Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Review & Signposting

A quick little blog  after the hectic for #WSPD World Suicide Prevention Day.

The second post was written by a very close friend Claire Freeman. It was actually refreshing to hear how suicide and the wider mental health subject affects your friends and family; from their viewpoint. We have both had some fantastic feedback and I hope I can encourage her to write for us again soon. Her post is certainly worth a read and share. You can find it here.

The first post was looking at the anger and rage that was expressed online and by the media as Sainsbury's changed their meal deal. It made me angry that people were 'incandescent with rage' over a sandwich and yet not interested in the suicide crisis spreading across the world. Over 70% of UK suicides in 2015 were men. Suicide is the biggest killer of men under the age of 50. Why are people not furious about this?

Finally, I also wrote a post for The Huffington Post's Lifestyle section called 'How Can We Prevent Our Suicide Crisis?' which you can read by clicking here.

Before I wrap up, I just wanted to highlight something called signposting. Before I saught help from my Doctor, I spent a lot of time reading and researching different aspects of mental health. Last week was the culmination of weeks of work, reading or listening submissions, for the Mind Media Awards. All of the entries I saw were fantastic and deserve a wider audience - some already have a much bigger audience than this silly little blog ever will. The biggest point that it is worth noting is that we all need to do more 'signposting'. This is where at the end of te bog or article you suggest some further reading - I tend to offer my social media but below is brilliant example. It is a truely vital element of mental health awareness, not just leaving your audience to fumble on but to guide them onto other posts or supportive websites. Perhaps you could check out these charities as well as some of my other websites and posts.


SIGNPOSTING - Useful websites and helplines:

  • Samaritans offers a listening service which is open 24 hours a day, on 116 123 (UK and ROI - this number is FREE to call and will not appear on your phone bill.)
  • Mind, (I'm a proud member and volunteer) are open Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm on 0300 123 3393
  • CALM (Campaign Against Living Miserably) is a registered charity, which exists to prevent male suicide in the UK. Call 0800 58 58 58 or visit thecalmzone.net
  • The Mix is a free advice service for people under 25. Call 0808 808 4994 or email: help@getconnected.org.uk
  • HopeLine runs a confidential advice helpline if you are a young person at risk of suicide or are worried about a young person at risk of suicide. Mon-Fri 10-5pm and 7pm-10pm. Weekends 2pm-5pm on 0800 068 41 41

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







Thanks for reading!! - www.MattStreuli.uk 

Friday, 9 September 2016

Mental Health:How does it affect loved ones? #WSPD

This week my blog features two posts. In the first post, I followed on from last week by looking into the suicide crisis and importantly where is the anger and scandal around it. In this post, my close friend Claire Freeman looks at mental health and suicide from another perspective; a friend or relative watching on and the feeling of being somewhat powerless. 

#WSPD - Post Two

As we approach World Suicide Prevention Day on 10th September it seems time to reflect on everybody who is affected by mental health, including the friends and families supporting their loved ones battling with their mental health illnesses.

It is a sad fact that there just isn’t enough support and care available for mental health and yet surely this is equally important as our physical health? The NHS and supporting charities such as MIND do fantastic work with the financial support and resources that they get but sadly it’s not enough and suicide rates are still too high with one death every 40 seconds. This is leading to pressures on emergency services such as when Police cells are being used as a ‘safe place’ due to a lack of NHS beds.

Being a family member or friend to someone with a mental illness is a difficult, stressful and frustrating situation. Firstly, it will always be a challenge to understand how the person is feeling and it’s a big pressure to try and help. It isn’t always easy to know what the best method of support is and all you want to do is improve the situation for your loved one even when sometimes they won’t or can’t seem to accept that help. They feel like they are a burden and want to shut everyone out to protect them but those on the outside just want to help to make it better.

