Many of you will have recently returned to school, college or University. Perhaps you’ve recently gone back to work after a nice holiday. It all suddenly feels like such a rush. We are expected to take in so much information all at once. We are told everything we need to know for the next year of our lives in half an hour. For anxiety sufferers this is one of the most difficult times of the year. It can be even more difficult for those of us embarking on new ventures such as beginning sixth form, college or University.
I was a Nightline volunteer for four years at university and I hope to volunteer again (academia has a way of sneaking into your blood and making you want to come back!). Since then (and during my time there) I've worked in mental health.
These past few years have been a blur. I am still within that blur now and the fog is thicker than ever. I don’t think I will ever make it through to the other end, but I am finding new ways to cope, I am slowly learning more about how to handle my illness.
Living with Body Dysmorphic Disorder in a body conscious world is never easy. Especially with the age of people captioning their selfies with things such as ‘omg I’m so ugly ewww!!1!’ while sufferers of the disorder can’t even bear to think about being in photographs. BDD has one of the highest mortality rates of any mental illness. Also known as ‘imagined ugliness disorder’ sufferers find themselves abnormally obsessed with areas of their body which they perceive to have flaws.
The Mental Health Foundation campaigns for the awareness of mental health issues that are prevalent in our society. For Mental Health Awareness Week they pick a specific theme to base their campaigning on. In the past they have highlighted such issues as loneliness, which can be as big a health risk as a life-long smoking habit. This year it falls on the 13th to the 19th of May and they have chosen to concentrate on physical activity and exercise and the impact on mental health and well-being.
In my last blog I wrote about the importance of talking about depression, and revisiting it a few months on has made me realise that it was written with the naivety, hopefulness and confidence of someone just starting out on their journey to battle depression. From that point, I felt the only way was up, and that’s quite an empowering feeling. Of course, things haven’t been quite as rosy and straightforward as I would have liked, and if anything it’s taught me one thing – talking about it really is easier said than done.
When I got an email from Nightline Association calling for blogs for the upcoming eating disorders awareness week from the 11th to the 15th of February, I jumped at the chance. As a female, a university student, a psychologist, with friends with former eating disorders;it's an area quite close to home for me. Whilst I'd say it's hard not to be aware of at least the term in our culture, it's a deeper understanding that we're lacking. The term is bandied around so much, but do we actually know what we're talking about?
For the past few years, my family has been obsessed with weight. We moved from Australia (relatively slim culture) to America (relatively not-so-slim culture) to England (a bit of everything), so maybe it took us longer than most to jump on this band wagon due to our changing cultural perceptions of what’s healthy and what’s not. But we’re here now, and it hasn’t been a fun ride so far.
I know what you’re thinking – another blog on depression? And it’s true, there is so much information out there trying to raise awareness of depression; figures stating how common it is, personal stories of what it’s like to live with, where you can get help, what we could/should/need to be doing about it. But I honestly don’t think there can ever be too much talk about depression, and my own personal experience is what has driven me to write yet more about it.
The first of a series of blogs from two new volunteers as they go from their first training session at Nottingham Nightline to becoming fully fledged Nightline volunteers. This first blog was written following their first training day.