Bipolar, What Is It?

What is bipolar disorder? Despite being one of the most known mental health disorders many people still don’t exactly understand what bipolar disorder is. That person really liked me a few hours ago and now they hate me, do they have bipolar? That person is talking really fast and they wont stop, do they have bipolar? That person seems depressed half of the time but they sometimes seem normal, do they have bipolar? In this article I’ll take a look into bipolar disorder.

What Is Bipolar Disorder?
Someone with bipolar disorder will experience extreme mood swings. There are two distinct periods or episodes. One is the manic episode which is a period of over-activeness and excitement, the other is the depressive episode which is like depression where you will feel low, worthless or hopeless. People with bipolar disorder will shift between the two different episodes with stable times in between, but these episodes can last for several months. Some people will experience more frequent or longer episodes than other people with bipolar disorder, and some will experience more severe episodes of mania or depression.

Manic Episode… Not Mechanic Episode
Mania is often described as a period of at least a week of elevated mood. Common behaviours of someone having a manic episode are being easily distracted, speaking rapidly, feeling restless or agitated, having racing thoughts or participating in risky activities. These include misusing drugs, increased sexual activity or spending. Most people who are going through a manic episode will not show a majority of these behaviours, so don’t expect your friend with bipolar disorder to start taking drugs just because they are going through a manic episode. The manic episode can be less obvious in many people which is why bipolar disorder can often be misdiagnosed as depression at first.

Depressive Episode Is Like Depression, Right?
Someone suffering from depression and someone going through a depressive episode of bipolar disorder can essentially show the same symptoms as each other, however like the manic episode it is possible that two people going through the same phase can show different symptoms. Like with depression, someone who is going through a depressive episode may feel constantly sad, unable to enjoy things, worthless, hopefully or irritated. Everyone may feel these feelings throughout their lives but someone with depression will generally find these feelings are much worse and last a lot longer than usual. Suicidal thoughts and feelings might also increase during a depressive episode.

Oh No! It Sounds Like A Have Bipolar Disorder!
Don’t panic! Bipolar disorder has only been covered briefly in this article and there is not enough information in here to be sure whether you can the disorder or not. Remember only a doctor can officially diagnose you so if you are worried or concerned you should book an appointment with your GP to discuss it further. You can research bipolar disorder and other mental illnesses on the internet for more information, but you cannot be sure until you see a doctor.

My Friend Or Family Member Has Bipolar Disorder, How Can I Help?
One of the most important things you can do is support them, make sure they start or continue to receive medical support. Medication and counselling can help to lessen the effect of both manic and depressive symptoms. Besides medical support you should talk to them and see what they want from you, they may not know or they may not want help but respect their wishes, knowing you have someone to talk to is one of the greatest things you can have when suffering from a mental illness. If the friend or family member is going through difficult times, or you think they are a danger to themselves or others, you should tell someone to make sure things do not escalate. Their health is very important, but make sure you do not get too obsessed with helping them as that will be bad for your health.

Where Can I Get More Information?
There are several good sources of information on bipolar disorder on the internet including:
Mind Website
NHS UK: Bipolar
Time-To-Change


This post is part of my Blogging A to Z April Challenge. The theme today was “bipolar” as today was the letter “B”. Tomorrow I will talk about my experiences with CAMHS counselling (and that counsellor I talk so much about), so follow and come back tomorrow for the post!

How To Cover Self-Harm Scars

If you have self-harmed in the past there is a chance that you will have scars to remind you, but you might not want others to know of your past, or you may still have more recent cuts. How do you hide these cuts? The weather in the UK picked up for a few days and it is tradition in the UK that whenever the temperature is above freezing the men will walk around topless and everyone will plan a barbeque… not quite. But how can you cover your scars, especially with the warmer weather arriving? In this article we will look at five ways to help cover cuts or scars.

Do it in style guys...

Do it in style guys…

Long Trousers or Long-Sleeve Shirts
Common areas that people will self-harm are on their arms and thighs which can be hard to cover up in warmer weather without raising suspicion. If you have cuts on your thighs you could wear trousers or shorts that are long enough to cover all scars (basically shorts that go past the knees). A handy piece of advice is that you can wear jeans in almost any situation without raising suspicion. If you have cuts on your arms you can wear a thin long-sleeve shirt so that your arms are covered without getting too hot. A thick jacket in the middle of July will obviously make people ask questions, so be clever about what you wear, try to fit into the crowd if you don’t want too many people asking questions.