The next hurdle is actually getting your loved one the help they need and deserve. With rates of suicide as high as they are, prevention rather than just trying to deal with emergencies is the key. Unfortunately, with what seems like a stretched health care system, this help is harder to come by. Counselling, GP appointments, crisis hotlines, hospital beds and medications are all viable and good resources however for most are not available when required. It is either refused completely or a waiting list is too long that it can come too late.

This is proved by an incident that occurred on this week when I was alerted by a woman outside my home screaming and crying. I instantly ran outside to see if I could help and found her on the phone to the emergency services after her brother had tried to take his life. She was distraught. I have never seen anyone so scared, anxious and inconsolable. You could physically see her heart breaking as she tried to get help from the emergency services. As she became angrier, she began venting about how the family had been asking for help and support and had continually been let down. When asking for him to be helped it was never an ‘emergency’. That one word made me feel sick. 

My family and I have personal experience in trying to get help for a loved one suffering with a mental health condition. My Grandad battled Manic Depression, now referred to as Bipolar Disorder, for the majority of his adult life. As a child, I wouldn’t have been aware but as I grew up and became more able to understand, the true nature of living with a mental illness became apparent. I know from speaking to family members that spanning over decades they struggled to get the help that was needed to improve Grandad’s quality of life. His condition was always going to be there but there were periods of time when it became more manageable due to medication etc. However, the threat of suicide had always played a part. This pattern of peaks and troughs with his illness continued throughout his life and when it was bad, it was really bad. I don’t think anyone can comprehend just how lonely and dark the world must seem to feel when the only answer is to leave it. Watching someone you love and care for actually suffer in that manner is heartbreaking. The mixture of emotions and feelings for those who have to watch on is incredible. You are upset that your loved one is hurting, you are angry and frustrated that you can’t help, you are confused as you try to even begin to understand how and why they feel that way. You can see all the positives in their lives. They have a good job, a home, a network of friends and they have you. You adore them so why is that not enough? This is perhaps the hardest part. Being able to accept that whilst they do have all those things they sadly can’t see or feel that when their illness is at its worst. You may love them to the ends of the earth but they can’t understand that because usually, they don’t see why anyone would.

In some ways our family was lucky. Although it took far too long and lots of battling we did get help along the way and the care Grandad did receive was on the whole great. He spent time in hospital on the psychiatric ward with counselling and alternative treatments. He was regularly given medication to try and manage his illness. Although I say we are lucky, is this not what we should expect? If someone had a physical illness such as Diabetes they would receive that care no questions asked. So why when it’s a mental health condition does this seem to be a struggle to get and if received it is felt to be a big win?

As a family, in my opinion, we were let down too often in the end. Grandad was the worse I had ever seen him which was extremely hard to swallow when he had previously been doing really well. So what had changed? His prescription. For some unknown reason when he saw a GP that Doctor made a decision that would affect us all in ways he could never have imagined. Grandad had been better than he had been for a long time. His prescription had been working great so what did this GP do? Changed it. We will never understand why that was deemed appropriate. Surely if something is working for a patient, and they are not harmed by what and the amount of the drugs they are given, you would leave well enough alone. As soon as this was done we were back to square one and the illness became awful for Grandad and for us around him. It was the worst time for all involved as every day was torturous for him and we were helpless to stop it. We started pushing for help again but this time, we were faced with even more struggle to get it. He needed to be in a safe place like a hospital where he could get the right support but instead, he was at home. He was a risk to himself and my Nan, an elderly woman, trying to cope. She lived every day wondering if he would be there still as he made many threats and attempts to his life. Upon calling a crisis line she was told ‘it isn’t an emergency’ because he was only about to hurt himself but he hadn’t yet. When does it become an emergency then? Once they have actually hurt themselves and it is too late? 
evanlavine/flickr

Sadly for our family that was the case and my Grandad did commit suicide. At that point, it was treated as an emergency and suddenly everyone appears to help; Police, NHS, Crisis lines. But it’s all too late. I remember upon hearing the news the expected feeling of upset and grief came over me. However, what I vividly remember was also a sense of anger. Anger at the situation, anger that we couldn’t do more to of helped, anger that when asking for help he didn’t always get it and anger that he had done this and left us to deal with the consequences. Of course the anger towards him soon faded when I considered how awful it must have been for him. People say suicide is selfish because of the impact it has on others but I say is it? When someone makes that decision they are in the worse place they could be, a place most of us will hopefully never have to experience, and feel this is the best for everyone. Whether right or wrong in their logic I think it’s far from selfish. 

