Monday, 28 September 2015

Reboot into October 2015



 Did you miss me?

I felt I needed to take a short hiatus to practise some self-care, mindfulness but also to try and accept the situations I am in rather than get worked up about it. Perhaps now is the best time to re-cap my story.  

I’m Matt. I’m 25 and I live in my own flat near Heathrow in England. I have a full time job and a cat. Compared to most of the Earth’s population, I should feel lucky. At the end of last year (2014) I approached my GP after a severe bout of depression. For me, my depression has always come in waves. Imagine low and hide tide, most of the time the water, my mood, is in the middle. This has been a good description of my emotions since my middle teens – some bouts far more noticeable than others. My GP referred me and dosed me up and after many different referrals and consultations, by phone and in person, I was given two slight different diagnoses; bipolar disorder or a unspecified personality disorder. The first diagnoses came from a company occupational health Doctor I saw after an incident at work, combined with stress and anxiety, lead to ansever black patch and a suicide attempt earlier this year. The later diagnoses from the NHS who sent me to group therapy where I learnt some very useful tools such as mindfulness and some tools I’m less enthusiastic about, such as acceptance.

As you read through past posts, you can probably spot the waves as the tides of my mood move higher and lower, in and out. I’m rather pleased to say that the tide isn’t high, nor is it low, at the moment so I feel in control and almost confident.

I’ve used this blog for different things. Sometimes as a diary, to explore and understand how I feel and who I am. Other times this blog has moved into comedy, politics and trying to breakdown the stigma that surrounds mental health. Recently, I have come across issues whereI cannot be completely honest as I normally would be for fear of upsetting or embarrassing those around me or just creating problems. A new example of this is my work. I would love to go into details but I can’t. I can’t complain either, I have bills to pay and I can’t afford to be disposed of. In fact, all I can say is a quote:

But every mornin'
I wake up and worry
What's gonna happen today
You see it your way
And I see it mine
But we both see it slippin' away


As hard as it is, I’m trying to focus on what I can do and what I can change compared to what I have no hope with. As you may have seen from my blog post on www.ihdc.co.uk I am now the Chairman of the Iver Heath Drama Club. We are a small not-for-profit  self-funding community group with 40+ members aged 6 through to 85+ and hopefully late 2016 we will become a CIO charity. It’s a huge honour to be elected or promoted to this role and the club is something I am deeply proud of. As a child, getting to be someone else on stage, just for a little while, gave me an escape from being the sole carer for my alcoholic Mother. Every year we perform at least two shows and we are now working towards our January pantomime – DICK WHITTINGTON – in which I have once again been type cast as the Dame. I love the club, even if it is a cause of much drama. Have a look below and see some of the fantastic dance routines which are ‘en route’!! If you could help us fundraise, either through Kickstarter or the cashback site easyfundraising that would be brilliant. It gives a lot of local youngsters and adults and positive community outlet as well some hilarious show.

I also have some fantastic friends who put up with my humour whether it is silly, witty, sarcastic-y or rude. Having people keep an eye out on you is fantastic. 
LOL at Claire's face!! #RockyHorror
It is like having a mini-family. Only a few weeks ago a member of this friend-family passed away but I think everyone saw this as a lesson to be learned. Helen was cheeky, rude and fun mother to my best friend. She refused to fit the stereotype that society demanded of a woman her age and that made her approachable, intelligent and hilarious. She accepted what she could do and what she couldn’t but even in illness, never let that confine her. If anything, that should be our goal. I can’t fix certain things, and that’s OK, but I can do so much and I should enjoy, revel and rebel in doing so.

To finish: we should all be a little bit more Helen each day.
And as such, here is a video of people being hit in the face by whipped cream.  

Thanks for reading, sharing and supporting my blog and breaking the stigma of mental health.

Find out more at www.ihdc.co.uk and click on news xx #amdram #AGM #iverheath #iver #blog #theatre

A photo posted by Matthew E Streuli (@matthewstreuli) on

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Thursday, 10 September 2015

My Lego Wall of Thoughts and Feelings



My blog is late this week and actually I was thinking of not even writing it.

I have been brutally honest on my blog. It has been very therapeutic for me to think through and explain how or what I am thinking and feeling; especially as the two might not be the same!. I also hope that my honest has at times been shocking but also helpful in breaking down some of the stigma surrounding mental health. It is fine to be honest about myself – I fully give my consent – but how can I be honest about others? In past editions of my blog I have tried to give a vague impression of the situation but with my current life that would not come close to doing it justice; and that contradicts the point of this blog. I don’t want to write because I have to, but because I enjoy it and hopefully you enjoy it, or at least find it interesting. So how can I explain how I feel and why I am thinking the things I do when these things are not my life and not my story?

I don’t know. It winds me up. It’s only a small Lego brick in a wall of my life.

Originally I planned for this post to be about my bedroom which over a long weekend with help from friends and family I have renovated; new carpets, new bed, new storage, new lights and a new paint job. I am really proud of it. 

