Can Positivity Be Toxic?

Can positivity get toxic, really?

YES!

 

Positivity is great and all but toxic positivity ignores the fact that a person is suffering. It is saying “be positive, be grateful, other people have it worse” when someone is in pain. It says to pretend to be okay when someone clearly isn’t. It masks the problem.

You’ll get over it!

Look on the bright side!

It could be worse!

Everything happens for a reason!

Just keep smiling!

Stop being so negative!

These are some examples, out of many, of toxic positivity. And I’m sure you have used one of these phrases, or something like it, before. I for sure have. Saying it to yourself might help to cheer you up but saying it to another person can be harmful. It can even be harmful to you if you’re burying your problem. An analogy I used to explain this was like taking painkillers for a malignant tumour that’s causing pain without actually dealing with the tumour; it’s only going to get worse.

 

I have been at fault of toxic positivity multiple times, like many people, maybe even on this blog, because as a society, we don’t address mental health well. We weren’t really taught how to encounter mental health issues in a proper way and we’re told be happy, be positive constantly. But it needs to stop.

 

I either read about this or heard it in a podcast, but I came to understand negative emotions aren’t bad. Anger isn’t bad. Envy isn’t bad. Sadness isn’t bad. We divide emotions up into good and bad; happiness is good, sadness is bad; we’re taught to suppress and avoid the bad ones. But we have the ability to experience these emotions for a reason! They’re not there for no reason! Toxic positivity sees these emotions as bad. In fact, personally, I believe no emotion is bad at all. We need to embrace them and channel them in a healthy way. A clinical psychologist, Dr Jaime Zuckerman, says, “Avoidance or suppression of emotional discomfort leads to increased anxiety, depression, and overall worsening of mental health.”

 

So how do we be non-toxic positive?

  1. Address your raw, real emotions. Don’t bury it. Don’t try and find a way to be happy without actually dealing with your anger or frustration or stress or sadness. If you’re feeling stressed about a workload, make a schedule and divide your work up into smaller pieces making it seem less stressful or daunting, for example. Or if you’re feeling sad or angry from a conflict with someone, talk to that person face to face or through text or a letter, etc, whatever you feel comfortable with. Brainstorm a solution to the problem you’re having – the solution could be simple or complex, getting someone to help you might be useful too.
  2. Find a way to cope with it inside of faking a smile and saying “be positive”! This could be through:
    -Listening to music
    -Channelling through art (painting, writing, playing an instrument, etc)
    -Meditating, yoga and breathing exercises (the one to the right has helped me before)
    -Vent in a journal
    -Dance it out! Or even just do a workout
    -Go outside on a walk or somewhere nice and calm
    -Watch a film in which you can relate to so you don’t feel alone or find comfort
    -Talk to someone about how you’re feeling
  3. Don’t shame other people’s negative emotions. Everybody experiences emotions like anger, stress, sadness, frustration, etc; it’s a very normal thing. We shouldn’t look down on people experiencing these emotions and judging them or shaming them will only make it worse for them! Instead, change your perspective on emotions and understand that it’s a normal human reaction and behaviour, helping us to tackle our everyday lives and problems.
  4. Step away from social media. Social media is a breeding ground for toxic positivity where it’s spread by people, who aren’t really aware that it is toxic. Taking a break from it could be beneficial to you and make you feel a bit free and more in control of your emotions instead of being fed quotes and posts that won’t help you.
  5. Spread awareness about toxic-positivity! Point out toxic positivity to people and correct them for it. I’ve put a table of correct things to say in place of toxic positivity below to make it clearer what is right and wrong. Non-toxic positivity accepts a person’s emotions and suffering instead of just trying to move past it and ignoring it.

Alternate phrases to avoid toxic positivity #CoolGuide | Mental and emotional health, Emotional health, Positivity

I hope this helped to make you familiar with what toxic positivity is and why it is bad.

 

-Shay

Plant Mum! 🌱

The start of 2019, I made the resolution that I would have plants since reading “Plants. Are. Good. For. Your. Mental. Health.”

This is where my addiction began.

 

My first plant was little Velma! I don’t know what kind of plant she was but she was a little cutie and I started to see how having a plant would help my mental health (ha!). She was my little baby.

