Wednesday, 19 September 2018

Follow Your Passion: A Merry Meeting

I bumped into an old friend and former colleague this morning as I was having coffee at Regular Jo’s at Tynemouth Market. The last time I saw Paul was in similar circumstances. He saw me one Sunday afternoon as I was sitting outside Starbucks near where I live. That was maybe eighteen months ago. I know our book High Tide, Low Tide was out, so it must have been after September 2016.

It was great to see him again today and we had a good catch up, sharing what each of us is doing these days, and checking in on folk we know or knew.

Paul left to follow his dream of working for himself at something he loves, and it is clear it’s worked out well for him. That was great to see!

On paper at least I’m doing much the same work as I was doing the last time we met. (As a matter of fact I have been doing much the same work since Paul left, which might be ten years ago now.) But I am not the same person I was then, and I can honestly say I am much happier since I started help shape the mental health initiatives we have going on within the company.

At the moment this is only a minor aspect of my role – I remain primarily engaged in the “techie stuff” of applications support – but the mental health side has transformed how I feel about “going to work” each day. It is something I am passionate about and want to develop further, with the ongoing support of colleagues and management. I think that came across to Paul as we were talking. It’s hard to hide the light inside when it burns so brightly, as Paul’s did when talking about his work and life.

So, it was a merry meeting: each of us “living the dream” and looking ahead in hope to wherever our respective journeys might take us next.

Not a bad way to spend a Saturday morning!

 

Wednesday, 12 September 2018

Letters to Daniel

By Amy Leigh McCorkle

Dear Daniel Craig. This journey to wellness started long before that. But this leg of the journey started with a blog I used to tell my story and share an everyday look at what life with bipolar disorder looks like. So, Dear Daniel Craig was a confessional for me. I let it all hang out. The good, the bad, and the downright ugly.

I should note here I have not met Daniel Craig. And that, as far as I know, he has no idea I even exist. Still, the simple act of using my favorite actor as silent audience seemed to be final piece in a multi-pronged treatment plan. There was medication, group and individual therapy (still is), and the support of amazing caregivers. This blog, Letters to Daniel, soon took on a life of its own, and it made me actively advocate.

People responded in a big way. They reached out to me saying I was telling their story. Or that I was telling their loved one’s story. It didn’t stop there. I gathered the letters up and turned it into a bestselling memoir of the same name. On Amazon it hit number #2 in the USA., #3 in Japan, #4 in Canada, #6 in Australia and #21 in the UK; and the top 100 in the Netherlands and Germany. I then took the “greatest hits” and narrated the letters in a documentary of the same name. It went on to win awards on the festival circuit.

Then with my caregiver and writing partner I adapted the memoir to an award winning screenplay. We now have a producer in Cincinnati, Aaron Allen of Extreme Christian Entertainment, signed on. He is running a GoFundMe for the pre-production costs. My caregiver Melissa Goodman and I are set to direct.

The exciting thing is I attended Action On Film International Film Festival and there are two A-List Producers who are interested in Letters to Daniel.

Letters to Daniel tells the story of my journey to being in recovery from breakdown to my success as an artist. It is told through the prism of my friendship and writing partnership with my caregiver. It cannot be overstated how important Missy was and still is to my recovery. There have been other caregivers, but she was on the front lines every day for the twelve years we shared an apartment as friends. She didn’t run. She didn’t hide. She chose to be my friend in the darkest of days and when I’m symptomatic now she’s still my best friend and knows what to do.

This film has been a five year dream. To be on verge of making it is thrilling. To be on verge of it possibly going mainstream has been weird but really exciting. Right now we need the pre-production costs covered. That shows the big time producers we’re not just play acting.

I remember one night watching the Soap Opera Digest Awards. Accepting his award, Maurice Benard said to all manic depressives out there if I can do it so can you. I really to needed to hear that. My dreams seemed to be lost. But here we are. Eighty-six awards and several scripts and films later Missy and I are on the verge of something big, and I would have never gotten there without her.

