By the time I was 23 I had been hospitalised for my condition three times, all two years apart around the same time of year- in between June and August. I don’t know why this time of year triggers me but it always seems to have, it is winter here and I don’t know if it has to do with the cold temperatures on not but each time I’ve been to hospital it has been around the same time of year, so you can imagine how absurd but real the fear is each year when winter comes around. Although I am now 31 and apart from my recent relapse last year I did go 7 years without any form of hospitalisation for my condition. That was a huge achievement for me !
Living with such things as mental illness are so hard to describe or explain to people who have never experienced it themselves or who have no idea what truly happens, I know and have heard some of the stigmas surrounding these areas of mental health and think it’s actually disgusting how some people respond to other situations and conditions of their mind. It’s not like we have a choice in the matter and if we did, we definitely would not choose this path. It’s such a hard road for many years which I walked alone. I didn’t think anyone in the world existed that had been through the same thing as me until many years after my first submission, because one thing most people probably don’t understand about mental illness is that although some people may be diagnosed with the same thing our symptoms, reactions, triggers, mind-set, attitudes, delusions are completely different. When I would try to explain to people what had happened to me most would laugh in my face because it seemed so out there and absurd. There were times in my 20’s that I couldn’t work or go to social gatherings because of the fear of being judged and criticised by everyone there..(hence the ongoing social anxiety I dealt with for years after). The thing I think people couldn’t understand most was that I “appeared” to be “well”. They would tell me things like “you don’t need medication” and “there isn’t anything even wrong with you”… hahahaha I laugh at this because these people were blind to the fact that psychosis is not something that can be seen all the time and just because I was having a “good day” doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. They were ignorant and but eventually saw the effects of my condition first hand.
Recently I was asked to be part of a Q & A for Beyond Blue where I was asked questions about depression, anxiety and mental illness. In one answer I compared having a mental illness to having a broken arm, something I have witnessed first hand, (I’m so proud that my statement has reached much further than I expected and hopefully in time will help shift the stigma). My statement was that people will rush over to sign your cast if you have a broken arm but avoid you if you have been diagnosed with some type of mental illness! How is this any different. We are both sick and need support, love, nurturing and care to get back to a healthy state of existence. Just like the broken arm in a cast, those of us with mental illness can’t fix ourselves properly without the right support.
Things are definitely moving forward in these areas compared to many years ago where people with my condition where left in dark rooms on their own, left to bleed out in baths, electroshock therapy and not to mention lobotomies. Therefore I guess those of us diagnosed with such conditions are lucky these days compared to the people of many moons ago, but there still needs to make a change, we need to stop rejecting and start accepting those who are different, who need different types of help and support in different ways. We need to stop laughing at people with psychosis, stop telling people with depression to just “be happy” and stop getting frustrated with people who have anxiety and stop telling them to just “get over it”. I have suffered all these conditions at some stage in my life and I can you you they don’t last forever, they come and go in phases and I believe that we can overcome anything we put our minds to. I know myself I’ve already come so far on this journey and I’ve been through many challenging times. But I’m not weak. In fact I’m strong, very capable and lovable and so is everybody else out there.
The Ghetto Mermaid xo
So after my first experience of be hospitalised for my condition it took me a long time to get back onto my feet again and accept what had happened to me, years in fact. But eventually there came a time where I was at peace with myself and my condition. The struggle has been real and I have faced some very difficult times and situations due to my condition. The first hurdle that I had to face was coming to terms with the fact that people in my community thought I was “crazy” and the taboos attached to being hospitalised for having a mental condition. It put so much strain on my relationships that I lost many friendships in my early twenties and like the saying goes, it did really show me who my good friends are and for that I am forever grateful.
We all get faced with difficult situations in our lives but we can’t let them dictate who we are, only we can chose how we deserve to be treated and only we can chose how we perceive ourselves. This is what I’ve learned from having many set backs and struggles in my life. In no way do I see myself as a victim but maybe a mental and emotional warrior. My story is a sad story at times but it is also a story of inner strength, compassion, love and determination.
Being in public was and still is hard for me as I often become flooded with huge amounts of anxiety, and paranoia about what other people are thinking of me, I’d often suffer from social anxiety which in itself for me was a fear of being judged. After the third time of hospitalisation I began to have major panic attacks. I remember the first panic attack I ever had like it was yesterday. It was so vivid and so horrible and I had no idea what was happening to me.