This is why when I met that poor young lady on Tuesday my heart went to her. Nearly 10 years after my family battled to get the right preventative action I could see another family experiencing the exact same. Actually, now it is probably worse. We have more people than ever needing the support and care that could prevent families all over the UK from going through what mine did. As I watched on and tried to help this complete stranger, I felt I knew her. I really could put myself in her shoes. Hopefully for that family this will be the ‘emergency’ that will get the young man the help he needs.

flickr / creatinginthedark
Overall the message to take with us all is that at some point it is likely that mental illnesses or suicide will touch our lives in some way. For those who suffer with an illness personally you are not alone even if it may feel that way. Use what energy you have to fight and ask for the help you deserve. Try and let your friends and families in and let them take some of the load. You are not a burden. You are their world. And to those who have a loved one with a mental illness, stay strong and be there even when that person pushes you away. Help them to get counselling or encourage them to go to charity websites such as MIND to get advice on self-help. Try and get that person support early on and don’t feel bad for nagging the health services, they are stretched but they are fantastic at what they do.

Prevention by helping those in need far earlier in their illness could drastically reduce the number of families to experience what mine did. Action needs to be taken by the government to help mental health services with more doctors, counsellors and beds in wards where needed but also to teach self-help in schools etc. and really educate our next generations on how to look after themselves and each other. If we can ensure mental health stops being a taboo, then maybe we have a chance of fighting it more effectively.

Written by Claire Freeman

Resources for employers and schools can be found at www.time-to-change.org.uk 
In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. 
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255
In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here 


Support this blog - paypal.me/mattstreuli

Wednesday, 7 September 2016

Where is the Anger? #WSPD

Saturday 10 September is World Suicide Prevention Day.
This week my blog features two posts. First, I will try to follow on from last week's post looking into the suicide crisis and importantly where is the anger and scandal around it. My second #WSPD post follows in a few days. Written by Claire Freeman it shows mental health and suicide from another perspective; a friend or relative watching on and being somewhat powerless. A third post is due on the Huffington Post shortly.



Thanks to BBC NEWS
#WSPD - Post One
Sainsbury's have changed their supplier for sandwiches and rolls. This means that £3 may have got you a premium wrap or sandwich last week, this week it is something a little more basic.

We all like a routine and previously you could get a pretty nice pasta pot, pack of crisps and a drink all for £3.00. With very little warning, today its basic bread and sandwich filling - or pay more. The masses are upset. On  The Telegraph's website, 52% (as of 6/9/16) were "Incandescent with rage"

Many of us rely on good meal deals like this so of course social erupted this morning as people popped into their local store en route to the desk. The tweets are perfect for news outlets who love the juicy words they can unleash like 'fury' and 'anger'.

In fact @RosieProctor_ was 'outraged' that her normal meal was an extra '90p'.

Evening Standard Online
I don't particularly like change and I can honestly admit that if I was a relying on a supermarket meal deal for my lunch, I too would be annoyed enough to fire off a tweet and an emoji or two.

That said, I wouldn't be perturbed enough to use words like 'fury' or 'outrage'. I reserve those words for the big deals; mental health and suicide.