About the Author

Amy Leigh McCorkle is a bestselling and award winning author, blogger, screenwriter and filmmaker. With 23 published titles, two successful blogs, and a myriad of scripts she has also directed the stigma busting Letters to Daniel: Breakdown to Bestseller and All In the Family. She makes her home with her parents and her four year old tabby Luke. In her free time Amy likes to follow the University of Kentucky Wildcats.

Support Amy’s project at her GoFundMe page.

You can follow Amy on her blog, on Facebook (personal page | Letters to Daniel), on Twitter (@amylmccorkle), and on Instagram.

 

Tuesday, 4 September 2018

Let’s Talk about Talking: Three Conversation Types for a Mutually Caring Relationship

I am grateful to Vikki Beat for our recent conversation at Caffe Nero which led to me writing this up.

It’s no secret that Fran and I spend a lot of time talking together but it took a while for me to recognise that not all conversations are the same. Different people have different ways of talking, of course, but aside from that there are distinct types of conversation depending on what the people involved need at the time. Here are three distinct types we have found useful. I’d love to know if they resonate for you – or if they don’t! Let’s talk!

“My Turn, Your Turn.”

This is the type of conversation that comes most naturally to me, whether face-to-face (in person or on a video call), on the telephone, or in online chat. It consists of short alternating exchanges, one person speaking for a moment or two then letting the other take a turn. It works well (at least for me) where you are “shooting the breeze”, making plans, or sharing things on a fairly surface-y level. What I had to learn is there are situations where it isn’t necessarily appropriate or helpful.

“It Will Be Your Turn in a Minute.”

The “my turn, your turn” approach doesn’t work for Fran if she is trying to share something detailed or important. From her point of view, my wanting to speak every minute or so means I am constantly interrupting her train of thought. Once interrupted, she finds it next to impossible to pick up again.

This was especially so early in our friendship when Fran was in mania. It was hard enough for her to slow her thoughts to a pace and into an order where she could share them with someone else. She needed me to let her speak for a while without interrupting. Then I could take my turn, whether to comment on what she had shared, ask a question, or take things in a new direction.

This felt very unnatural to me at first – and I still find it hard sometimes – but I’ve learned that slowing things down like this (essentially conversing in short monologues rather than exchanging sentences) can be incredibly valuable whether you have difficulties marshalling your thoughts or not.

“I Need to Talk Right Now.”

There are times when we want and need to just let the words flow, to “dump” (although I hate that expression), to express whatever it is we are feeling or thinking without being interrupted, questioned, or judged. It is what Thich Nhat Hahn has called deep listening:

Deep listening simply means listening with compassion. Even if the other person is full of wrong perceptions, discrimination, blaming, judging, and criticizing, you are still capable of sitting quietly and listening, without interrupting, without reacting. Because you know that if you can listen like that, the other person will feel enormous relief. You remember that you are listening with only one purpose in mind: to give the other person a chance to express themselves, because up until now no one has taken the time to listen. (Thich Nhat Hanh)

This is important work and carries a degree of responsibility. As the listener you may feel any number of things: pain, hurt, joy, pride, love, anger. You might yearn to interrupt with advice and suggestions. It’s okay. You get to feel it all – and you get to keep it to yourself. Your input, suggestions, and opinion may be welcome later but right now your role is to be wholly present, to STFU, and to listen. It is NOT easy. At least, I do not always find it so. Persevere. It is perhaps the greatest gift you can offer another human being.

Vikki and I joked how maybe we ought to make some flags we can hold up to let the other one know what type of conversation we want or need. That might be taking things a little too far (though it would be fun!) but it is important in any relationship that both people can express what they need in the moment. As far as conversation types go this can be as simple as holding up your hand to indicate you’ve not finished talking yet, or saying “I need you to listen right now while I get all this out, okay?” Our ability to do this – and to accept that we still sometimes get it wrong – is why Fran and I work so well.