Make-Up
I am one of those guys who knows absolutely nothing about make-up. People wear nail varnish on their nails, that’s about it! One of the most talked about methods to hide scars is to apply make-up over the scars, which works better on lighter scars that are already a similar colour to your skin. If you are going to the beach or a pool party you might need to be careful about this method as you won’t want to make-up washing off. You can buy waterproof make-up (so I’m told).

Look like a martial arts expert... or not!

Look like a martial arts expert… or not!

The Bandage
Honestly, I would recommend this to anyone who lives in a colder country that doesn’t get a lot of hot weather. If you have a strange week of hot weather where you really want to wear a t-shirt and shorts, put a bandage over the area where you cut and say you have injured yourself. Falling down the stairs or falling when exercising are common ways to injure yourself, please don’t actually do this, but it can be your excuse. Keeping this method up for too long, such as a month or two, may get people asking you more questions so be wary. You could use this method in between spells of using the long-sleeve shirt method to lower suspicion on both.

Special Oils
For anyone who wants to start preparing now for the summer, keep reading. There are products such as BioOil which help reduce the appearance of scarring and stretch marks. Many people I have spoke to about self-harming have had wonders with this method for reducing their scars, and they say it has the most effect the earlier you start applying to oil. Be aware that some oils cannot be used while you are still self-harming as they may effect your wound.

Just Accept Them
Some scars will stay with you for the rest of your life, you can’t expect to be covering them up for another 60 years. At some point you will have to accept that you have gone through a difficult part of your life, but you made it out! Some people do not understand self-harming and will make assumptions about you, but you have nothing to be ashamed of. If someone has a problem with your scars, that is their problem, don’t let them get in the way of your happiness.

Now hopefully you know how you are going to hide, or not hide, your self-harm scars. These are all common methods that wont raise suspicion, but be aware that people may ask you strange questions from time to time although that doesn’t mean they know about your self-harming. In an ideal world we wouldn’t need to self-harm, but we all have our ways of coping. Do you have any other methods to hide your scars? Or do you have a story about one of the methods above? You know the drill, share below.

Five Most Helpful Posts… So Far

2 months of blogging already! I’ve brought to you my troubles, my poetry and my opinions but quite interestingly I have brought some helpful advice along with me. This post will show you my “most helpful posts” so far based on the view numbers of my help articles. I hope you take something useful out of this, the advice I give is tried and tested by either myself or professionals. Enjoy!

Ducks15) Unusual Methods To Combat Self-Harming [Part 2]
Views: Dominoes in a standard set (28)
Fifth on the list is the second part of my three part series where I looked at unusual methods to combat self harming. I am someone who self harms so I understand the reasons why someone would self harm, but also why they would want to stop. This post looks at four methods to distract yourself or remove the urge to self harm, including things you can do with other people or by yourself. In fact, two of the four methods on this post I still use from time to time so they can work for some people.
Click here to view the post.

Ice Cubes4) Unusual Methods To Combat Self-Harming [Part 1]
Views: Number of studio and compilation albums by Elton John (47)
One of the first posts on my blog, and since my blog was so small at that point it surprises me that this post made it onto the list. The first part of my unusual methods to combat self harming series looked at four methods to stop yourself from self harming. While they are unusual methods, many people who have tried to get help with self harming will have heard one of the methods on the list. Ice…
Click here to view the post.

Dreaming Bed3) How To Sleep… For Insomniacs
Views: Age of boxer Mike Tyson (48)
Who remembers when I kept writing posts related to insomnia? Well, I think I only did three but this was one of them. This post takes advice from professional self-help books as well as my own experience, so that anyone with sleeping difficulties may find it easier to get some rest. While it may be a slightly shorter post than most others it does include a poem at the end, either you will enjoy it or it will be so boring that you will fall asleep. Win-win situation.
Click here to view the post.