The rate of suicide is alarmingly high, particularly in men. We lose a man to suicide every minute of every day.
Am I the only one furious that we live in a world where men would rather kill themselves than live? 
The World Health Organization estimates that over 800,000 people die by suicide each year – that’s one person every 40 seconds. Up to 25 times as many again make a suicide attempt. The NHS does a wonderful job but we need much earlier intervention, we need employers to take responsibility and when people ask for help we need quick, within days, talking therapy. Even education of mindfulness at school age, before the stress of GCSEs, would be a start. It is estimated that about one in six of the adult population will have a significant mental health problem at any one time, (more than 7 million people in the UK).

The tragic ripple effect means that there are many, many more people who have been bereaved by suicide or have been near someone who has tried to take his or her own life

So where is the 'fury' about suicide?

Where is the anger when patients are kept in Police cars and Police cells due to a lack of NHS beds? Where is the fury when families are told "Sorry, we can't help" when a loved one is making death threats?
Click the WSPD Ribbon and join the official event

In my last post, I highlighted the void in suicide rates by gender, especially here in the UK. The suicide rate for women has steadily gone down over the past 50 to 60 years whilst men have wobbled and remained pretty much the same. I even went on to ponder what women have done to get on top of this battle and how does man follow suit? Is it a clever tactic we can emulate or are men so different from women we have to find a different solution?

I feel a frustration, which you can probably see echoing throughout this blog. Am I the only one furious that we live in a world where men would rather kill themselves than live? How can we live in a world that isn't shocked by this and isn't fighting to put it right? As I touched on last week, things have improved but we are not on the moon yet; in fact, we are barely off the ground.

If nothing else, by sharing this blog and similar tweets this World Suicide Prevention Day, you can raise awareness of how bad the crisis truly is. Perhaps that will ignite the incandescent fury required to make the media grab this problem. Everyone has ups and downs and talking about them, sharing them, is a key role in recovery but also preventative care. Suicide is the biggest killer of men aged 45 and under in the UK. How can we live in a country where that is the norm?

Until we all spark the anger and set this battle trending, the NHS will remain swamped and men will continue to silently kill themselves.

Matt Streuli is a Time To Change Champion and a media volunteer for MIND. He is available for consultation and public speaking events via his main website: www.MattStreuli.uk 


Resources for employers and schools can be found at www.time-to-change.org.uk 

In the UK, the Samaritans can be contacted on 116 123. 
In the US, the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-8255
In Australia, the crisis support service Lifeline is on 13 11 14. Hotlines in other countries can be found here









Thank you for reading and sharing my blog. Every view, comment and retweet really does matter to me and it really can help fight the stigma around mental health. If one person seeks earlier help or you feel better able to help those with mental illness, that's a life saved. And that makes all the effort and cost worth it.

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

We've come far but still men silently suffer suicide

In 1973, security at the BBC took 3 hours to decide whether to let in an invited interview guest for Radio 4's TODAY programme who, as a patient himself, was founding a union for mental health patients. In 1974 the US Civil Service finally backed down and removed the question "Have you ever been mentally ill?" from Government employment forms. Only a few years earlier had the fearsome US mental institutions we now picture in nightmares had started to close after a court had ruled it was unjust to make inmates patients work for free. With the economic issues in the UK, institutes were closed but this was abandoning and leaving people without the education or just simply too ill to survive or thrive in Thatcher's Britain.
A 1970s Office at the Cambridge Museum of Computing

Poor +ashens -  Click for full screen!
It took 66 years from the first powered flight to humanity landing on the moon. The pace of advancement is amazing. In 1976 the Queen sent her first email. A few years later the Commodore PET appears with an amazing 8KB of memory. Here we are 40 years later and I'm typing this blog on a laptop which is smaller, lighter, half the price (ignoring inflation) with 8GB of RAM. In 40 years humanity's advancement means my computer is cheaper and has a mind boggling 1,048,576 times the memory. Our advancement also means I get several hundred more emails a week than Queenie did in 1976 with over 70% of them landing in my spam folder for their 'unique' content.