Velma (front) and Daphne (back)

Velma was then joined by Daphne, my indoor daffodil. I was so excited as Daphne was a little baby so wasn’t a full daffodil yet and I was eager to see her progress, flourishing into the beauty she was going to be. That never came.

Vera was the next addition, an aloe vera.

Velma and Daphne eventually died. RIP.

And this is where it becomes a big old blur!

 

Vera

Vera was thriving, living her best life and then I adopted a little cactus off Etsy named Dr Xero (until writing this post I forgot I still have him). Dr Xero has a PhD. He’s also in love with Vera. Hehe. 

 

I then got this white flowery plant called Zara. She died. 

Zara was replaced when I adopted Bing Bong from Morrisons, a pink flowery beauty, who soon died too. God showed me no mercy.

 

My friend and I had a little cinema date to watch Jumanji 2 and on our adventure in Tescos, looking for snacks, we encountered the beauty that soon became Woody, out mini christmas tree plant. He has fake snow on him! We have shared custody but I’ve had him for a while. He’s turning yellow. 

Woody and his parents

 

My boyfriend and I then went to IKEA where we got matching lily plants. I named my one Lily and he named his Arthur. Couple goals.

Lily ft. sunflowers

 

I started to get too excited and very carried away. From this website, Patch Plants, I bought Leafy, a Devil’s ivy plant AND a Chinese money plant, I named Penny. 

Penny soon died.

 

My precious aloe vera, Vera, started to go mushy so I swapped her for my sister’s very healthy aloe vera and pretended like nothing happened. 😀

 

At this point, I don’t really know what happened. Somewhere along the way I got Alice/Maddie (idk what I even named her), and she was a tradescantia sitara. She was cool. She died. 

 

My dad bought me this asparagus plant thingy that looks like a tree from a savannah so I think I called my plant Savannah but I don’t remember. She’s basically dead but I keep her corpse in my room. It brings me comfort. 🙂

 

Boo (left) and Aurora (right)

I then got a cool pink succulent, in which I LOVED. I called her Aurora, she was beautiful. She was my pride and joy. She tied my room together. And then she started turning green and crippled away no matter what I did. I also got my bamboo plant, Boo, at the same time and I absolutely adored her. She is now on her way to the afterlife. 

 

My boyfriend and I then went on another plant spree and we got two plants each. I got a rubber plant, because I heard they were easy to look after and I also got this tiny little purple leaved plant. Robin was my rubber plant and the little purple one was called Raven and I put a tiny little witch’s hat on her. Raven may or may not be dead but she is still in my room. 

 

For Christmas, I got this cool plant, I don’t know what it’s called. I don’t think I named it either. Might as well not because guess what, it’s basically dead. My cat, Willow, also for some reason LOVED to eat his leaves so I had to move it away. 

My plant and Willow

During my plant collecting time, I also tried to propagate a mint plant. I think I tried three/four times and they kept dying. I am cursed. 

 

Currently, the plants I still have are:

  • Raven, my purple leaved plant (basically dead)
  • Woody, my Christmas plant (although pee pee yellow)
  • Boo, my bamboo (dead!)
  • Savannah, asparagus plant (surprise, dead-ish!)
  • Unnamed Christmas plant (dry and dead like my insides)
  • Robin, my rubber plant (missing leaves but is okay)
  • Vera, my aloe vera (I AM VERY SAD ABOUT THIS BUT SHE IS TURNING YELLOW!)
  • Leafy, my Devil’s Ivy (is missing a lot of leaves)
  • Lily, my lily (she’s actually good)
  • Dr Xero, my cactus (thriving, well and healthy!)

I really really love plants but they don’t love me. It’s the same with squirrels. I’m not sure if Winter is the reason my current plants are departing or because no one watered my plants while I was gone for a month but I don’t think I should be getting anymore. 😦

 

The moral of the story is, I think I have an addictive personality and plants caused more stress and grief on me than I ever could imagine. FUN!

 

THE END

-Shay

“Depression Superpowers”?

I have recently discovered a podcast on Spotify called Depression Talks with Immanuel and in one of his episodes, he speaks about so called “depression superpowers”. That, of course, sounds absurd. How can this burden of a disease be considered something as glorifying as a superpower. But upon further investigation, Immanuel is somewhat right.

