Q1. Tell me a little about your mental illness and if you have sort help?
I’ve experienced episodes of depression and anxiety since my teens. As an adult that has continued along with episodes of psychosis. However, I have recently been given diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder and I’m currently on a treatment waiting list. I have sought help at different points in my life from my early 20s to most recently, I’d like to say each experience was positive but it’s been a mixed bag.
I’m also a chronic pain patient which has certainly impacted on my mental health.
Q2. Have you taken antidepressants? If so what affect did they have on you? What advice would you give to someone starting a course of antidepressants?
I have taken a lot of meds from anti-psychotics, anti-seizure meds, and medication specifically for depression. Some has worked wonderfully and some has had that many side effects that the only thing I could do was to come off of them.
One thing I would say to someone is that yes there are some awful side effects from some drugs but ultimately they can be life savers. They are a step one the road to recovery, a small step but for some people a vital one.
Q3. What coping strategies do you use on a bad day?
A bad day for me can include devastating pain so my coping strategies take that into account. The most important thing for me is insight. At times paranoia can creep up on me so knowing myself, my emotions, and having awareness goes a long way to preventing me from spiralling down.
If I’m having a bad episode of depression I keep in mind that it will go, that I’ve been there before, and that this thing isn’t me. I bring my awareness to my breath and body, paying attention to how I’m feeling but I don’t latch on to that awful hollow that’s sitting inside. It’s taken me a long time to be in a position where I can do that, in the past it has dragged me down and suffocated me in despair.
Q4. What effect do you think social media has had on your mental health? What affect do you think it has on other people’s mental health?
In the past social media has had a very negative impact on my mental health, seeing the anger and hate that people project onto posts or tweets really got to me. And of course I had my share of unnecessary arguments too.
Now it doesn’t bother me so much. I feel sad, I suppose, for people like that and when I come across the rants and arguments I do my best to see the person as a person and not just some anonymous face. Once I have done that I might incorporate the person into my meditation practice later on in the day. After all, there’s little point in only showing positive emotions towards those we like, we ought to show positive regard towards those we dislike.
Q5. What changes would you like to see in raising awareness for mental health going forward?
With regards to mental health awareness, I think as many as us as possible ought to widen their circle on Twitter. If we want better awareness then we need to be engaging with those who are misinformed, there are some great people on Twitter but if they are already aware of the problems mental health service users face then what’s the point of tweeting the same old stuff at each other?
Education is the answer to reducing stigma. Education that stretches from the everyday person on the street to the highest levels of government. Media outlets, schools, private businesses, local councils, and so on all need to be included.
Awareness is more than a week or month for a certain cause, it has to touch people on an emotional level, they have to feel what it’s like, or as close to, for the person who experiences mental ill health.
As for what I’d do? I talk about my experiences of mental illness, what it’s done, how I started to recover. I’m not in a position to change the world but I can change the world around me. I can challenge ignorance when I see it and educate people when I can.
Q6. Have you ever experienced stigma yourself? How did you deal with this?
I think I’ve been very lucky when it comes to stigma. I’ve had people in the medical profession say things and behave in ways that weren’t helpful but I’m confident when talking to people so I’ve been fine challenging them on what they’ve said or done. It’s funny, ask me to shop in a supermarket and I hate it, ask me to speak to a room full of people and I’m completely fine.
Q7. Finally, yay! I hear you say..
What advice would you give to someone who is struggling in silence with their mental health?
Talk. Pick up the phone and talk to Samaritans, talk to your GP and yes I get that talking to a GP might be a roll of the dice. What I’m saying is take a breath and open up to someone. It won’t be an easy journey but it is a journey and you can get through it.
Talking is the first step, the most important one, until you feel ready to take the next step of course and that’s how you do it.
Thank you so much for taking part Rishin and sharing your story and advice for others.
You can find Rishin here:
If you are suffering with a mental illness please don’t hesitate to seek help. There are some fantastic charities out there. Please see below:
Mental Health Hour on a Sunday evening uk time 9pm on twitter.