When two people are open and honest with each other and come together to share words, space, and time, it can be a truly beautiful thing.

Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing
and rightdoing there is a field.
I’ll meet you there.

~ Rumi

 

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Mental vs Physical Illness: Stigma and Disability

By Roiben

I know a lot of people who struggle to see Mental Illness as a disability. Some of this is due to years of Stigma, perpetuated by a media and government which all too easily labels people as scroungers. We are accused of not trying hard enough, of just needing to pull our socks up and get on with it, and in doing so to, somehow, magically get better.

In my opinion Mental Illness is more often than not a Chronic Condition and very much fits the criteria of a disability. By way of an example, I have Type 1 Diabetes, which I manage with medication and changes to, and monitoring of, my diet and wellbeing. I have times when it is well controlled and pretty much routine day-to-day. I have other times when it is less controlled and I need to seek the advice of medical professions and maybe even go into hospital. I have been diabetic since I was four years old and it isn’t going to go away anytime soon.

I was first diagnosed with a Mental Illness when I was twelve years old. I have had times when I have been well, when my symptoms have been controlled with medications. I have had other times when I have been in crisis and needed medical intervention, changes to medication and therapy.

In my view, my Mental Illness does not go away in those periods when I am well. I am not cured. Instead, it is managed and controlled and therefore less problematic.

It astounds me that there is Stigma around the idea that people with Mental Illness can just choose to be well. It is rare for someone with diabetes or a sprained wrist to be told to think themselves better, so why do we do it with Mental Illness? Why does it have to have a time-scale before the person is clearly not putting the effort in to get better?

I would not choose to have the sometimes horribly disabling symptoms of my Mental Illness any more than I would choose to go into Diabetic Ketoacidosis (DKA). In either case I opt for medications, simply because that very medication is lifesaving.

We as a society need to realize that the mind, as complex and confusing as it can be, is a part of the body and has physical and psychological manifestations just like any other part of the body. The fact that my pancreas fails to produce insulin should not be any more believable or important than the fact that I have a Mental Illness.

Why do people have to be in absolute crisis with their Mental Illness before they are taken seriously and believed? Why is the emphasis placed on people actively acting on suicidal urges. Surely there should be recognition and a pathway for treatment long before someone attempts to act on them?

Surely there should be a prevention rather than cure model, like there often is for physical ailments? Shouldn’t we be doing more to view Mental Illness as an illness of a part of the body, as we do with Diabetes and Asthma? Both are chronic conditions that, despite facing their own Stigma, get much better treatment by medical professionals than someone who presents with a Mental Illness related issue. They also get much better treatment by the media, by the government and by society as a whole. Yes, Stigmas are still present, but people are much more rarely told to “just get over it” when they are hypoglycemic or having an asthma attack.

Mental Illness is a disability, and a very complex one at that. It requires far more understanding of nuances and individuality than illness with other parts of the body may require. The situation is the same, though. A part of the body is malfunctioning and may always malfunction going forwards. It requires appropriate treatment, attitudes and support. Without those treatments, healthy attitudes and support, the malfunction will get worse not better. Ultimately the person may stop attempting to get the help they need and very much deserve.

 

About the Author

You can find Roiben on Twitter (@roiben).

 

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Twenty-Plus Years of Misdiagnosis and Incorrect Treatment

By Chris Good

Originally posted on the author’s blog.

I have a story to share. It is My Story. My goal is to provide comfort, hope and inspiration to others who may connect with what I have written. As I have a lot to share I have split My Story into three separate posts.

Chapter One: Twenty-Plus Years of Misdiagnosis and Incorrect Treatment (this post)

Chapter Two: A Life Changing Diagnosis at Age Forty

Chapter Three: Hope and Inspiration

The obvious place to start my new blog is to share my own experience of mental illness, the time span of which is my entire adult life (which at the current age of forty is in excess of twenty years), as well as all of my late teens. I also suspect that I would have suffered to some extent in my more formative years, undiagnosed.