Although depression is a horrible condition, it does have its positives, which I, too, have learnt over the years. In fact, after my first ‘encounter’ with depression, I was obviously relieved to have come out of it but also in a way grateful for having gone through it because of the ‘positives’ I gained from it. And that’s what I’m going to talk about here.

Empathy

Depression increases empathy, which is something I noticed was quite significant for me. Before depression, I wasn’t as empathetic as I am now. I now feel connections with people struggling with extreme emotions and issues in their life, even if I haven’t been through it myself. The level of empathy I have now is very intense, which is a big change from how I used to be. Of course, as you get older, your empathy will grow from when you were younger and naïve but I know, for certain, depression has enhanced that for me. It means I find it very easy to put myself in someone else’s shoes, experiencing their emotions and thoughts. Obviously, you can never fully understand what internal or even external struggle someone is going through but being extremely empathetic can for sure make it easier. It also makes it easier to understand you never really know what someone’s going through and to be kind, which leads me on to my next point.

Judgement

I understand now that we never ever really know what someone’s going through, even if you think you really know that person. I have become cautious over what I say to people because I know even the smallest thing can trigger a whole load of emotion in someone, which we may not realise from them concealing it. I can admit that before depression, I could be quite judgemental and close-minded and depression has in a way moulded me to become a better person when it comes to thinking about other people, and for that I am actually grateful.

Questions, Questions, Questions

Anyone with depression knows the ongoing daily questions that can dart through every corner of your mind. Why am I here? What’s the point? Does anyone even love me? What’s my purpose? And from first glance, those questions seem very negative, and for the most part they are. But every single one of those questions can be a positive question. It forces us to think deeply, involving logic and empiricism (and this is even used in CBT). What’s my purpose? This can seem very negative, questioning whether they should give up, etc, but this can be turned into ‘Yes, what is my purpose? What is something I can do to make my life feel fulfilled, etc. You don’t need a purpose to be alive but by asking questions like these, we can in turn think deeply and evaluate our lives. Another example is questioning if people really love you. There will, of course, be people that love you, but the question can simply evaluate all your relationships, judging what’s right and wrong with it, helping to possibly change it for the better. Asking so many questions also makes us more analytical.

Analytical Thinking

Sharon Begley in her Newsweek article, The Upside of Depression, explains that our brains are always on a treadmill. Most of the time anyway. Sometimes we can be paranoid and overthink far too much, thinking “So and so hates me, I’m awful, of course they would hate me….” and thoughts like these tend to cycle through our heads constantly, which apparently help us to think about the origin of depression in the first place. It can even lead to Eureka moments. A 2007 study reported people feeling depressed before doing challenging maths problems tend to score higher than those who are happy.

Healthier Choices

This is something that happened post ‘first time I was depressed’. Through the experience, I have done a lot of research on how to better myself and making healthier choices like eating my vegetables, stretching, working out, etc. I’m not amazing at it now but I am certainly better than before. Depression in a way has forced me to change to be a healthier me.

Appreciation

I’ve noticed amongst many depressives, including myself, that we tend to be very appreciative over small things, whether that be outwardly and vocally very appreciative or internally silently-thinking appreciative. Here’s a list of things that I really appreciate about life:

  • Sound and smell of rain
  • Flames
  • How the moon changes phase everyday
  • Cat yawns
  • Warm glow of sunset
  • Icy spiking air of mornings
  • Smell of coffee
  • Cloudy skies
  • Sunny skies
  • Snails 🙂
  • Faces you can find in tree trunks

Similarly, it has made me more optimistic, which is kind of funny for a depressive. A little bit ironic. Even though I can get trapped in negative thinking, I also like to look at the good that can come from ‘annoying’ things such as lots of noise = people in my life, or having to clean up = I have a home and room for me to live in. Gratitude is a feeling that can’t be forced but trying hard and learning to look on the bright side of things can feel rewarding.

Not Going With The Flow

Immanuel talks about this in his podcast but he found many people, who do not struggle with depression, who live their routinely lives of waking up early, going to work, coming home, being with their family, going to sleep, and repeat, are actually very happy in their lives. And that is great and I am happy for people content with their lives. However, depression has made me very stubborn to that kind of lifestyle, constantly in need of change, not going with the flow that most people are accepting of. And although this can actually make me more depressed when I am set in a routine for the meantime I can’t get out of, it has made me explore and experiment with different hobbies and experiences that can change up my day and has made me a happier and more interesting person.