In 2015, more than half the ambulance call-outs to York university students are for self harm. Tabloids no longer shout about teenage pregnancy rates but instead that more teens are self-harming than ever before. In my last post I explained how some unfair and extremely rude behaviour nearly pulled down all my progress in my own EUPD/BPD battles.
"It’s morally repugnant to neglect mental health, but it is also economically stupid, with its cost to the economy. The fact is, we’re not smart on how we spend money. We spend a fortune, rather than preventing it at the start.” - Norman Lamb MP
Click images to view full screen
Over the past decade, the trend has become more and more pronounced; more young men are dying by than own hand than through drugs, traffic accidents or heart disease. For UK women, suicide rates dropped over the 1960s and into the 1970's and have stayed steadily low even dropping slightly lower. Suicide rates for UK men slightly dropped in the 1970s, partially credited due to cleaner engine exhausts, but steadily grew since creating the large gap between men and women. According to the World Health Organisation data, UK women have their lowest suicide rate ever whilst our men have shown little improvement compared to 40 or even 60 years ago.

More young men are dying by than own hand than through drugs, traffic accidents or heart disease.

In other news... we now have two cats! Video below!
Why is there a gap? How has the fight become so lopsided?
 Or are Women just better when it comes to mental health or the stress of our modern world than men?
Are they better are confronting it, handling it and as such discussing it?
in the medical community, you would never deny a diabetic his insulin.” - Kristen Bell, Actress who plays Princess Anna in Frozen and has Depression and Anxiety.
Join @bluesmudge and
@mattstreuli on twitter
I simply have no idea. I just know we need to do more. Please use this chance to flick back through the past weeks of my blog; you can see the most viewed articles in the left-hand sidebar which feature my own battles with depression, self-harm, anxiety, workplace discrimination, speaking in the media and public and being diagnosed with a mental health illness. Would my story been drastically different if I didn't have a penis? Or is it just that society may of treated me slightly differently and I may have been more willing to seek help sooner? I read the blogs and watch the vlogs of fellow mental health advocates (such as Laura's vlog below), sometimes with some envy at how well they can express and articulate their feelings, story and situation. My GCSEs and A Levels tell me that I am a smart enough person but is there something in my male nature or my nurture that prevents me and my fellow men from achieving the same? Or do we not generate the same response from the media or public? Is this discussion sexist for suggesting that women are better at emotional regulation or discussing and resolving mental health issues than men? I don't mean to cause offense but the evidence is all repeated in stats and graphs all over my blog.

PLEASE Comment here or on my facebook page with your thoughts.
Is now the time for local "Time to Change" action groups to just simply highlight the matter and signpost the options for everyone? Including the silently suicidal men?


Just before I go, thank you to everyone who has clicked DONATE below - every penny really helps. As you may of seen from my social media, links below, I have my first professional feature-length acting role and I'm excited to share it with you. You can see more here: DOGGED 

paypal.me/mattstreuli

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


Wednesday, 17 August 2016

'Standing up to a Bully' & 'Putting a Ring On It'


There was a time, not too long ago, where someone being rude to me and unfair or unjust would have lead me to spiral into a depressive episode full of self harm and unvented anger. There was even a time when it only needed a perceived injustice from my oversensitive mind to trigger all of it.
This post may of taken over a week to write (partly due to my ongoing cough/cold/chest infection, part holiday and part processing what happened) but I think we should take time to assimilate and reflect.


He replied with a “Yes” and slow hand clapped until I left the store. I felt angry, humiliated and mocked.


The story begins at Gatwick airport while we are 'en route' to our lazy summer holiday in Spain. The scrutiny of airport security already increases your anxiety; not because I have anything to hide but rather what could I of left in my bag by mistake. Once through you check the screens to see that the Gate isn't there yet. In this world of budget airlines and accountants making every second pay, the pressure of getting to the gate in the microseconds allocated is enough to make anyone's anxiety pop. You have time to kill, so you think, so you browse the duty free...