I was out at a local bar with a couple of my friends when all of a sudden EVERYTHING became too overwhelming, the room seemed to become hotter, the music and background noise became louder and invasive, all the colours in the room seemed to be so overwhelming and bright that I couldn’t focus on anything. My breathing began to slow down as my throat seemed to tighten, I had random thoughts racing through my mind and my clothes began to feel so constrictive. I had to leave in that instant so I did, I told my friends I had to leave and I almost ran out of the place, getting to the car taking off my shoes, belt and anything that felt too constrictive on the way.
These kind of attacks happened at least once a month for about three and a half years until I learned to overcome these demons. My doctor thought I was having anxiety and prescribed but it wasn’t until years later when I overcame these panic attacks and learned the difference between panic attacks and anxiety did I realise I’d been having them for years straight. Each time they would get that bad to the point where I would pass out. On the up side I’d always wake u feeling ok but those moments before felt like absolute torture. Fortunately though with the help of low doses of medication and lots of personal work on myself I taught myself to overcome my panic attacks. I still do get mild forms of anxiety form time to time but luckily enough I no longer suffer from full blown panic attacks.
Anyone who has experienced these or still does I feel your pain. There was a time where I could even hear someone talk about anxiety of panic attacks without going into “panic mode”. There was no real rhyme or reason to my attacks as they would happen whether I was out in public or sometimes just in the company of close friends and family. My friends would often get frustrated at me as they didn’t undertaking what was happening and they would often just want me to be ok, as did I. But I would always have to leave the party or wherever I was to be on my own, lie down and eventually fall asleep. It was a very challenging time for me as I never knew when they would happen and it would often cause strain on my friendships and disrupt my life. I remember one New Years Eve I was out with my friends, had my hair done, make-up, new dress and everything but I was only out for about half an hour before I had to head home with a full blown panic attack under way. When this would happen I would want to talk to the people around me but that would be virtually impossible as my mind was racing that fast and my throat felt like it was closing over and I could not breathe properly, the attack would take completely over to the point where I’d have to leave no matter what.
Over the years though the panic attacks became less frequent and slowly turned into anxiety. Which I still get from time to time but nowhere near as badly as it was in those first few years. My point is no matter what anyone tells us, we are power beings our minds have very strong and power capabilities to over come anything, everything heals overtime, even our minds. At one stage my doctor had me believing that I would have panic attacks for the rest of my life, but that is definitely not the case. I haven’t experienced an attack for years and we can teach ourselves to overcome anything. It all starts with the choice and the belief that we can.
6 years ago there would be no way I could even write or talk about this kind of stuff, but look how far I’ve come, to anyone that is going through anything similar please do not give up, you are not alone, there are so many options out there to help us heal as long as we are open. Our minds are incredibly powerful objects and if we use that to our advantage we can overcome anything.
Please feel free to comment or ask any questions
Love and Light,
The Ghetto Mermaid xo
This post is on a more personal side and I’m writing these posts for two main reasons, the first being a type of external journal to the world and to leave some type of legacy behind, the second is in the hopes of inspiring people through my stories, when I was studying in Art School one of my teachers told us not to write anything that was factual about our lives, instead to make our stories fictional but in saying that sometimes I believe “the truth can be stranger than fiction”.
I have had an interesting life to say the least, I have been in and out of institutions on four different occasions since I was 19. I was diagnosed with skitzo-effective disorder at the age of 30… yep 11 years later… as I mentioned in my previous post this is not a sob story but one that I want to empower people, yeah there definitely has been some challenging times but my inner strength has always got me through and I’m writing this in the hopes to reach out to people in similar situations which might not have anywhere to turn or who have just started a similar journey to myself.
When I was admitted to hospital when I was 19 it was one of the most scariest things that had ever happened to me in my life up until that point. The lead up to being hospitalised was a complete mess which I will get into down the track but waking up in a psyche ward as a teenager was a whole other story.