GirlHeadache12) How To Help Someone During A Panic Attack
Views: Number of countries in Africa (54)
This post attracted a lot of people to comment on my blog as well as reblog the post on their own blogs. What are the symptoms of a panic attack? How can you stop them? Should you see a doctor? This post answers those three important questions so that you can help yourself or someone else during a panic attack. Anyone can have a panic attack, be prepared!
Click here to view the post.

DoubleHug1) How To Tell Someone You Are Suicidal
Views: Traditional retirement age in the UK (65)
This blog is no stranger to suicide posts. To me it feels like I write a post about it every week. My readers will know I often feel suicidal, so I have been in the situation a few times where I have to tell someone. Telling someone is the hardest part of getting help which is why it is so important, and I am not surprised that this is my most viewed help article. This post does answer a lot of important questions. Bookmark it, print it out, just stay safe.
Click here to view the post.

How Hip Hop Helps Beat Depression

Beating depression with hip hop? Surely this cannot be possible, we can cure this strange illness with a couple beats and rhymes? According to research from the Cambridge University (it’s my dream to go there) positive visual imagery and rags-to-riches stories told in hip hop and rap can create a better mental state. I’ll be honest and say just the catchy beats can sometimes make me feel better, but recently I have been listening to some more meaningful hip hop songs and they have made me feel better. Some of the songs I link below have got me through tough times, and I hope they do the same for you.

Vinnie Paz – Is Happiness Just A Word?
According to my sources, this song is about Vinnie Paz’s struggles with Depersonalisation Disorder(DPD). While I can’t confirm this, I know that many people suffering from depression will be able to connect with this song and understand they are not the only one suffering with these problems. This song could easily be about many different mental illnesses. Overall, I just really love this song from a rapper that most people have not heard of.
VinniePazYoutube1

Nas – If I Ruled The World (Imagine That)
I like Nas, and he is considered one of the greatest rapper to have walked on the face of the Earth. This is the positive visual imagery I was talking about, where Nas imagines a better life for all of the people in the world with him in charge. If I could choose one rapper to be in charge of the world, I’m sure Nas would come to mind (because I don’t think he would kill everyone).
NasYoutube1

Army of the Pharaohs – Suicide Girl
The last rap verse of this song hit me hard. This song might trigger you so don’t listen to it if you are easily triggered, as there is a lot of talk about self-harm and suicide. But that last verse… oh man, give it a listen. If I could sum up my depression in a verse, it would be that last one. I am seriously thinking about playing that verse to everyone I know. Yeah… I’m probably hyping it up a little too much…
ArmyOfThePharaohsYoutube1

Kendrick Lamar – i
I smile when I look at Kendrick Lamar in this video, this is the happiest song on my list. It is very up-beat as Kendrick talks about loving himself, and the message from this song should be that you should love yourself too! It’s been nominated for a Grammy too, so it’s a recognised hit if you want to stay “down with the kids”.
KendrickLamarYoutube1

Tupac – Thugz Mansion
There are two versions to this song, the acoustic version featuring Nas, and the remix version featuring Anthony Hamilton. The acoustic version has got me through I got of tough times, I remember once walking out of my house thinking whether or not to commit suicide (I wasn’t actually going to do it) and I had this song on repeat for two hours. I now know all the words! The remix with Anthony Hamilton has a couple lines which make me go crazy whenever I hear it, “I once contemplated suicide, and woulda tried, but when I held that nine, all I could see was my momma’s eyes”. Note that both were released after Tupac’s death.
TupacYoutube1

Eminem – Lose Yourself
In this day and age you are not allowed to compile a “great rap” list without Eminem on it. I could choose from so many songs, Beautiful, Rock Bottom, but in the end I chose Lose Yourself. Why? It’s a song about being an underdog and getting out into greatest. I don’t know why your depressed, but thinking you could be in a better place will make you feel better…
EminemYoutube1

How To Help Someone During A Panic Attack

Your friend is breathing heavily, shaking and their forehead is covered in sweat, what do you do? Firstly, you must recognise they may be having a panic attack. Panic attacks are commonly caused by anxiety which can occur in people suffering from a variety of mental illnesses, as well as people who don’t. To help your friend you must recognise the symptoms and take appropriate action.