At around 0430hrs I entered a large branch of a well known UK Tech Store potted a pair of Marshall Major II Wireless headphones. On the price peg label was a promotional sign echoing the pop-up banner outside the store. 
The offer as worded on their website also appeared on displays in store.


The price label for the headphones showed £129.92. Being a savvy shopper and a lover of tech I opened the Amazon App and scanned the product barcode. The first result, whilst being eligible for Amazon Prime and Fulfilled by Amazon was not actually sold by Amazon but a Third Party Seller. A quick look in the More Sellers showed Amazon.co.uk selling the item themselves for £120.00  This means that I have found the same product cheaper at one of the comparison retailers so I should get double the difference. Right?

I approached the till and asked for this. The member of staff passed me to a gentleman saying he was a Manager. He refused to honour the offer. This is very confusing. I tried to clarify if he was implying that Amazon Prime is a Third Party Seller, which of course they are not. He agreed that Amazon Prime is part of Amazon. The only reason he could advise me he was refusing to honour the promotion as advertised is because Amazon Prime gives me free delivery. Given that Amazon Prime is a service provided by Amazon and not a ‘third party’ I believe it is fraudulently misleading to not honour products sold by Amazon themselves which are included in the Prime service, such as this example. No exclusion to Prime members or products which are included with or eligible for Prime is listed on in-store Point of Sale promotional displays or on the website. 

I was angry. I've worked in Customer Service for some major brands and so I think I have a good understanding of UK law. What is happening is unfair and illogical. I think that's why it wound me up so much, there was no valid or intelligent reason. I didn't want him or the company to get away with it. It's fraud. It is promising something to the public they are not willing to keep. It is as simple as that. Having seen customer service from both sides of the counter in many different industries I know that often the loudest customers get the most support and appeasement. I am not a loud person but I have grown enough to stand my ground without having an anxiety attack... right?

I attempted to explain that there is nothing forbidding me the same promotion as non-Prime customers or showing that Amazon Prime products are excluded on the POS displays. This was infuriating so I asked to make a complaint. I asked him for his full name several times until he gave it and when asking for a Branch Manager’s name he told me to write to “Gavin Wood”. At the time I assumed Mr Wood was someone in store but from research I understand he is Head of Operations for the parent company.
A view from our Room - Video Review on my YouTube!

I asked him one last time; “Are you refusing to give me the offer your display promises because it is Amazon Prime and the posters say Amazon?” To this he replied with a “Yes” and slow hand clapped until I left the store. I felt angry, humiliated and mocked.

I am completely sure that either the Point of Sales Displays are incorrect and “materially misleading” or this staff member is in breach of the promotional terms and as such ‘conning’ and 'bullying' the brand's loyal customers.

I'm angry. I would never allow anyone, whether more or less senior than me, to talk to a paying customer like that. It hurt. I can happily admit that I had been firm and stood my ground. Perhaps he felt like he was being interrogated but a manager should have the training, skills and the intelligence to handle and deescalate such a situation without resorting to childish bullying. We live in a modern, equal 21st century world and why should I or anyone have to accept it.

I power walked to the smaller of of the two outlets at Gatwick North and I spoke with someone dressed as if they could be a manager (not in standard uniform). At this point I would like to commend that person for her handling of this situation and helping me calm down. She was obviously shocked by her colleague’s behavior especially for, in her words, “the sake of £9”. Once I was calmed down she left me with her colleague whilst she went to the other branch to speak with the staff there and retrieve the product in question. We both quickly looked at a A5 sized Point of Sale display showing the offer. In the end she sold me the headphones, timed at 05:13hrs, matching Amazon’s price of £120.00.

I felt some sense of justice. I had stood my ground. I wasn't rude but I didn't let someone bully me. Then sheer panic. We are in an airport, waiting for a flight.

Blue_Smudge and I then ran the normally 10 minute walk to our gate to catch our flight only to be told the doors were closed minutes earlier. We had missed our flight.