Not only was I scared, but I was alone felt and intense sense of fear, rejection, embarrassment and isolation, after being in there for a few days I felt like I was ready to leave but they I had to stay against my will for two weeks. I remember feeling so scared and so ashamed at what had happened to me and where I’d ended up that I didn’t even know how I was going to deal with facing people once I was allowed out, sure lots of my friends and family came to visit but none of us really understood what was going on and it wasn’t until leaving the hospital for the first time that the real challenge began. Because I lived in a relatively small town it seemed like everybody knew what had happened to me and although it has happened to many people in the past and many more people we know since then, at the age of 19, eleven years ago this subject was majority taboo and no one really knew what was happening to me. It wasn’t until after years of research, conversations, studying, discussions, documentaries and small doses of therapy did I understand and eventually accept what had happened to me. It was, has been and still is an extremely hard road, one in which I don’t often like to talk about, as not only has it been a continual struggle daily but has also been very challenging on other parts of my life.
At first I was in denial as I wouldn’t even acknowledge or talk about what had happened to me, I would just try to shut it out and pretend that it never happened. Which was very difficult when people who I didn’t even know that well would approach me in public and ask me about what happened to me like it was some kind of joke. I would cop stares and still do off people who for some reason think it’s ok to continually stare at someone for no apparent reason, I’m not sure if this has to do with paranoia from my condition or because I live in a relatively small town full of judgemental / narrow minded people, but hey it still happens.
Even writing this down is making me quite melancholic as it not only reminds me of my traumatic past but it reminds me how far I have come since then and the amounts of hurdles, demons and obstacles I have faced over time. This is why I attempt to write inspiring posts about life because I have seen so much darkness that I know it’s not an enjoyable place to live, I want to help people see the way into the light and hopefully get some insight and inspiration for my stories and life experiences. This is a big decision for me to share publicly parts of my life that I had kept hidden for years, but I feel sharing and shedding light on my story will not only help me but those who stumble across my posts. I hope you guys enjoy my reads, there will be more updates to my story, sorry for the infrequency I am pretty new to this world of blogging so I’m just kinda making it up as I go.
I hope you stick around to find out more but I thought I’d share where my inspiration and attitude towards life comes form and why I was inspired to start writing a blog in the first place…legacy, inspiration, love and light.
The Ghetto Mermaid xo
Feel it out !!!
When I’m going through hard times, I like to remind myself that “nothing lasts forever” and “this too shall pass”. Life can seem like a massive jerk sometimes that not only shuts doors but seems to slam some right in your face. Sometimes chapters of our lives close before we want them to and sometimes people we love leave us without and clear indication. It can seem at times like our world is falling apart, but like a phoenix remember we will always rise from the ashes from the fire that burnt us in life. As long as during those burning times we remember that the pain will not last and we will rise up once again. That is life! There are ups and downs, struggles, happiness and sadness it’s all up to each of us on how we handle the situations we are presented with, especially those of which are out of our control.
“Remember there are no rainbows without rain”… When I was going through a hard time last year one of my good friends would always tell me to “feel it out”.. I was confused at the time because I felt like I couldn’t escape my emotions at the time, but what he meant was to embrace and feel every emotion that emerged during this time for me, the good the bad and the ugly. So I did, he told me to purge and embrace my emotions all of them, don’t block or try to avoid any of them and for that I am very grateful, for although it was a challenging time in my life I came out the other side a stronger, more grateful, wiser and happier person. It’s taught me a great lesson about dealing with emotions, instead of trying to mask them or avoid feeling them… his advice helped me get through my struggles by “feeling it out”… feeling out every emotion that surfaced, it wasn’t pretty and it wasn’t easy but in the long run I am grateful for the experiences that I faced because it taught me so much about myself and other people, that I was unaware of previously, it also taught me great life experiences which I can share with others.
My purpose of my posts are to help and encourage those who have also experienced many challenges in their lives and to see such things from a different perspective. Having had a lot of traumatic experiences during my short 30 years on this Earth I don’t want to be seen as a victim nor do I want sympathy. I want to empower people and help others understand that we are the masters of our own destiny. I want to inspire others to see the situations they are faced with and help them rise and rise and rise again, after we have fallen time and time over. I want to promote and create a space to talk about those things that are considered “taboo”, depression, anxiety, mental illness and much more. Many of such things I have dealt with myself through my life’s journey personally. I want to talk about such things in a positive way and help others to understand that these circumstances do not mean its the end of the world, to look at such things with a different perspective than the often “critical mind” of the general consensus on such matters, I want to go into the depths of these matters and I want everyone to know that is struggling with similar things that there is indeed silver linings to what may seem like dark clouds shrouded in our lives. The point is acknowledging these negative emotions when they arise and not letting them take over, but accepting them for what they are then letting them go.
