trying to build for their future. Unfortunately, a big part of that is mental health discussion, because that wild drive for success often leads to a lack of self-care, and a ridiculous idea that asking for help ruins the illusion that you’re perfect.
That’s the stigma weaseling it’s way into your mind. None of us are perfect. None of us have it all together, and pretending that we do leads to depression, anxiety, or worse depending on your situation. Sometimes, our obsessive need to appear perfect can lead to not getting help for very serious things, like alcoholism or, hey, Schizoaffective Disorder for example.
I can only imagine that if Vickii had read a series like Mental Health Monday when she was going through her darkest times, she would have felt more comfortable getting help sooner! Because that’s why I started this thing. I could’ve written Mental Health Monday all by myself, but hope doesn’t come from me spewing stats from the DSM and my psych classes. Hope comes from reading stories from real people who have been through what YOU’RE going through, and have come out stronger.
And honestly, you don’t have to suffer from Schizoaffective Disorder to be able to relate to this article. Vickii’s story is so relatable because it’s aimed at anyone who had struggled with asking for help. She asserts that you can do this, you might just need a little guidance or push from someone else. So, without further ado, I’ll turn it over to her.
How to Come to Terms with Needing Help
“One of the hardest things about having a mental health issues is admitting that there is a problem in the first place and getting the help you need. Often, we go about pretending that we can do everything ourselves and that asking for someone to help you is weakness. It becomes a never-ending cycle of hating yourself for who you are. The stigma behind mental health says that it’s not okay to not be okay. This is wrong.
I first started seeing and hearing things about 6 years ago.
Whenever I spoke about it, people would look at me like I was crazy. I believed that I could actually see the atoms of things, and that I could see the future. See, writing it down, I realise how wrong I was, but when you suffer from hallucinations you truly believe they are real.
Soon, I started becoming reckless. My moods would swing like a roller coaster. There were the ups which made me want to buy everything, even when I’d end up with no money, and I’d become extremely driven to do what I wanted. Then there were the downs– the self-harming and suicidal thoughts.
It took a family intervention for me to admit I needed help. Seeing them worry made me snap out of it and think ‘I need to sort this out otherwise I won’t be here for much longer.” That was hard to admit.
The first time I saw my GP about my hallucinations and mood swings I was terrified. I thought that they wouldn’t believe me or would simply say I was doing it for attention. I was ashamed that I couldn’t fix myself. Yet my GP listened and instead of what I expected, she gave me a load of leaflets on different management techniques including helplines, and reassured me that I wasn’t alone. She then set in motion for me to get the help I required.
I was diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder…
…which is essentially Bipolar and psychosis (hallucinations). I was also found to have severe anxiety due to bullying I was experiencing in high school at the time. Over a 4-year period I ended up seeing a wide range of people from doctors to specialist psychiatrists under the mental health service for teenagers where I was given medication along with cognitive behaviour therapy to help manage my hallucinations and moods.
Getting that help saved my life.
I’m not saying that lightly. It honestly did save my life. Now I have my dream job, a fantastic partner and friends and I’m closer than ever to my family.
If you are struggling with your own mental health please know that it’s okay to admit you need help. Everyone requires a little push to get to where they want to be at times. First off, breathe. Write down everything you want to say to the GP or advisor and then seek comfort from a trusted friend or family member. Know that it’s okay not to be okay and that you matter to someone.
After taking the first step into getting help, it gets a little bit easier each time. Each small step is another step towards being happier, to being able to manage life.
If you feel like you have no one to talk to then please contact me or the following sites/numbers and know that it DOES get better.
Mental Health Resources
Mental health resources if you’ve been diagnosed with an anxiety condition.
Phone: 08444 775 774 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5.30pm)
Mental health resources people living with manic depression or bipolar disorder.
CALM is the Campaign Against Living Miserably, for men aged 15-35.
Mental health resources for sufferers of depression. Has a network of self-help groups.
Men’s Health Forum
24/7 stress support for men by text, chat and email.
Mental Health Foundation
Provides mental health resources and support for anyone with mental health problems or learning disabilities.
Promotes the views and needs of people with mental health problems.
Phone: 0300 123 3393 (Mon-Fri, 9am-6pm)
Mental health resources for sufferers of panic attacks and OCD. Offers a course to help overcome your phobia/OCD. Includes a helpline.
Phone: 0844 967 4848 (daily, 10am-10pm)
Mental health resources for people with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD). Includes information on treatment and online resources.
Phone: 0845 390 6232 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-5pm)
A charity run by people with OCD, for people with OCD. Includes facts, news and treatments.
Phone: 0845 120 3778 (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)
Young suicide prevention society.
Phone: HOPElineUK 0800 068 4141 (Mon-Fri,10am-5pm & 7-10pm. Weekends 2-5pm)
Rethink Mental Illness
Support and advice for people living with mental illness.
Phone: 0300 5000 927 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)
Confidential support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair.
Phone: 116 123 (free 24-hour helpline)
Charity offering support and carrying out research into mental illness.
Phone: 0845 767 8000 (daily, 6-11pm)
SANEmail email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Information on child and adolescent mental health. Services for parents and professionals.
Phone: Parents’ helpline 0808 802 5544 (Mon-Fri, 9.30am-4pm)
Phone: 0845 634 1414 (adults) or 0345 634 7650 (for under-25s)
Website: www.b-eat.co.uk ”