Ambition

Following the previous point, depression has definitely made me more ambitious. Hitting rock bottom, I didn’t care about my future and dreams and ambitions, but because it is rock bottom, there is only one way to go – up – and with that, I grasped onto many ambitious ideas and hopes for the future like travelling to different countries (it’s how my bucket list came to fruition) and it’s how I decided what to do at university, too. Depression has made me want to feel more fulfilled with life and be more adventurous.

Depression had also forced me out of my comfort zone. I feel a lot more courageous and expressive, now than ever.

There are many other things that have come from depression that can be deemed as positive for people. You may not agree with everything I said here but I’m sure there are other things you can think of that have risen from depression that has helped you and your life.

Depression, of course, is a life-taking disease, and I do not mean to glorify it here, I just want to highlight some key positives and so called ‘superpowers’ that I have gained from it.

 

This blog started when I was deep into depression and didn’t understand it and to be honest, I didn’t really know what I was talking about. Now that I feel deep in again, I know it’s different because I do understand it better. As I said, I was happy when I came out the first time, I was thankful. But back then, I couldn’t compile words wise enough to describe the effects of depression and how they have actually bettered me but I have come a long way from the cringe-y, close-minded person I used to be.

 

-Shay

What Is Schizophrenia?

As you may or may not know, it’s Mental Health Awareness Week so I feel obligated to make a Mental Health Awareness post.

However, I feel like on this blog, I have spoken about depression and anxiety quite a bit already, educating and informing and even sharing my own experiences and others. Overall, mental health isn’t really talked about as much as it should. Depression and anxiety, two very common disorders, aren’t even talked about enough so imagine other disorders, which aren’t as common. Such as Schizophrenia.

(I’m going to litter this post with a bunch of art done by people with schizophrenia because I think it’s really interesting and beautiful)

 

At the beginning of this year, I learnt about Schizophrenia as a whole topic in my Psychology A Level. Before we first started being educated about it as part of our course, many people in my class were led on by some misconceptions, which I will clear up now since they are very common misconceptions.

  • Schizophrenia is not multiple personality disorder (it can change qualities about a person’s persoanlity but it doesn’t cause a split personality).
  • It’s not necessarily a violent mental illness (a small amount of people with schizophrenia can be dangerous, the same way a small amount of people with depression or no mental illness at all can be).
  • People with schizophrenia need to be hospitalised (they do not and I will go more into this as the post progresses).

 

What Is Schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is considered a mental illness, consisting of positive symptoms (an excess or distortion of normal functions) and negative symptoms (a loss of normal functions), which is why schizophrenia is so hard to diagnose and classify. Disorders like depression consist of mainly negative symptoms like poor hygiene or loss of pleasure for hobbies, rather than both positive and negative so can be easier to diagnose.

Here are just a few schizophrenia symptoms:

  • Hallucinations
  • Delusions
  • Thought disorder
  • Avolition
  • Speech poverty
  • Slow movement
  • Poor hygiene
  • Changes in emotions and body language

There are actually many many more symptoms of schizophrenia, which can also be symptoms belonging to other disorders. Avolition and poor hygiene, for example, are also symptoms of depression. Hallucinations and changes in emotions are also symptoms of bipolar disorder. People with schizophrenia also tend to possess other disorders too; a study showed that 50% of people diagnosed with schizophrenia have depression, 29% have PTSD and 23% have OCD. This makes classifying and diagnosing schizophrenia difficult, which can be really dangerous for the person as they may get inappropriate and/or ineffective treatment.

 

Some Interesting Facts!

  • It affects about 1-2% of people (% may be higher depending on if you are related to someone with schizophrenia).
  • Suicide is a severe risk in those suffering with schizophrenia.
  • The risk of schizophrenia is the same amongst all genders, countries and cultures, however some cultures and genders may be diagnosed more due to racism, sexism and ignorant perspectives.
  • It is most likely to affect people ages 16-30, especially if there is a big change in that individual’s life.
  • You can recover from schizophrenia but it’s the chance of this is not that high.

 

What Causes Schizophrenia?

