One in Four- Blog Round Up and Self Harm

Hello!  I have been knee deep in personal life shit recently and forgot to pick up my prescription, amongst other things.  Nowhere is open until Monday so I have a weekend where I’ll be yelling, “HELLO! HELLO! I AM VERY AWAKE! ARE YOU AWAKE? WAKE UP AND TALK TO ME! I WANT TO TALK ABOUT WORMS” ahead of me.

One in Four’s new issue is out, so thought I’d subtly point you towards the Blog Round-Up I wrote for it, as some of you feature in it.  I was quite careful in who I picked to write about.  Although I love so many mental health blogs, at that time, at the turn of winter, a lot of people were undergoing crisis and I didn’t want to glare a spotlight on them which would just put pressure on people.  I was going to include Mindriddles but decided against it.

Sadly, Bipolar Mo seems to have buggered off!  Where are you, Mo?   Speaking of which, Wife of a Schizophrenic has been incredibly quiet, too, and I emailed her without getting a response.

And here’s the short article I wrote on self harm, too.  They’re not my best, I wrote them when I was quite unwell and my command of sentences and bodily functions had deserted me, and are, of course, edited.  Still, hope you like them.  The self harm article is part of their Mythbusters series.

One in Four is the mental health lifestyle magazine written by those with mental health problems.  You can order your copy here, which I suggest you do. Penny Red‘s also involved with them, they’re a good lot and they don’t write patronising little pamphlets so often aimed at those with mental illness.

For those averse to clicking links, here’s the Blog Round-Up.  ‘Scuse all this self promotion!

Seaneen Molloy award-winning blogger and writer, shares her five favourite mental health blogs

Once upon a time – when dial up modems still ruled supreme and using the phrase, “Google it” in public elicited raised eyebrows – the only information regarding mental health was recycled medical journals and painfully slow loading charity websites.

Blogging was once maligned as the mainstay of 16-year-old girls who insisted that the world really needed know what they had for dinner.  Now, it’s become a legitimate rival to print media, with many major newspapers hosting blogs.  Opinion pieces are increasingly taking precedence over factual journalism, and some bloggers command the respect, and occasionally the fame, of their inky counterparts.

The world of mental health boasts its own community of bloggers (affectionately dubbed by some as the “madosphere”).  First person experiences of living with mental health problems were, before the internet, confined mostly to booklets stacked in doctor’s waiting rooms.   Now, these experiences are freely available to read online.  

Bloggers can be valuable allies in demystifying dispassionate medical journals.  The information regarding mental  health online is helpful,  but the language can be abstract and distant.  What does mania actually  feel   like?  How do people live with depression?  How can I help someone with a mental health problem? Am I alone?  The flourishing collective of mental health bloggers help to vocalise the realities of living with mental health problems.  Some of the blogs are funny.  Some are sad.  Some are written in three times, then abandoned.  Each is unique.

Blogging is also an equalizer.  For every blog written by someone living with a mental illness, there’s another written by a psychiatrist, and a carer, and a nurse. The world of blogging has given patient and doctor a place to freely interact beyond the boundaries of professional relationships.  If you’ve ever wondered what it’s like at the other side of the doctor’s desk, then wonder no more.

There are many varied and valuable mental health blogs out there.  Here are just five of them.

Marine Snow:

Lola Snow is the pseudonym of a twenty eight year old self confessed blonde who “eats sugar free jelly with chopsticks”.  Her blog, Marine Snow, is a recent addition to the mental health blogosphere and chronicles her progress as she recovers from an eating disorder.

Eating disorders are a notoriously contentious topic.  Even recovery blogs can come under fire for being “pro-ana” just  by virtue of adopting a non-judgmental tone on the subject.  Lola’s blog is not a pro-eating disorder website, however, she doesn’t shrink away from describing and acknowledging the impact that her eating disorder has on her life and her mental health.  Her frequently updated blog entries are inspirational, and she discusses her experiences with an intelligence and candour that’s commendable as well as compelling.  Her comments page is also host to lively discussions, and  she has published an exhaustive list of eating disorder resources. 

The World According To Me:

Nessa is both a doctor and patient; she’s training to be a GP in her native Columbia.   She has a serious crush on The Joker, a weak sense of smell and she suffers from recurrent depression and Avoidant Personality Disorder.  

Nessa’s been writing her blog for over two years, and she vividly describes how her illness affects her life, and particularly her studies.  The poetic eloquence of her prose is straightforward without being gratuitous, and her descriptions and experiences continue to resonant with and uplift many readers. 

Bipolar Mo:

Mo is a cynical forty eight year old with a sideline in weird photo captions.  And, as the title suggests, he has bipolar disorder.

There is a wealth of bipolar disorder blogs out there, but Mo’s is notable for its humour and honesty.   He writes about topics familiar to a lot of people with the disorder- medication and all its assorted side effects, the merry go round of moods, the flux in energy, the casualties of memory, the psychiatric appointments and the impact his illness has on relationships.  His tone can veer into world-weariness, but there is always a spark of mischief in his prose, and at his lowest ebbs he still manages to rally with wit.  His blog is punctuated by impassioned polemic regarding the wider social issues of stigma and discrimination faced by those with mental health difficulties.  And it also features some quite frankly bizarre photoshop images.

Fighting Monsters:

No-one knows what a bad time it is to be a social worker more than  Fighting Monsters .  With the recent “Baby P” scandals, the only job title it’s worse to have right now is that of head of an international bank.

Fighting Monsters  is the “life and thoughts of a British Social Worker”, who works within a mental health team that cares for those aged over sixty five. She’s extremely passionate about her job and is a voice in defence of her profession.  Her thorough, articulate and illuminating blog meticulously dissects the stream of media criticism directed at social workers and explains the various policies and procedures of her job.  She also writes comprehensively about the day-to-day operations of her mental health team, casting light upon shady subjects such sectioning and life inside a psychiatric ward. 

Her cases also feature prominently in her entries, which is partly what makes her blog so compulsively readable.  Many mental health blogs focus on the young, and she provides a unique insight into treatment of the elderly within mental health services.  She writes frequently about topics that are sometimes neglected within mental health literature, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.  Considering that 3.5 million people over the age of sixty five suffer from dementia or depression, and only 15% of them receive mental health services,  Fighting Monsters  is an often poignant insight into a somewhat neglected section of society. 

Wife of a Schizophrenic: 

Some people canonise carers as selfless angels who sacrifice themselves for someone else.  The relationship is a simple one that runs one way: the carer gives, the patient receives.  But carers are not angels.  They are partners, family members and friends.  And a person is not a patient just because they are unwell. 

Mr Man’s Wife, not her real name, is married to Mr Man.   Mr Man suffers from schizophrenia, and is cared for by his wife.  She doesn’t care for him out of duty, or selflessness.  She cares for him because they’re deeply in love, and they adore each other. 

Wife of a Schizophrenic is an unpretentious, engaging and deeply human account of life with Mr. Man.  It charts his hospital admissions, his wife’s frustration with the mental health system, his symptoms and his recovery.  It illustrates their life together and the various obstacles they’ve faced as a couple, including Mr Man’s Wife own struggle with depression.  She also deconstructs many of the hysterical media myths about the illness, which provokes a lot of thoughtful debate. 

Although Wife of a Schizophrenic is a wonderful blog, I’d like to read more first person accounts of what it’s like to live with schizophrenia, and other psychotic illnesses.  Sadly, in the blogosphere, they are few and far between. Schizophrenia is a complex and misunderstood illness, and I hope in the future that more people who live with it feel that they can blog about their experiences.

Seaneen Molloy’s (get it right Mark!) award-winning blog is here.

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