Wednesday, 27 April 2016

BPD to EUPD with face paint and a Go-Pro

UPDATE: See breaking news from local paper: http://m.bucksfreepress.co.uk/


Sometimes, like last week when I spoke on Depression Awareness week, I end up on a passionate rant or essay about the crisis we face with mental health and the services currently struggling to cope. Other times this blog is quite theraputic of how I feel or can feel like just a diary of someone with a mental illness.

Credit to Rethink Mental Illness: BPD/EUPD Factsheet
Last week my Psychologist gave me a letter detailing a medical report he had completed for an insurance claim I have. In it my diagnosis has morphed from BPD (Borderline Personality Disorder) to EUPD (Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder) and I don't like it. Last year I wrote here about how I struggled to accept the BPD label, feeling it was my soul and essence, my personality, that causes all the problems rather than the way I process thoughts, emotions and situations. It took a long time to digest and accept.

In England, EUPD and BPD are almost interchangeable. To me, they sound like they mean two different things. Borderline Personality Disorder, at first glance, to my mind means your mind doesn't quite process things properly; it isn't quite normal but its on the borderline. Whereas Emotionally Unstable creates a first thought image of someone being happy one minute, sad the next and jealous the other. My imagination creates a robot with a malfunction Emotions Chip. However, my calm logically thinking is reminding me that either case it is just a name and does not define my future just helps to explain my situation.

Talking with people is a key part of my work with Time To Change, a campaign run by charities MIND and Rethink Mental Illness with the support of Comic Relief and the Department of Health. Over the weekend, I was at the Beaconsfield Beer Festival and whilst it took some time to psych myself up and use mindfulness and my medication to keep anxiety at bay, I had a really good time chatting with the public and my fellow Champions; Alice, Claire and Angela. One man, who looked very young for his advancing years, told me how he first encountered mental health. Whilst working abroad long term he developed very painful back spasms. After scans and examinations the American Doctor told him there was nothing physically wrong and so the problem was 'in his head'. Perhaps a not-so politically correct way of saying it but his stress and mental health were adversely affecting his physically health. Over the course of the day we spoke with around 50 people in total and large proportion were male. Almost everyone knew someone close or had a mental illness but not as many as I hoped had heard of Time to Change - or of course read my blog!

After the outing to the Beer festival I joined the team back at Drama HQ to see how they were getting on with our loft storage clean out. The work they had done was amazing and I felt quite guilty for not being there all day but I guess a virtue of my rank is that I can occasionally delegate! :P You can find out more about my work for the drama club on the news page of www.ihdc.co.uk which I also author.

In the past few days, I received a letter from the Department of Work and Pensions who acknowledged the many letters sent to them but, yet again, despite my health issues I do not qualify for support. I must of forgotten that is was the disabled who caused the financial crash and thusly it is fair we suffer for it. #Sarcasm

Somethings have changed from last week. I've tried Irn Bru for the first time and actually really liked it. It's ruby red to me for all those synesthesia fans.
Somethings however do not change and for me it is that sense of frustration. Talking to my Psychologist makes it seem like anger. Whilst anger is a good word, there is no violence towards it.

My current 'bug bear' is to do with my work as a 'lollipop man'. It frustrates and antagonises me to see people drive like idiots or break minor laws and get away with it. Part of my fear is the idea that if they do not get 'caught' or 'punished' then they will continue the dangerous and illegal behavior which then probably encourages others to follow suit. This is why I do make  reports for vehicles failing to stop for me as a I enter or leave the road. If you are are wondering what a lollipop man is or what the signals all mean, I do have a special page with more info here. On one hand, the frustration is too much; it is out of my control and I should let it go. On the other hand, the behaviour of some drivers is putting lives, including mine at risk. Below is a video take this week by my small 'action camera' attached to the shaft of my Lollipop sign. In short, a taxi stops allowing a school teacher to get halfway across the road. Then, while I am still in the middle of the road, they proceed to drive off at some speed. The video is below with a link to highlights from one patrol I did the week before. If the drivers actually got fined for failing to stop and driving whilst on their phones, that could actually pay not only for me to sort and edit the 'Lollipop Cam' footage but also fill in a few pot holes whilst making our roads the safer. It really frustrates me that people get away with it.

If that frustration is one side of EUPD, then how about crying at Penny proposing to Leonard and they actually got engaged on Big Bang Theory!? Yeah... I cried. #Soppy

Still... Life Goes On...