Over the course of the next 2-3 hours we both queued to collect our bags, pass back through UK Customs and Border Control and then at customer service to try and get on a different flight. At the cost of £80 per person we then had to travel separately on two flights later in the day to our holiday Palma. This is all because one person illogically refused to honour an offer without reason and then proceeded to bully me. Or is it my fault for standing my ground? Is this Karma or whatever saying "life is unfair" and I am an unimportant cog in the wheels of life. As we sat back in departures waiting for check in for our two separate flights, I could feel that depressive spiral growing even with my anti-anxiety medication. 
I think we deserved the
Kids Meal Pack on the flight home!
I could end the story here but as you can see we did finally get to Spain and have a lovely holiday. You may have even seen the video at the bottom of the post with a ring in it!

In the end my replacement flight was delayed over 3 hours (a window fell out the aircraft and they had to send a replacement aircraft! Fills you with optimism...) so I arrived at roughly the same time as Blue_Smudge. As we were now very late our transfer was long gone but the taxi fare wasn't too bad.

At the time of posting this we are back in the UK, and I still have this chesty cough and sinus thing blocking my lungs, ears and nose. I have spoken through formal letters with the Head Office of the retailer involved who has explained that Amazon Prime products, as long as they are sold by Amazon are included. Perhaps the confusion comes from the fact that some products can have Amazon Prime but be sold by a Third Party. I have not named the Brand or the Parent Company as I have no reason to, I sincerely hope this was one bad member of staff in a branch which misunderstood an offer. HOWEVER, I have asked them to reimburse me for the extra cost (£160) of changing flights and as i only received a 'price match' then I am due further reimbursement to the 'double discount' offer. I hope we can all have a happy ending and I can remain a loyal happy customer.

If nothing else we had a good holiday... except our hotel to airport transfer didn't turn up and our homeward flight was delayed a little bit.
I am proud that I stood up to injustice. I feel so close to actually getting justice. Part of me wonders if I had kept quiet and just accepted the bullying, we would of had a less stressful and late start to our lovely holiday. 

The medication helped. The therapy and support from the NHS helps. The love and support from my friends, family and cat has kept me afloat and given me passion to fight. The person who has made a massive, perhaps the biggest, impact on my life is Blue_Smudge. She understands me and facilitates me. An engagement is in the future but I wanted to make a gesture to show how much I value and appreciate her love and freindship and how deeply I feel it towards her. A Promise Ring.

Thank you for your support - please keep sharing my blog and checking out the past few posts too. Every view, advert click and donation makes a huge difference. xxx 

www.paypal.me/MattStreuli


Wednesday, 3 August 2016

We all have that niggly little doubting voice

Everyone's mind does it. "Things are just too good" it whispers and makes you think your partner will someday leave you. It is completely normal, whatever normal really is, to want some assurance and security in your life. In actual fact, this is a perfect example of how every has mental health and how normal it is.

Some people are able to dismiss that though. Some, like my beautiful girlfriend, need reminding and reassurance to keep the thought at bay. Others in the world can never ignore or dismiss the thought sometimes due to their own mental health or preconceptions from past relationships influencing said mental health.

Click here for last week's blog post
Life in the 21st century is at full speed. That can be fun. However, it is important to stop sometimes and reflect on your progress. Looking back over the past few months my own mental health has stabilised. The 'other half' (girlfriend doesn't make our relationship sound real or serious enough...) has facilitated me to recover further than I thought possible. A few weeks ago I typed with some fear at the idea of ever working a 9-5 job again and pondering how inevitable my mind's failure would be. Yet here we are at the Summer Holidays where I have been working and volunteering sometimes longer than 9-5. Our home is cleaner than ever, even with the paced arrival of her belongings from her parent's house.
“Mental health needs a great deal of attention. It’s the final taboo and it needs to be faced and dealt with.” » Adam Ant
I'm not sure if I believe in karma or fate but I do think that sometimes events happen because you are more receptive or able to engage in them which is why tomorrow I am taking part in a charity training event, next week I go on holiday with the 'other half' and I've just signed the contract to act in a professional feature film being filmed later this year. Thanks to Blue Smudge, I'm even taking my meds more regularly which based upon the small stockpile I have suggests this was another aspect of adulting I previously sucked at.