It was a lot of work but having a tidier house can only help with a healthier mind. However, on Sunday as I stood in a carpet shop I found out my best friend’s mother had passed away after a long and bitter fight with breast cancer. Just days before my big sis Claire has raised hundreds of pounds for Cancer Research UK by getting caked in mud on a fun run and her donation page is still open if you have any spare change. Helen was an amazing woman with a brilliant sense of humour, something that kept everyone going through her many stages of chemotherapy and radiotherapy. For the past few months her condition had steadily failed until she moved into a hospice and then a care home. Rather selfishly, I had chosen not to see her recently, instead wanting to remember her from parties and drama club events and not the figure in the bed. She passed away peacefully with her family around her. Part of me is so glad for her, to be free from the pain of that bitter battle but also that her family are released and, while in the short term I know it must hurt, but they can now have closure and rebuild their lives. I will miss her and maybe as I slowly realise she is gone, it is magnifying the effects of those ‘lego bricks’ I mentioned. 


I can’t tell you the details of my lego bricks but they all interlock into big issues that are making me very angry and sad. Even though I should now have tools such as mindfulness to combat this, I want to be angry and sad. Again, if I could explain to you each brick and how they fit you would hopefully agree that it is so unfair and I have every right to want to scream and smash and shout. Everything exploding, back in my face despite all my effort becuase its never ever good enough. There is always more!

Yet, here I am, just trying to keep myself to myself feeling angry and hurt yet trying to be supportive for that family and my friends. Once again, I feel that I can and should suffer because that is better than anyone else hurting. I know it’s wrong but it feels like what I deserve and the noble thing to do. A chunk of this wall is to do with work – as I have said before I have reports from the Occupational Health and an NHS psychologist. I have been getting legal advice from MIND as despite being open here and in meetings, I do not think overall conditions are better. In fact, with staff leaving I can already tell they are worse – or is that the magnification of Helen’s death?

I had suicidal thoughts at work today.

But why bother being upset? Why be angry? I’ll just hurt you. So I just swallow it into my black hole. I don’t know.
Should I fight? I don’t want to.
I don’t belong here.
 






A photo posted by Matthew E Streuli (@matthewstreuli) on





Tuesday, 1 September 2015

A sense of Achievement

Over the past few weeks group therapy and my mental health has been the focus of this blog. Whether it is a list of symptoms or just my musings on how we process distress. I am very excited and thankful that my blog has been hitting a regular 220+ views a week. It would be easy to dismiss this as in the grand scheme of the 7 billion people on this rock, my weekly views is less than 0.0001% of the population. But if my honesty has helped break down the stigma of mental health or made you giggle then it was entirely worth it. It makes me feel that I have achieved something and that give you a sense of purpose and well being.







Earlier this year I backed a project on Kickstarter called "F--k the game". It works on the principle that if the word RED is in RED, it is very easy to say RED but when it is in blue and you are meant to say they colour blue; the brain sometimes finds it hard to keep up. The way Kickstarter works is that you see a project, it could be anything from a card game to a new stylish record player through to helping a play reach the west end. You make a pledge to the project and the more you pledge the better your reward. In Dragon's Den you buy a percentage of the company, on Kickstarter you get a shoutout on social media through to t shirts or one of the first products of the production line you helped to fund. It means that card games like "F--k The Game" or unique new products reach the market whereas before, due to large companies not wanted to take the risk, they would never see the light of day.

With this in mind, I've spent quite a bit of time creating a Kickstarter campaign for our forthcoming pantomime at the Iver Heath Drama Club. I've written up some information on the Drama Club site but the idea is that 'pledging' £2 we will make and send you a badge or for £30 we offer VIP Front Row family tickets. This way we get to offer merchandise with no risk to us or to you. With Kickstarter, the money is only collected when the campaign reaches its deadline and if it has exceeded or hit its target. This way if not enough money is pledged, the inventor does quit his day job or have to produce his product for those that did pledge but with insufficient budget. We've set a goal of £100 because that would be more than enough to pay for new skirts for the chorus. If we were to raise more that could offset the hall rental, buy a new Dame's dress and even pay for an advert in the newspaper.

I have also put programme adverts on there. In previous years we have had to manually create invoices and chase people for payment. This is a lot of work which one year I did delegate to a certain unnamed person who never did it - so we lost a lot of money. With Kickstarter they just pay on the website and get a receipt by email and we get a simple report telling us who has bought what, and what needs to be posted where.


Have you used KickStarter before? Do you have any tips? Would you be willing to spend a little bit more and get a VIP Family ticket or the pantomime DVD through Kickstarter so we don't have to do it manually? Below is the Kickstarter video I have made, plus some of my fun over the past week.

If it works, then we will have created a much simpler way for everyone to buy our pantomime DVD or advertising space plus a lower risk way to sell simple merchandise but most of all raise money to fund the pantomime and the club. And that is an achievement.



A photo posted by Matthew E Streuli (@matthewstreuli) on

A video posted by Matthew E Streuli (@matthewstreuli) on