The cause for schizophrenia is a hard one to pinpoint, as it is for most mental disorders. Schizophrenia is also aetiologically heterogenous, which is just a fancy word for ‘different combinations of factors leads to it’. I’m only going to explain a few factors today.

  • Genetic: Some people may have genetic variations associated with increased risk for schizophrenia, usually coding for dopamine, which is a neurotransmitter.
  • Dopamine: The brain may produce abnormally high amounts of dopamine and/or there’s too many dopamine (D2) receptors in dopamine synapses.
  • Ventricular Enlargement: Some people may have an enlargement of their brain cavities, which may be a result from the season of birth effect. People born during winter months may be more vulnerable to this, supposedly, as medication taken by pregnant women, who have viral infections, can cause foetal brains to be damaged.
  • Expressed Emotion: The disorder may result from being in a family characterised by hostility, critism, over-involvement and over-concern.
  • Schizophrenogenic Mother: A result of living with a cold, rejecting, controlling mother, who creates tension and secrecy, leading to distrust and paranoia. (This theory is a little sexist and outdated).
  • Dysfunctional Thought Processing: Metarepresentation, the ability to reflect on your thoughts and behaviour and have insight into your own intentions and goals, may be impaired. Central Control, the ability to suppress automatic responses while you focus on something else instead, may also be impaired. (This sounds, to me, more like the result of having Schizophrenia than the cause)
  • Childhood Trauma: Events in the person’s childhood can lead to the development of schizophrenia later on.

 

There are many treatments as a result of these different explanations such as drug treatments to tackle the dopamine problems, therapy treatments to target family issues and own personal issues. Token economy is also used within institutions for severe cases. These treatments are much better than what was once used a while ago. Schizophrenia is feared and rejected from society, even now, but a while back, it was considered this terrible thing and was treated maliciously. People were cut to allow them to ‘bleed out’ the disorder. Some people were kept in cages, some were rotated. Lobotomy was used, as well as electrocution. It was pretty grim. Although treatment is 100 times better now than the olden days, it still isn’t perfect.

 

Scientists and doctors view schziphrenia as an “illness” that needs to be “cured”. However, there is a big difference between what the scientists/doctors’ explanations and the actual sufferers’ experiences. A more humanistic approach looks through the eye of the sufferer and focuses on the human capacity to overcome hardship and pain by sharing experiences rather than just taking drugs and being hospitalised. And yes, the drugs may help the biology aspect of the disorder but taking drugs and being talked about as a crazy person, who is ill, can cause the person with schizophrenia to internalise the stigma put on them. This can lead to a self-fulfilling prophecy and actually make their schizophrenia worse. It can also lead to suicide as they may feel like a burden.

It doesn’t help that there is a Western emphasis on taking drugs for literally anything mildly wrong. An internet survey found more than 1/2 of schizophrenia websites are funded by drug companies so there’s already a bias towards taking drugs. Drugs may not be the best option, for most people. A Dutch man, Hans, said to his schizophrenia support group that the voices he was hearing started to become nasty and mean. The support group told him to demand the voice for respect in return for respect to the voice and the voice actually became nicer and easier to live with. Therefore, a possibly better option for people with schizophrenia is to stop looking at them as ill people and instead as people going through a different experience to most people, helping them to adapt their lives to live and cope with their schizophrenia rather than trying to get rid of the disorder. In fact, there was a study that found out of some post-mortem examinations, only the patients, who received anti-psychotic drugs, had increased levels of dopamine and/or resistance to drugs.

I personally think that a mixture of medication, therapy, lifestyle changes/adaptations and support from people around the person suffering, is the best treatment. However, this can be quite demanding for the person suffering.

 

Prevention And Coping Advice:

  • Make sure to get enough sleep.
  • Get regular exercise.
  • Eat healthily.
  • Practise relaxation techniques.
  • Look to friends, family and others for social support.
  • Don’t do drugs, kids.

 

Schizophrenia is a rare disorder but should still be made aware of. You shouldn’t be scared by people with schizophrenia and empathise with their situation rather than fear it. The crazy man talking to himself on the bus may just be responding to voices he is hearing – it’s not harmful. People with schizophrenia are just like you but are just dealing with different experiences, which can be very tragic (some lose jobs, relationships and even lives). It is a complicated disorder, in which treatments, causes and the way we view it are all up for debate but at the end of the day, it’s another mental illness, seen as a taboo, which it should not be.