I know from my own experiences dealing with types of things such as anxiety, depression and mental illness people would often struggle to understand, so here I am to help you and anyone who is interested. My life is an open book and I’m willing to wear my heart of my sleeve and share my story solely for the purpose of inspiring and helping those in a similar situation and shedding light to those that are interested.
I was 19 when my first experiences like this occurred and it wasn’t until many years later that I was labelled with a diagnosis. Labels and diagnosis mean nothing to me, they are just words that are in place to help people make sense of something they don’t understand.
Who even knows the truth behind the terms “mental illness” from my experience these words were formed by Western Medical Practitioners to indicate, dictate and “fix” people that do not fit into social norms. There are many enlightening articles all over the internet and in Libraries that suggest the opposite is the case to those which suffer from “mental illness” I have read many articles that suggest in Eastern societies people with such conditions are seen as gifted individuals who are acknowledged and praised for their talents. Not medicated and locked up for being indifferent.
I don’t have the exact answers, I only can speak from my own opinion, research and knowledge in the search for a deeper understanding to these matters of which are still seen as “Taboo”.
Please feel free to comment or begin a discussion.
Cheers, Thanks for taking the time to read my posts, I’m really hoping to get the message out there and shake these stigmas up and help people accept, recognise and appreciate those who suffer mentally or internally.
Much love xo
Being an emotional warrior
In life it’s important to be and emotional warrior not an emotional worrier, to stay strong in a positive frame of mind sometimes can seem like a fight against ourselves, a battle within our own minds, a fight between the darkness and light, between ourselves. The battle could be a daily fight, it could take one step at a time but the important thing is that we try.
We try and fight to not let the worrier take over, but accept the worrier and let the warrior within us fight and lead us into the light. It can be a slow process that we face everyday but the warrior within us is urging us to try, to stand up and fight and not give up on the most important person in the world, which is ourselves. We need to accept the challenge of the darkness a negative frame of mind provides and say our internal warrior we will win the fight.
It’s so easy to get back into old patterns and negative frames of mind but acknowledging the darkness is the first step towards the light. I have been through stages in my life where I’ve been worried about money or how a situation would turn out and much worse but what I realised over time is that these type of thought patterns never helped the problem that was in front of me and most of the time there wsan’t really a problem at all. What I did learn is that no matter what we will always be provided for as long as we loss our fear and embrace hope and believe that everything will work out for the best. Because from my experience fear seems to perpetuate more fear. But by having the internal belief that everything will work out in one way or another leaves space for miracles to happen and leaves us open to new windows of opportunity or ways of support and solutions to our problems that we may have previously been blind to.
It’s up to us to open our eyes to the solutions in our lives, they may not come to us the way we expect or perceive them to but if we are open to all possibilities then our options are endless.
Battles with the mind
The world we live in seems to be so technology advanced but in other areas of our existence we are just beginning to scratch the surface. What about aspects of our human mind and the power in has over our entire lives and the world around us? The research and understanding to this is still limited at best. When I was younger none of these types of conversations or aspects were even talked about, the mind just seemed to be something that existed within us but the power of its purpose was never bought up or mentioned to me until years later when I went searching for answers. What I discovered was the interrelationship between our bodies, minds and the world around us. Focus on a black dot in a room full of colour and the black dot will seem to enlarge, focus on the colour in the room and the black dot will blend in with the rest of the coloured spectrum. What I’m referring to is the power of what we believe in and what we create for our own existence and what we focus on we create more of.
If we focus on fear, loss, pain and struggle then we will perpetuate those feelings and make more of what we don’t want. If we focus on battling those demons placed on us and fight the dark feelings that overcome us we will be able to create better worlds for ourselves and the word around us.
Being strong minded doesn’t mean we don’t have negative thoughts or feelings or that we only experience joyous feelings, being strong minded means we still have all those thoughts and emotions but we don’t let them control our lives, we acknowledge them for what they are and we choose to not let them dictate our existence but yet we overcome them.
It all starts with the decision and intention to change ourselves and our lives for the better,to avoid those negative pitfalls that we all have and embrace the power of believing in ourselves, it all starts with one step in the right direction.