Video link : https://youtu.be/Aobi0gPqHYM

Thank your for reading and sharing my blog. Remember to tune into my radio show every Thursday night (info on my Twitter!) and like and share the media things below... byeee!




Join me at Katrina's and Mark's OPEN MIC NIGHT at The Three Steps, Cowley every 2nd and 4th Thursday from 8pm!




Wednesday, 20 April 2016

How can we win the war? #DepressionAwarenessWeek

Since my suicide attempt less than a year ago and my continuing story on this blog, I've quoted statistics and recounted tales imagining the world to be shocked and suddenly wake up. Perhaps trigger a moment of sudden realisation that we are living in a true crisis. After a flurry of tweets, my blog and its archive see a spike before falling silent. I'm frustrated and the world just keeps on, keeping on.

This week is Depression Awareness Week yet male viewers of the popular ITV morning show Lorraine are being encouraged to check their testicles through a 'Check Your Chaps' initiative. A worth cause and something all men should do but given that suicide kills more men then any and all cancers, perhaps we should all start to fight that war.

People have been sharing their feelings and views on depression on social media, using the hashtags #WhatYouDontSee and #DAW2016.  Now seems like a good time to collate where I stand.

Depression is actually much more complex, nuanced and dark than unhappiness – more like an implosion of self. In a serious state of depression, you become a sort of half-living ghost. - Tim Lott, The Guardian
In 2015 I was diagnosed with Bipolar disorder although this has changed to Borderline Personality Disorder over time.
With thanks to SANE and 23weeksocks

 In previous posts here I've tried to describe the rather up and down, almost cycle or sine wave type, ride my emotions go through. Most of last week, I was pretty hyper. I was a buzz! I started my new job as a Lollipop Man (click link here for more) which doesn't quite pay all my bills but with my media work should keep me safe. Despite a huge downpour on Friday, its been sunny and all the parents and youngsters are lovely. I even went to see two TV shows being filmed at Pinewood Studios - which was brilliant free fun! - and even sang a few songs with my best friends at a local 'Open Mic' night. Yet, I still had depression. Yes; just because I am happy doesn't mean it has gone. I take anti-depressants and anti-anxiety medication which, with talking therapy alongside, helps me function in a some-what normal way.

A diabetic person who takes their medication, still has diabetes; even if like me they function pretty normally at least some of the time.

If a diabetic person stopped their meds, their condition would get worse. The exact same applies to mental health and, in turn, depression.

Continues below:



Read more on my work with YHP
on last week's post - click here
I don't show the outward signs of depression all the time because of my condition but what is depression actually like?

I start to become grumpy. Snappy too. Before I had ideas and excitement, now pessimism is so powerful I cannot push myself to think anything is achievable. Living from one day to the next in almost a daze can lead to confusion and overwhelming feel that I'm too busy or under pressure even with a empty diary (not that happens anymore!). Occasionally we all like a lie in, but I feel drained every second resulting in my sleep pattern growing from 7 hours to 12 hours; waking up feeling just as tired as when I turned the light off. My enthusiasm for anything from friends and family, to this blog, radio show and even a love life is snuffed out. Everything will fail. I will fail. People are nice to me, remind me how talented I am whether in acting, singing or editing a YouTube video, yet I question their motives and flood with doubt and anger.

At worse, I cut myself off from the world. The pressure of even seeing the notifications on my phone are too much. Just back off! My curtains stay closed and isolate in bed where I cannot hurt you anymore. The only person I am violent to is myself as I mark, score and cut just to feel an emotion. Everyday life, like cooking, cleaning and even washing myself become almost too complicated and frightening.

Depression can be debilitating. It can kill. As we've discussed in past posts, more teenagers than ever self harm.

Research by the charity INQUEST showed that at least 9 'youngsters' had died in NHS mental health inpatient care in England since 2010 but the true figure is not known. Health Minister Alistair Blurt said he didn’t “know the number accurately”.- Last week's post on my blog - click here to read
So what is the big dragon we all have to target? How do we fight this battle?

Yep. Not that easy. Modern life is full of stress. With the recession business slowed and so people were made redundant but as we slowly emerge and business regrows or is replaced, we find managers chasing sales and profit margins, not worrying about how safe, happy or healthy their workplace is. It might be illegal to ignore the mental health and safety of your staff but we are just a Human Resource after all. 9.9 millions sick days in 2014 encouraged the HSE, Health and Safety Executive, to launch a #HelpGBWorkWell plan.