Spread your awareness for schizophrenia!

 

-Shay

Misrepresentations in the Media | Mental Health of Young People (pt 2)

In this modern day and age, technology and media are blooming and growing, which in turn, shapes our lives, perspectives and beliefs. It constantly surrounds us, making it inevitable to not encounter in our everyday lives. This is why it’s so important and socially sensitive.

The media is there to make money, yes, but what is shown on it can be, in the long-term, harmful.

 

Additionally, this week is Mental Health Awareness week so this is the perfect time to share this post and my thoughts.

A lot of people, especially young people, are ashamed and afraid to speak up about their mental health issues, whether that be OCD, anxiety, depression, etc, due to the stigma and messages, that the media express and also the lack of advocating in the media about these important issues.

Young people are often seen as moody, reckless, careless and selfish people, even though there are reasons for these qualities and emotions. This is often portrayed in TV and film, which reinforces to viewers these negative characteristics are what they possess and are expected of teenagers. People are very quick to judge and jump to the conclusion that these teenagers and young people are antisocial and self-absorbed. I can prove this from my own experiences, where a lot of people, particularly my parents, would perceive me and my mental health issues as selfish and introverted behaviour and I would be constantly scolded for being angry, quiet and emotional. I understand that hormones and puberty play a role in mood swings and unpredictable behaviour but if these symptoms persist, there is likely to be a disorder involved.

  • 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14.
  • 75% of mental health problems are established by age 24.
  • 10% of children and young people (ages 5-16) have clinically diagnosable mental problems yet 70% of them have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.

Let me repeat that again. 70% of them have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age. This is partly due to the fact that these issues are shrugged off as being emotional, hormonal and attention-seeking.

 

Logic, an American rapper, released a song in 2017 called 1-800-273-8255, which is the number to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. This song had so much meaning and honesty within in, unlike other mainstream rap songs, revolving around money, sex and drugs. A line in the song states “they say every life precious but nobody care about mine”. People are constantly preaching about spreading happiness and raising awareness about mental health but how many are willing to sit by a person sobbing and screaming, who are clearly depressed. Even in the media, there are constantly quotes being posted and videos being uploaded about positivity and telling people how to be happy but there are very few teaching people, who aren’t suffering from a mental disorder, how to approach and help someone suffering. Truthfully, people with a mental health problem, for example, depression, are unlikely to read through or watch an entire video about ways to be happy, if they are extremely depressed, because to them, it seems like there is no hope. It would make more sense to reach out to people, particularly on social media, about ways in which you can help in everyday situations.

Logic’s song progresses from representing the emotional and cognitive characteristics of depression, for example, in the lines “I know I’m hurting deep down but can’t show it…and my life don’t even matter” to enforcing unconditional positive regard, for example, in “you got everything to give right now”. Calls to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline actually ended up increasing by 50% after Logic’s song was released.

 

Young people are pressured and forced to make huge and important decisions at such a young age. They are looked down upon for doing things like consuming drugs, getting bad grades occasionally, being sarcastic and cynical, when there are underlying reasons, in which no one are bothered to listen to. Young people are currently growing up in a generation where working incredibly hard still does not determine a bright future and where young people are seeing mass killings, terrorism and violence, which has become normalised and desensitised to, so that’s another reason for developing a negative view on the world and being cynical. There are assumptions that people suffering with mental illnesses are just going through a “phase” and are told to “just be happy”, as if it’s a choice. The World Health Organization Mortality Database showed that in 90 countries studied, suicide was the fourth leading cause of death amongst young males and third for young females. 9.1% of the 132, 423 deaths of young people, in the countries studied, were due to suicide.

Suicide is the third leading cause of deaths for 15-24 year olds. 24% of high school students have seriously considered attempting suicide and for every student, older teen and young adult, who do kill themselves, 100-200 of their peers attempt suicide, too. More young people died from suicide attempts in 1999 than cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, birth defects, strokes and chronic lung disease combined.