I have thought long and hard about the length of Chapter One. Whilst I know it’s long, I do believe everything written is important and relevant. If you connect or identify with even a single part of it, I’ll be delighted. I then hope you might choose to follow me on my blogging journey, witnessing hope and fulfillment in the face of adversity.

A significant portion of the detail below was obtained in a letter I requested late in 2017 from the mental health service who had dealt with me on and off from a young age up to the age of thirty-nine, at which point I relocated. The letter was addressed to the mental health service in my new home town asking them to take on care of me and providing them with a comprehensive history. It came as a huge surprise to me that this three page letter would prove to be almost worthless in the hands of the new service.

Another thing I find remarkable is that when I received this letter in 2017 it was the first time that I had ever received anything in writing describing what my diagnosis was at various stages of my life. This in stark contrast to the physical health conditions I have experienced, for which I have a file full of letters containing diagnosis and treatment plans, without me ever having to request them. Based on my experience, such transparency just doesn’t seem to exist in the world of mental health, and I can’t understand why. Maybe in different parts of the world it’s different?

On many occasions over the past twenty years, I have been in utter despair at the lack of a clear diagnosis. The most common explanation I got from the psychiatrists I saw was that I had a combination of depression (severe, chronic, recurring, treatment resistant…) and anxiety. But no one seemed able to explain why I kept experiencing the two together with apparently equal weighting. Depression slows down the mind and the body, anxiety does the opposite. How can the two exist hand in hand? This made it extremely difficult for those around me to understand what was wrong with me – family, friends, employers, colleagues etc. When the professionals didn’t seem able to explain it, how could any normal person be expected to understand it? This weighed very heavily on me over the years and was utterly exasperating.

My History

By detailing my history, I am aiming to set the context for future posts. I promise that my story will eventually turn into one of positivity.