It isn't just down to employers. Some schools now teach yoga to help children learn to look after their mind, as well as their body. Techniques for helping the brain grow and relax as well as caring for our physical body can help them through exams and into a busy, stressful life.

There are plans across the UK, in pockets, to try and get people the mental health treatment they need. Although, a lack of funding and cohesion, means that there is a 2 year wait for talking therapy in some areas on the NHS.

What can you do? Right now? Share this post.

 Have a read back through the past few weeks, maybe my article for The Guardian and tweet your thoughts on them. Openly talk to people over lunch. Everyone has lost a close friend or family member so we can all relate and see how grief could merge into depression; they are almost the same thing at times. Even pop along to a local event; I'm at the Beaconsfield Beer Festival this weekend (details far below!)
You can also look after you, your friends and your family by giving yourself the time to relax, recharge and process the hetic life you lead which when I start to feel low is something I practise in selfcare.

I've written about boxes before which encourage selfcare (click here) and help distract you from those selfharm, suicidal or even just depressive throughts you can find yourself stuck spiralling in. Look how popular 'art therapy' books are! That is evidence that even if you are 'mentally well', selfcare can be key to helping you relax and process the stress of 21st Century life. Even just a bath bomb (see videos below!) can help.

Thank you for reading this week's post and please do have a browse though the last 12 months of posts using the tags to see how depression has completely changed my life.


PLEASE scroll to the very bottom, enjoy the tweets, and click an advert! xx




Wednesday, 13 April 2016

The Blurred Truth



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The true state of our mental health is somewhat of a disjointed and foggy picture. From my own personal experience, I've found an exhausted and underfunded NHS doing its best to support me although there was a 6 month wait to start treatment. In other parts of the UK people are waiting 2 years as discussed last week when a leaked letter showed there was no Psychologist in the position.
According to recent research by MIND 1 in 4 people will suffer a mental health issue this year BUT only 25% of them will get the treatment they need. The number of prescriptions for antidepressants has risen 42% since 2012. With statistics like these plus the 9.9 million sick days in 2014 for mental health and 5100 suicides that year, its easy to think we know exactly how bad the situation is.
Find out more in the latest membership
magazine from MIND.
 However as different trusts work in different areas, with their own policies and councils, the map is awash with blurred education, crisis support and treatment. Earlier this week, research by the charity INQUEST showed that at least 9 'youngsters' had died in NHS mental health inpatient care in England since 2010 but the true figure is not known. Health Minister Alistair Blurt said he didn’t “know the number accurately”.

What is the real state of mental health services in the UK right now? Looking at the recent press we know our NHS is overwhelmed and underfunded but how bad is it?

The UK's first ever Youth Health Parliament are running a quick survey asking real people, with experience themselves or experience of close friends and family with mental illness, exactly that.
The Survey is LINKED here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/6P6JJXD and we ask you pass this post and the link on to friends and support across the UK. We need a broad range of age, location and experience.

The YHP is funded by Google, Johnson & Johnson and LBS with a view of making/presenting real proposals and change to Cameron, Hunt, the NHS Commissioners and Pharmaceutical companies - but we need your help to prove how bad the crisis really is and what change has to happen.

A short post this week but to the point.


 In other news, I am pretty happy. Overly buzzy I guess. Last week suicidal thoughts keep popping up but they seem to have settled. Am I annoying people?  It seems that way..

That said my Nan, Mum's Mum, is having a difficult time with her memory. In short she picked a fight with me on Friday and I don't the energy to fight back. I know it is her dementia but how can I cope.

I've been more active than ever. I've started my new role as school crossing patrol officer... yes... There is a link all about it on the main page of my website: www.MattStreuli.uk 

Last week, as you may of spotted via Instagram, I had my makeup done at Pinewood Studios at the Iver Academy; a state-of-the-art leading make up and hair training centre for film and theatre. I looked stunning - a bit drag but wow.

Meanwhile, don't forget to tune into my radio show every Thursday night at 8pm on SouthWaves Radio. There's a quick highlights video below. As always, please do comment and share my blog and check out the past few editions. Thanks again!







Wednesday, 6 April 2016

A Chance to Change the World - yet I still think about Suicide... Typical.