 

The stigma and discrimination around mental health is a huge factor in leading people to suffer in silence, feeling ashamed and confused and insecure. Men are mainly vulnerable to this as in society and the media, it’s unacceptable for men and boys to cry and be open with their emotions as it’s seen as weak and “feminine” and “gay”. Suicide rates are high amongst men not necessarily because men suffer from mental illnesses more than women but because they’re encouraged to bottle it up more.

Although it’s not the most obvious example, I think The Breakfast Club, although refers to conventional, old-fashioned attitudes, is a film where the male characters do open up their emotions and cry.

 

There are many shows that have the right depiction of mental health, for example Jessica Jones, which deals with PTSD, and Homeland, which deals with bipolar disorder. However, I want to focus on a TV show, that I love, which touches on the concept of mental health without making the plot, solely, about the struggles and suffering of those with mental health issues, The Walking Dead. Beth presents symptoms of depression and attempts to commit suicide. As her character develops, she slowly recovers and flourishes into a young, strong woman, despite the judgments and negative criticism she got, as well as being treated as a burden. She looks past this and helps others in need and demonstrates her strength, even though she’s perceived as weak from others. She proves there is always a safe way out. Another show, where it’s main plotline isn’t about dealing with a mental disorder but simply has a character with realistic symptoms of OCD, is Scorpion, where one of the main characters, Sylvester, has to deal with his disorder. Shows, like these, do not normalise and glorify mental disorders but show that it’s nothing to be afraid of and nobody is alone.

 

This is also a good time to discuss Thirteen Reasons Why, in honour of the release of season two on the 18th (tomorrow). Thirteen Reasons Why is a TV show about a teenage girl, Hannah Baker, who commits suicide and leaves behind tapes stating the reasons that led her to her fatal actions. Personally, I think Thirteen Reasons Why was good in showing people how to approach those, who are suffering in silence, and that it’s okay to admit to be going through a dark time and feeling overwhelming emotions and trauma. They raised good points but I don’t think they approached Hannah’s suffering and death well. She did not show persistent symptoms of depression, not to say that what she went through wasn’t traumatic, but it wasn’t reflective of what it’s like to suffer depression. The show, in a way, also glamorizes mental illness, as after her suicide, the show intrigues viewers into the drama and mysteries of her death.

 

Mental health needs to be taken seriously and society, the media, and platforms need to use their power and advantages to reach out and end the stigma, misrepresentation, lack of representation and discrimination. It may be mental health week but every week should be a week where we are aware and helping those with mental health problems.

If you made it this far in this long post (I apologise for the length), or if you skipped, please share and spread awareness and break the untrue stereotypes and shame surrounding mental disorders and illness, not just among young people, but everyone. And make sure to help others and maintain your own mental wellbeing or seek help if needed.

 

“The disease comes with a package: shame. When any other part of your body gets sick, you get sympathy.”

-Ruby Wax

 

-Shay

Three Day Quote Challenge #2 – Day Three

This is the last day of the quote challenge and I wanted to leave it off on a good yet deep note.

 

Rules

  • Thank the nominator
  • Post one quote each day for three consecutive days
  • Tag 3 bloggers each day

 

The Quote

“What’s the day without a little night?”

-Logic & Alessia Cara, 1-800-273-8255

I love both Logic and Alessia Cara as individuals, but I loved them even more when they united to collaborate on this song, 1-800-273-8255 (also the number for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline), that has such a powerful message and meaning, shedding light onto a topic that is deemed as shameful and a taboo to society. The quote implies that you need a little darkness in your life for there to be good and happiness, and that positivity will come out of a bad situation, even if your situation seems to be going on forever. You will at some point in your life be stuck in a place of darkness, some more than others, but there’s always a safe way out.

More on this song and mental illness in a later post.

 

The Nominees

Arabella

Antonio

A

 

-Shay

Baby Steps to Being Happier!

I used to be quite depressed.

It was really bad when I was about fourteen to fifteen years old. Now, I’m seventeen, and although I still haven’t fully recovered, I don’t think I’m depressed anymore.

There are many days where I feel mentally, emotionally and physically tired as well as lonely despite the countless friends and family I have surrounding me. Of course, everyone has a different case and I can’t understand completely what anybody, who is depressed or experiencing low moods feels like but I do know some things that work, at least for me.

I hate when people say ‘Just be happy’ or ‘Stop being sad’ like it’s a switch.