  • Summary: I decided to put the summary given to me by the mental health service in November 2017 at the start, to set the scene. “He has a long history of recurrent depressive disorder. He has required long term maintenance therapy with a combination of mood stabilizer (take note of the relevance of this for my next post!) and antidepressant. It is likely he will be vulnerable to relapse at times of stress and transition.” (Helpfully, by the time I saw this for the first time, we had just made a massive one!)
  • June 1994 (age 16): My introduction to the local mental health service (National Health Service). Little did I know back then how long the relationship would last or how frequent our dealings would be at times. My diagnosis was a severe depressive episode with psychotic symptoms. It is worth highlighting that I was initially prescribed antidepressant medication aged sixteen by my family GP without my parents being aware of it – this happened shortly before my referral to the Young People’s Department of the local mental health service. My memory is very patchy, but I remember being at home with my sister, me cleaning stains in the house in an obsessive, compulsive manner and washing my hands with boiling hot water, then seeing the GP who started me on the tablets and shortly afterwards experiencing horrible side effects. I continued to be troubled with symptoms of depression and anxiety on and off over the next few years.
  • September 1999 (age 21): My case with the Young People’s Department was closed.
  • March 2004 (age 26): No longer a youngster, I was referred to the Adult Mental Health Service, troubled with depression, anxiety, obsessional preoccupations, social phobia and low self-esteem. By this point I had qualified as a Chartered Accountant.
  • May 2005 (age 27): This month signified a really dark spell in my life, one which I will most definitely never forget. Following a significant deterioration in my condition, I was admitted to hospital between 3rd and 23rd May 2005. I was admitted because I was having active suicidal thoughts. Because of this I was placed under constant observation for the first three days of my stay. At the time I described myself as being tortured by my thoughts. My discharge diagnosis was major depressive illness without psychotic features.
  • The whole experience of being in hospital was utterly soul destroying. To this day I can’t drive past the hospital (the ward I stayed in is visible from the main road) without vivid flash backs. Whilst I have never experienced being in prison, I often wonder if it could be any worse than a stay in a mental health hospital. Whilst the environment serves a purpose in keeping people safe when in crisis, I struggle to think of a place less conducive to recovery. That’s my experience anyway.
  • Thankfully, following a lot of persuading and convincing my parents got the doctors to agree to release me on the promise that they would care for me. I cannot fathom the thought of having to stay a minute longer than I did in that hellish place. Meal times in the hospital were awful, sitting at a table with other very unwell people, no one talking. As was the daily ritual of queuing to take medication. Completely undignified.
  • On discharge I began attendance at a day hospital. My condition deteriorated and I continued to be troubled by depressive symptoms.
  • September 2005 (age 27): As a result of my deterioration post discharge I started receiving a course of Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), receiving a total of eight treatments. I responded well to this and I think it was a real turning point in my recovery from the major depressive episode I had just experienced.
  • ECT is a procedure done under general anesthesia in which small electric currents are passed through the brain, intentionally triggering a brief seizure. ECT seems to cause changes in brain chemistry that can quickly reverse symptoms of certain mental illnesses.
  • April 2007 (age 29) – brighter days and a fresh start in a big new city: My case was closed by my local mental health service following maintained progress and because I had decided to make the move to a much bigger city (London) for a fresh start and to take up a new job. When I moved to London I felt like a different person with a new lease of life. I thrived on the anonymity of being in a huge city where I knew nobody and the people I did get to know knew nothing of my difficult past. I felt like people treated me at face value, in contrast to my home city where I routinely felt like I was being judged because of my history of mental illness. I had a new found confidence and shortly after moving met my now wife. For the vast majority of the near three years I spent in London, life felt great and I truly believed that the dark days of ECT, hospitalisation etc were behind me forever. Sadly, I was to be proved wrong.
  • Shortly after getting married, my wife and I left London and returned to my home city because we considered it a better and more affordable place to start a family when the time was right. We had our first child in February of 2011.
  • April 2014 (age 36): Referred back to Adult Mental Health Services complaining of anxiety and stress at work.
  • December 2015 (age 37): By this point my wife and I now had two beautiful children. I contacted the mental health team as a result of a worsening of anxiety symptoms. Shortly after, in March 2016, I was made redundant from my job. I found a new one quickly but left it after only a couple of weeks as I was unable to cope due to my worsening anxiety levels. This marked the start of a serious downward spiral which would result in many extremely challenging times over the next two and a bit years. This included being out of work for a full year. I felt in such despair and I remember bursting into tears in my kitchen one afternoon and in a conversation with my Dad telling him how I wished there was an option of euthanasia for those suffering from serious mental illness – I saw it as an end to all the suffering but with the consent and even blessing of family members. I think I saw it as a more palatable option to suicide. I guess that shows how unwell my mind was at the time. In the early days of not working I wasn’t able to do a great deal, but as I slowly started to feel better my wife returned to full time work in retail (obviously we needed an income, albeit significantly lower than the one we had when I was working) and I took on the role as chief childcarer. I quickly learnt that this role was every bit as challenging and tiring as being in the workplace.