What Are Panic Attacks? What Are The Symptoms?
A panic attack is a sudden bout of extreme anxiety, displayed by several psychological and physical symptoms. They are sudden and can often appear for no reason. They will generally last for 5 to 20 minutes and you will feel unwell, in danger, and possibly believe you may die (even though you cannot die from panic attacks). The physical symptoms include:
– Heavy breathing
– Sweating
– Trembling/Shaking
– Chest pains
– Headaches
– Feeling sick
– High pulse or palpitations
– Tense muscles

Panic attacks, can you spot them?

Panic attacks, can you spot them?

Not all of these symptoms may occur, often only 2 or 3 three symptoms will be present. The symptoms are caused by the body responding to what you think is a threat. Your body takes in more oxygen (shown by heavy breathing) and releases hormones such as adrenaline (causing the faster pulse and tense muscles).

What Should I Do?
If there is a cause of the panic attack, try to remove it. For example, if you know the panic attack was caused by a phobia, get them away from the fear. Getting them to a quieter area will help in most cases.

You must then try to slow down the breathing so that the carbon dioxide levels in the blood will return to normal. Breathing in deeply through the nose, and slowly back out the mouth can help. If hyperventilation occurs, breathe into a bag for 20 seconds, then without a bag for 20 seconds, and repeat until the breathing becomes more regular.

Controlling breathing will usually cause the other symptoms to go away.

Should I See A Doctor?
In a majority of cases, medical advice is not required. You should seek medical advice if:
– The panic attack continues after 20 minutes of attempting to control breathing
– The fast or irregular heartbeat remains after the panic attack ends
– You feel unwell after the panic attack ends
– You have regular panic attacks

Panic attacks will seem scary, but you should not worry about them. Most people will suffer at least one panic attack in their life, and they are not dangerous to your health. If you are concerned you should speak to a health professional, but remember the advice in this post and you should be fine.

First CAMHS Appointment – What To Expect

Sitting in a blue room, shaking with tears rolling down my face. A strange woman tries to ask me for the fifth time if I know the cause of my depression. For those who want to know what went on in my first CAMHS counselling session those sentences will sum it. I was expecting a lot of horrible things to happen during the session, and I’m glad to say most of them did not occur.

(Not really) Me sitting in the waiting room

(Not really) Me sitting in the waiting room

So at your CAMHS appointment you will sit down in the waiting room (actually… that’s like most appointments). I remember the waiting room to be mostly blue and white, and in fact the other rooms I looked in where also very blue. After telling the woman at the desk I had arrived for my appointment I sat down. There were magazines for teenagers and toys for younger children but I chose to just sit and wait. After about 10 minutes another woman came into the room. They shook hands with me and my mum, then led me to the other side of the building. This was my counsellor.

We were the only two in the room she took me to, however there were six or seven chairs in a circle as you would expect for a group meeting. I chose a seat and she sat down next to me. The first five minutes of our conversation were mostly introductions and her telling me she would try to help as much as she can while taking down notes. Then it begin! “So, what do you think is wrong with you?”, “When did your depression begin?”, “Do you always feel sad?”. Question after question, at first I thought I was on a quiz show, with the grand prize being the eradication of my depression.

What CAMHS Will Question You About:
– What you think is wrong with you, and how it began
– Your home, school and social life
– Who you are close to, and relationship with family
– Symptoms of mental illness (do you? how long?)
– Whether you use drugs and alcohol
– Anything which might help them find the cause of your problems
You can refuse to answer any question, if you stay silent they will move on and possibly come back to it later.

Yes, everything I have mentioned above they asked me about. As the conversation went on I became more anxious. I was shaking within about 10 minutes, and my counsellor kept asking me about it. We eventually got onto the things I did not want to talk about such as my suicidal thoughts and self-harming. I do not mind talking to my counsellor about them when I know them better, but I had only known them for half an hour. I was shaking a lot, looking down and the other way, tears were rolling down my faces and my breathing was starting to become heavy. A panic attack you might say.