Thanks to a chesty cough I'm going to keep this week short and sweet but I wanted to touch upon a DNA service which has been mentioned in press reports. 23andMe provides a personalised genetics service where you can receive over one hundred reports based on your DNA. Once they have examined your DNA and given you a report, the data is then anonymized (so no one can know where or who it was from) and is made available to medical researchers who in turn have made some interesting links between depression and certain genes. At £125 for a kit I am very interested to see if I hold those genes but also just what my DNA looks like... although need to fundraise first! Either way it's time to leave you with a few social media posts to browse. You can also look back on my most viewed posts, some of which have 1000's of views, via the left sidebar of my blog.

Thank you once again for reading and sharing my blog and remember - we all have that niggly little doubting voice... try not only listen to it.

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Wednesday, 27 July 2016

It is OK to suffer... as long as you talk about it

I really struggled with what to write this week. Generally I am quite happy. Everything is slowly going my way.
Fantastic friends help bring joy to life

 Except it isn't. Life is full of little snags and I just don't understand why it is these morsels of injustice that infuriate me so.

For example a local road to me, used by 8000 vehicles a day is to be blocked, closed, by the neighbouring council. Why? Said neighbour has been promised funds from major infrastructure projects that need the adjacent land and the road closed. Nearby roads are jammed at rush hour but they are sure an extra 8000 cars, vans and HGVs will make little difference. Why should local people have to suffer for a greater good? Why couldn't a reasonable compromise of new relief roads etc be offered instead it has to be demanded and rioted for? Why is it unfair that those with money get what they want?
Don’t set yourself on fire to keep others warm.
Cats have such an easy life but they
 overflow with love and empathy
Sometimes we have to accept what we have. Sometimes we have to try and make the best from a bad situation. Its hard to accept because life is unfair. However, mental health is very fair as every has it. It doesn't care how well adjusted or wealthy you might be. It never discriminates against culture, religion or creed.

Prince Harry was 12 when his mother suddenly died. I was 13 when my alcoholic mother died. Loosing a mother is a horrible impact on every child no matter the circumstance and it is completely reasonable for said child to suffer and need support and help.

Prince Harry said he had not discussed his mother's death until three years ago. "I really regret not talking about it," he said. "For the first 28 years of my life, I never talked about it."


 "It is OK to suffer, but as long as you talk about it. It is not a weakness. Weakness is having a problem and not recognising it and not solving that problem."

And Talking is part of that fight. The fight against stigma, the fight for free and equal mental health. "Everyone can suffer from mental health issues, whether you're a member of the royal family, whether you're a soldier, whether you're a sports star,"
Star Trek tickets 4 and 5! w/ @Blue_Smudge
Events in my life that before would of been a full on black patch are now a quick wobble. Part of it is how I have developed but the biggest part is asking and getting support I truly needed. Last week I made a phone call, a stressful one too, something I would of panicked about in the past. I have even stood my ground and made sensible complaints and arguments when I have felt that I am in the right, in the past I would of buckled. We have the power within to choose how we fight our battles, whether we do the right thing and work with our friends and family by asking for help or whether we let our fear and anger consume us like Captain Edison.

When you compare how far I have come in 7 months, and how far you have come, you see that some months is a uphill struggle but every step is progress - even if it feels like you've been going in circles. Every day is getting there. As Coldplay said in Up & Up: "Don't Ever Give Up".

Easier said than done. I know. I've felt it too
 "If you suffer from mental health problems, there's too often not enough help to hand. "             - RT Hon Theresa May PM



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






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