Yes! That's me!
Picture with thanks to Twitter/Laurenmclcreate
My mind felt on edge. I'd taken my meds and planned my route, even looking at it on Google StreetView. As I walked past 221b Baker Street (which doesn't technically exist) my mind still wanted to run away. "I could just step into the road" is a thought my brain kept popping up over my shoulder as buses past me.  This is the first day of the UK's inaugural Youth Health Parliament. A keen initiative to bring together people from across the Healthcare Sector into looking at the big problems we are facing today and what policies we can find and campaign on; hopefully bringing change and saving lives.

Soon enough I was at the London Business School on the edge of Regent's Park in Central London. After a cup of tea and relying on my acting skills, I buried my anxieties and actually said "Hello". I guess you could call it networking. Talking to an assistant in a shop can make me feel flustered so I'm quite proud of myself. Everyone I met was kind, friendly and passionate - oh and equally cynical as me!

There were some incredible speeches come lectures from people in PR, through to former Government advisors and a panel of experts on the current frontiers of the NHS. By lunchtime we had found two major problems. Firstly, our population is aging. Soon we will have more 'pensioners' than ever before. It is not just a question of how to treat them all in crisis or in a preventative way but also gaining, training and maintaining an already overwhelmed workforce with limited budgets. The second issue is mental health. For reasons I covered last week and throughout my blog, we are living in a time of crisis.
Find more on my Facebook page: Click here!

In the afternoon we had split into sub-committees and it would seem that I am the only 'service user' in the team. Everyone else works in the healthcare sector, either in Pharmaceutical or the NHS. I am proud to have been 'elected' as the Communications Officer for the Mental Health Committee and we are looking at policies to not only fight the stigma surrounding mental health, something I've discussed on this blog before, but also offer earlier intervention. Despite suicide being a bigger killer than cancer there is too little effort into 'early intervention' or detection. As I mentioned last week: it's all too easy for those in power to let patients kill themselves while waiting for treatment.  
 Please do follow our Youth Health Parliament Mental Health Committee Twitter!

Fun with friends at
Alice's Treehouse
 I know I shouldn't be a pessimist, but I am. My mind is conditioned that sometimes life isn't even worth the challenge of trying to achieve something but hearing the views and energy of the speakers and my fellow members of Parliament, I really think we could bang on the doors of power with a reasonable, practical yet life saving change to mental health across the UK. In the comments below, I'd be interested to hear if you have come across any 'early help' aside from having to be referred by a GP and waiting up to two years for help or the crisis support. To those of you outside the sphere of mental health; Yes, it really is this bad. Imagine breaking your arm and being told the waiting list for plaster casts is two years.

Speaking to my fellow committee members reminds to once again thank my friends and family for their support and love. I sometimes take it for granted how horrible it must be to read this blog or how difficult it must be to try and understand or imagine my mind. If nothing else, I hope this blog and my work on social media help you understand what's in my head - not that I do!

Finally my Psychologist has agreed to join the campaign to try and appeal the decision not to give me PIP, which is the current disability benefit. Along with my friends and family, we are all writing to the 'Department of Work and Pensions'. Last week I ranted about how I have worked and contributed to the system yet found myself abandoned when I've asked for aid. In my meeting with my Dr he asked about my suicidal thoughts.

Life is such a battle and I'm really jealous. You all seem to be winning. With a smile too. - Life is a battle : My blog from August 2015

When we compare who I am today, to where I was around the time of my suicide attempt last June, I am very much on the road to recovery. Yet, I still have episodes where I want to die. They don't have quite the impact they used to but I've grown so accustomed I don't even think to mention them. It made me look back through my blog at how suicidal I have felt and why I keep planning for my own death.  To quote that post: "Suicide is the only way I can take control. It is the only way I can decide how tall that cliff face is."   For the most part, it is still true but not as intense a drive - more controllable.

Apologies to everyone who prefers my rants, a little bit diary-esq this week!,  but I implore you to put your email address in the box on the top left to receive a little alert letting you know I've posted. Also, please do follow my Facebook page where I try to offer advice and a different insight which I've embedded below the usual twitter and instagram antics below. Every view, like, share and ad click makes a big difference - so thank you.

PLEASE so scroll to the very bottom, enjoy the tweets, and click an advert! xx

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


How do you support friends and family through mental illness? What messages have you received that helped? Share, Like and make Mental Health Aware
Posted by MattStreuli.uk - Mental Health Aware on Monday, 4 April 2016
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