Throughout the whole conversation, the counsellor remained calm and did not make me answer anything I did not want to answer. When they realised I was not going to answer any more questions (I responded to the last ten with “I don’t know”) they booked me another session for next Wednesday. This session lasted about 50 minutes, and then we went back to the waiting room. The counsellor collected my mum and they talked privately for another 30 minutes, I presume it was about my home life but it could be anything. Then we left…

I wrote this for those who worry about their first CAMHS appointment (or any appointment). I know I was worrying about it, and I have talked to many other people who worry about it. My message is simple, don’t worry. Okay, so I had a panic attack but nothing bad really happened. Do you have any memorable counselling sessions? Share your stories below.

Seven Self-Harm Myths, Busted!

The UK has one of the highest rates of self-harm in Europe, but many people still do not know these simple facts about self-harm. The stigma created by many of the myths in this post stop many people seeking help about their self-harm problems. Attention seekers? Suicidal? Dangerous? There are loads of myths that can be broken down by simply analysing the statement or doing simple research. These myths have all been proven wrong but not enough people know that, so I have given seven common myths and the truth (and lies) behind them.

“People who self-harm are attention seeking”
Sadly, a majority of people who self-harm do it secretly, it is possible you know someone who self-harms. Self-harm is a common way of coping with problems, it may give a person feelings when they are numb or physical pain to get rid of the emotional pain. There will be a few people who self-harm for attention, but they are likely to only harm once or twice, if they continue to do it over a long period of time they may have other issues in their life. This myth often stops people coming forward and seeking help.

DontDoItBlade

“Self-harm means cutting”
Cutting is one form of self-harm, but there are several others. Excessively scratching your skin, burning yourself, pricking yourself with needles, overdosing, these are all other methods of self-harm. It should now seem obvious that anything you do to intentionally harm yourself could be considered self-harm.

“If someone self-harms they are dangerous”
This is a complicated one, it does make sense but not how many people think. If someone self-harms they could be dangerous to themselves. A majority of methods of self-harm could easily go wrong, for example someone may cut their wrist too deep or hold their hand in a flame for too long. Someone who self-harms is dangerous so you should try to help and educate them to make sure they do not do something they will regret in the future. On the other hand, you are unlikely to be in danger by hanging around with someone who self-harms. They will only harm themselves. When self-harm turns to suicidal thoughts, you should be more concerned for both their and your safety, but remember that the person who self-harms is in far more danger than you.

Want ideas to combat your self-harm cravings? Click here.

“People who self-harm can stop when they want”
You would probably not say this about a drug addict, or an alcoholic. Self-harm can become an addiction, self-harm has been shown to release chemicals that boost the mood. When someone has problems in their life, these chemicals may be their only way of coping so they become addicted. I am addicted to self-harm, and I am trying to stop with the help of my friend and professionals. If someone is addicted to self-harm, they will not be able to stop on their own. Would you expect a drug addict to just give up?

I wanted happy pictures, so I brought my smiley face back. Smile!

I wanted happy pictures, so I brought my smiley face back. Smile!

“If someone self-harms they are suicidal”
Self-harm is a way of living, not dying. As mentioned before, someone who self-harms is using it to cope with the problems in their life. Self-harm can be linked to suicide and can lead to accidental death but a majority of people self-harm to cope.

“If the wound isn’t bad we don’t need to worry”
Just because blood is not pouring out, or the cut is so deep you can see muscles and tendons, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t worry. Personally, when I am suffering the most emotionally I will do lots of smaller cuts. This does not apply to everyone, but you cannot judge emotions based on one wound. Always take self-harm seriously.

“They must have a serious mental illness if they self-harm”
It is understandable where this myth can come from, why would your average person hurt themselves? Self-harm should be used as an indication that there are problems in a persons life, but those problems may not necessarily be a serious mental illness. This does not rule out an illness, but talking to the person will probably give you a better understanding of why they self-harm.

A poem about the feelings of depression, and the battle faced by those who suffer from it.

There we have it, seven myths busted! Or re-busted… or explained again so that people can learn… Anyway, for people to feel comfortable with their self-harming they must know that will not be judged, they must know that those they talk to know the truth about self-harm. Are there any more myths you believe people should know are not true? Or do you want to discuss one of the myths above? Share in the comments below, and remember, if you self-harm you are not alone.