  • March 2017 (age 39) – Another fresh start: With the passage of time thankfully I felt able to return to work. Given my positive experiences previously and my desire to experience anonymity again, in all my wisdom I decided that the only place I wanted to and felt able to work in was London. I had a good relationship with a recruitment agency there from the last time, so I felt confident I could pick something up. However, with circumstances rather different than they were when I made this move ten years earlier, this would also entail relocating as a family with my wife and our two young children, ages six and three. No doubt many saw this as madness given all we had just been through. But my wife and I were certain we wanted to give it a go as a way of getting our family life back on a positive trajectory.
  • December 2017 (age 39): Just a few months earlier all seemed to be going well, the new job in London and the family relocation successfully behind us. Three months after moving, I accepted a promoted post, albeit with trepidation. How I wish I had listened to my gut and what it was screaming out to me before I took on this more demanding job! Quite early on I knew I was out of my depth, but persevered with the support of my boss who I was completely open with. In December things really started to unravel and shortly thereafter I resigned in favour of a less challenging role elsewhere.
  • April 2018 (age 40): By April I was very unwell and had to leave my relatively new job. I was again experiencing an intolerable combination of anxiety and severe depression. Whilst they were not active, I was definitely having thoughts again that suicide may be the only means of finally ending this recurring suffering. I clearly remember walking through a park one day, tears in my eyes and feeling completely lost and hopeless. For a moment, I understood one hundred per cent why many people reach a point where they tragically decide that for them there is no alternative. Blessed with a loving and supportive wife and two wonderful sons, I was able to cling on to the thought of them to keep me hanging on.
  • Prior to things reaching this point, I tried really hard to seek intervention from my new local mental health team. I thought the comprehensive letter from the team in my old city (as mentioned above) would ensure that I would be seen promptly when necessary given my history. Not so. I was treated as someone who had contacted the service for the first time and with no previous history, joining the back of the queue. Eventually after pleading for help, I was assessed by a Community Psychiatric Nurse (CPN) working in the Urgent Care Team. I obviously wasn’t considered a priority, with them referring me to a team called the Specialist Therapies Team. The waiting list was undefined, but I heard from a reliable source that it could be up to two years, yes two years. I phoned frequently in the hope that they might see me but to no avail.
  • Things continued to get worse as the weeks passed. I was suffering from intolerable insomnia, often lying wide awake with my mind racing for the entire night. I was taking prescribed sleeping tablets, but most of the time they were of no help whatsoever. My anxiety and frustration at not sleeping became so unbearable that alarmingly, I regularly began to leave the house in the middle of the night and go either walking or cycling in the pitch dark, doped on sleeping pills. I simply had to get out of the house, with no regard for my personal safety. I even ended up in the local McDonalds one night wearing a jumper and my pyjama trousers. At the time it didn’t even register.
  • Things really came to a head one night when my wife woke up at 3 a.m. to find me in a very severe state of anxiety. She was so concerned about me that she got the kids in the car and drove me to the local emergency department. For my kids this must have been a very scary experience, being plucked from their slumber and witnessing their Dad like this. I hope never to make them experience this again. What followed that night really shocked us. After a short wait the triage nurse spoke to us, and given my mental state we couldn’t believe what we were hearing when she advised that the mental health team on duty would not see me. We were told that they only see people who they believe are actively planning to commit suicide imminently. We were sent packing and told to contact my GP in the morning.
  • I did go to the GP the next morning, a new one to me who I had seen once previously. She clearly had empathy, which my previous one didn’t have one iota of. The GP said that I was clearly at ‘Crisis Point’ and she sat in front of me dictating, in her own words, a begging letter to a local psychiatrist she had seen at a recent seminar. Coincidentally, he worked in the Urgent Care Team who a short while earlier had considered my case not serious enough to require prompt attention. Eventually I did get an appointment to see him, but by this point we had sought help elsewhere as I needed help urgently. With the help of family and a family friend, we looked into private care and eventually got the name of a private psychiatrist who came very highly recommended. Being introduced to this psychiatrist was to prove life changing, as will be explained in Chapter Two.
  • Here is a list of all of the medications I have been on at some point in my life in relation to mental illness – thirteen in total (excluding the two sleep specific ones): Clomipramine, Fluoxetine, Paroxetine, Citalopram, Olanzapine, Venlafaxine, Mirtazapine, Risperidone, Diazepam and my current daily mix of Lithium Carbonate, Lamotrigine, Quetiapine and occasionally Clonazepam (on an ad-hoc basic if required). Also zopiclone and zolpidem for chronic insomnia.
  • Alternatives therapies: In addition to all the medication over the years I have had considerable input in the form of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (both privately and through the National Health Service) and occupational therapy. Privately I have also tried many other things in desperation that they may help alleviate my suffering, including hypnotherapy and Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT) .
  • My other debilitating conditions: As if all of the above wasn’t enough of a challenge, I have also spent many years dealing with two physical illnesses, both very debilitating at times in their own right. The first is ulcerative colitis (a form of inflammatory bowel disease) which I was first diagnosed with eighteen years ago, the second chronic migraine which I was diagnosed with eleven years ago and currently receive botox treatment for.