But you can take small steps to getting on the track of a happier life. Even if these things do not work for you, it’s worth a try.

 

Start a project:
Projects can be distracting but rewarding. It focuses your mind on something different instead of your problems and emotions. Although it’s not a permanent fix to how you may be feeling or any situational factors, it can motivate you to do something about your life and push you to be productive. You may also find, as I did, that you go to sleep feeling happier and less guilty or sad. You could pick anything, from something related to what you’re already good at or something entirely different and new. I chose writing – a story to be precise – and it’s something I feel proud of, even though I haven’t gotten very far with the writing process. Other examples include painting, training to run a marathon, learning to play the guitar, etc. Make your goal specific, realistic but challenging. Easy projects are quick and can be boring.

Find a new hobby:
I’ve spoken about this before but when I was in the midst of my misery, I decided at one point I wanted to change things. I had heard about people, who lucid dreamed and kept dream journals and devoted a bit of their time into controlling and thinking and learning more about dreams. I found it really interesting as I had already been a bit of a lucid dreamer but I never explored it, if that makes any sense. I did a lot of research and I, too, kept a dream journal, and it made me feel comforted and something to look forward to doing. It’s a little like the project idea but finding and partaking in a new hobby can be good and also rewarding. Google some crazy or weird hobbies that you never thought you’d do and try it out.

MHapp:
I recently downloaded the MHapp. It’s a free NHS mental health and wellbeing app, which helps with stress, anxiety and depression. It tells you how stress, anxiety and depression affect the body physically, it provides advice but, the part I use the most is this little icon called ‘My Wellbeing’. This is just a record of your emotion, on that day. However, as well as this, there are three boxes you can fill:
a) I am looking forward to…
b)Today I have achieved…
c) Today I am grateful for…
I know it doesn’t seem like much but those three boxes in a way forces me to think about the good that happened on the day even if I’m feeling down. Instead of making you recount the bad that happened on that particular day, you’re made to write about positivity of the future, present and the past.
You don’t even have to get the app to do this, you could use a notebook to write in every day and it can just be a few lines. Doing this pushes you to think positively.

Talk to someone regularly:
As humans, we’re social creatures. Loneliness is actually very harmful and I get that even in a room full of people, you can feel isolated. However, engaging in conversation with someone can reduce your feelings of loneliness and make you feel more refreshed. Social interactions have shown to increase happiness levels by 6.38%. You don’t even have to talk about your current feeling or issues. You could talk about anything but try and have a deeper, insightful conversation instead of just “what did you do today?” kind of conversations.

Have a ‘YOU’ day:
This is also something I’ve started to do recently. Dedicate a day to do things for yourself! Personally, I dedicated every other Sundays so that on Mondays, I feel refreshed and start the week with a positive attitude. What I usually do is be productive and do work in the morning and then later on in the afternoon or the evening, do face masks and wash my hair and have a bubble bath and drink herbal tea and watch a show or film I wanna watch. Basically, get comfy and do what makes you feel good.
Along with this idea of doing things for yourself, stay hygienic and healthy. Change into clean clothes, change your bed sheets, clean your room, go to bed at a good time, regular exercise (even just a five minute walk), tidy things up (both metaphorically and literally.)

Fake it ’til you make it:
If you are having continuous bad days, I hate to say this because even I would’ve rolled my eyes reading this but…pretend/act happy and cheerful. Feeling depressed and stressed usually goes hand in hand with overthinking and constantly thinking about something you did or an issue in your life. Try not to think about it too much and instead go about the day, smiling. I know it sounds like it won’t work and it may not but I try really hard to do this on days I wake up feeling negative and low and by the end of the day, I tend to feel better. For example, if you’re feeling angry about something someone did, don’t stress about it too much, smile (seriously, bare those teeth) and walk with a spring in your step. Say hi to people you know as you walk by and smile at them. That can brighten their day too.

That being said, do not push down your issues deeper. Tackle that issue if it continues to grow but try not to let that issue get in the way of how you’re feeling.

 

There are tons more different things you can do to help you feel a bit happier but these are just some that have helped me. I can’t guarantee it’ll work for you as we’re all different people, working in different ways, but there’s no harm in trying.

And if anyone reading this needs to talk, you can post it in the comment or email me at shayna2000@hotmail.co.uk

 

-Shay