If you made it this far, well done and thank you for reading. It means a huge amount to me.

I wanted to end on a very big positive note. Despite all of the pain and suffering detailed above, I’ve got through it. And to think that despite all the years of suffering, my wife and I were able to bring two beautiful sons into the world, and enjoy many joyous times together as a family over the past few years, is an absolute blessing and in many ways quite a miracle.

About the Author

Chris Good is primarily a husband and dad to two young boys. He also has considerable experience of a long term battle with mental illness, but is a novice when it comes to blogging. Rather than feeling resentful about the hand he was dealt and following the enlightening experience of a correct diagnosis at age forty, Chris is now intent on sharing his story to provide hope and inspiration to others suffering from prolonged mental health challenges that a fulfilling and rewarding life is still achievable. Chris believes that his experiences and years of struggle make him uniquely placed to help and empathise with those suffering from similar mental health conditions.

Chris’ first contact with a psychiatrist was at age sixteen and the diagnosis for the next twenty-odd years was a combination of treatment resistant depression and anxiety. In early 2018 Chris saw a highly experienced psychiatrist who completely reviewed his case and confirmed that he had been misdiagnosed and mistreated for many years. He has now been diagnosed with ultra-rapid cycling bipolar disorder. On receiving this diagnosis Chris conducted extensive research on the condition and so many things about his life and his struggles over the years finally made sense.

Chris qualified as a Chartered Accountant in 2002 whilst working with one of the “Big Four” accountancy firms. Other than his family, Chris’ main passion is cycling. He used to cycle competitively but now cycles for pleasure and fitness. Due to his long term struggles, Chris has found it extremely difficult to hold down a pressured career and to cycle consistently over the years. Chris has also suffered for many years with ulcerative colitis and chronic migraine which also make work and cycling difficult at times.

Whilst a correct diagnosis and being put on correct medication came as a huge relief to Chris and his family (and in many ways felt like reason to celebrate!) he realises that that the condition will require careful management, self-care and treatment for years to come.

Chris’ motivation to be the best person he can be is clearly his family. He feels that during their young lives to date, despite many special and enjoyable times together, his children have witnessed a dad who was just not fully alive. Now that he has been correctly diagnosed and is on the right medication, Chris is determined to change that.

You can find more about Chris and his work on his website, on Twitter (@chrisgood78), and on Instagram.

 

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Poem for Marty

By Sarah Fader

Everyone has their own darkness
Mine is outside of my skin at times
Creeping slowly around
the confines of my mouth
not allowing me to speak
only telling me to feel
what I don’t want to feel.

You see my dark and
also the light even when
it’s hard to find
even when
it’s invisible to everyone around me.

That is your power
That is your gift
You sit quietly
Listening
as she talks
she cries
she needs you
and you’re not afraid
in fact you embrace the raw feelings.

I’m relieved to know that there are people
like you in the world
Thank you for loving without question
and embracing us without fear.

Don’t change who you are
Ever
And
Keep listening
It matters.

 

Sarah Fader is the CEO and Founder of Stigma Fighters, a non-profit organization that encourages individuals with mental illness to share their personal stories. Like six million other Americans, Sarah lives with panic disorder. Through Stigma Fighters, she hopes to change the world, one mental health stigma at a time. You can find Sarah at www.sarahfader.com.