Wednesday, 25 May 2016

It's Good now... Surely I will falter again?


Sometimes this blog quietly ticks over. Other times, it goes slightly viral. Last week I discussed how I saw my alcoholic Mum, despite the fact she died some thirteen years ago. Within days, partly thanks to Mental Health Awareness Week, it became my 4th most popular post of all times. I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for reading and sharing my blog and website - not only does it help fight stigma and raise awareness but every click helps my ad revenue. It might only be a few pence but it really does make a difference when you have so little income and no support from the benefit system.

Carrying on from last week, it took a few days for me to return to any sort of normality. I've been slightly low for almost a week but think I'm back to normal. Well, as normal as I can be. That normal is also about to change. I know it was only three-ish weeks ago that 'Blue Smudge' and I started dating but its just falling into place and clicked so well. So, I've asked her to move in. Having her around makes me feel like I share the burden of my life - she's so good at keeping track of me and organising things. Before my life fell apart last year (discrimination at work, stress and a suicide attempt) I had been lucky and organised enough to buy and run my own flat which I've really struggled by myself.

In other news, my Z-list minor celebrity fame is on the rise and in a good way too. I've had a few locals contact me or speak to me in person in regards to mental health in education and in the workplace. School Counsellors have been a 'norm' in the US for at least a decade but are only starting to appear here. I went to Chalfonts Community College where, through hard work and help from charity counsellors, I gained 12 GCSEs and 3 A Levels. I am ecstatic to hear my old secondary school now has a counsellor however, 1 counsellor for 1800 students is like climbing up a waterfall. It is the right direction and I truly think that a key part of preventing the crisis we are suffering from growing any further is education and early intervention and support in education.  Given the chaos and stress of modern education is it any wonder when our poor students fall apart at exam time? Perhaps with better education more students would thrive into university than collapse. I would love to go into more schools and speak not just with students but also with teachers and staff about looking after the mind, in just the same way we have all been focused on taking better care of our bodies.

It is also worth saying that whether I am in #LollipopMan mode, or mental health blogger or just being Chairman of the drama club; I am always willing to openly and honestly talk about mental health and male suicide including my own experience - so never worry about talking to me. Come say Hi :)

Notice the segway there? Every Wednesday I have been directing the Youth play. My cast have been working really hard and seem to relish in fun and limelight having their own show gives them. The ideas and laughter have been great fun. I must also say a big thanks to Terry, Vikki with Conor, Josh and Les who have worked so hard with my amazing lighting, sound and scenery. Luda has been brilliant with the costumes, something I'm not good with! I've also had good support from Kiera, Carol and my pretty Girlfriend. The play is one of two being performed at my summer show - one by the Youth and one by the Adults. Both are really funny and have had a lot of work put into them. From my mental health perspective, sometimes drama is big cause of stress. Cast missing throws me and my plans into the air. However, it is always worth the fight as these youngsters deserve the benefits of drama and indoctrination into the big community spirit. Most of all though, they make me laugh my freaking buttocks off! The show is in less than two weeks and you can buy tickets now at www.ihdc.co.uk or direct from www.ticketsource.co.uk/IHDC
Follow the fun on Instagram @matthewstreuli

"A soulmate is someone who appreciates your level of weird"  - Bill Murray 
Before I wrap up and leave you with my media highlights (they are always at the bottom of my posts so please do have a browse!) I just wanted to explore how I feel about trying to return to work. It is something that has come up a few times with my parents and friends trying to encourage me back into a full time job and career. Perhaps I am being a slob but I really don't want to. I've touched upon this in past posts but I'm convinced I will fail. The moment a stressful day comes along I will break. I am broken. At the moment, if I am failing and falling I can just isolate like I did last week (see my last post) with minimal consequences or letting anyone down. In the world of mental health, people are a lot more understanding and forgiving of such failures. I know what you are thinking, failures is a strong word, but it is exactly how I feel. I wonder if I have typed this hundreds of times but, if I was hearing anyone else say that I would tell them they are not a failure and the daily fight against the black dog is a massive achievement. Why does mental health illnesses prevent us from seeing ourselves the same way? Given the chaos and demands of our modern world, is it any wonder when our minds fall apart from the shouting, stress and strain?

Everything is good now but...  Surely I will falter again?

As always, thank you for reading and sharing. Every share and ad click, subscribe and follow, means so much to me. Thank you. xx








Wednesday, 18 May 2016

I Saw a Dead Alcoholic : Mental Health Awareness Week 2016 Special

In my last post, I set the groundwork for  #MHAW16 or Mental Health Awareness Week. I also told you about a couple of wobbles but generally life has been good.
Click to view images full screen

In case you are new to my blog (welcome by the way! Please have a look around), my Mum was alcoholic. From when I was 8 and she forced my Dad out the family home, I was her sole carer up until a few weeks before she died from alcoholic liver and organ failure.

Alcohol has always been a difficult thing for me. Only as an adult do I realise that it was a form of anxiety. My Mum's tipple of choice was Pinot Grigio... in 1.5 litre bottles from Oddbins. 

"How do you explain you mother had multiple affairs forcing your father out the family home when you were nine and due to guilt and 3 or 4 deaths in the family and best friends the mother turns to dry white wine to deal with it resulting in a 13 year old boy learning to cook, clean and run a household plus his education whilst caring for said 47 year old alcoholic who then dies weeks after you run away and live with your father?"

I only tried wine when I started working at a Wine Store come Off License and went on Wine Courses. I found it quite therapeutic I guess to learn to appreciate wine for all of its flavours, textures and the culture around it. It turned an unhealthy relationship with wine into a sensible healthy one. 

As you may of even seen from my instagram, over time I've worked through my issues to even 'over' enjoy a drink or two!

My Mum died in 2003. Yet I have seen her twice since.

This is post 108 on this blog and sometimes I lose track of which disaster I have told you about but to stay on track, today I shall tell you about the second time I 'saw' my Mum. The reason this story is one I can tell is that it happened last week and triggered the suicidal self-harm low you might of seen reflected in my Social Media. Before I start, my friend has been wracked with guilt but there is no need to be - she did nothing wrong - as it is the way my mind or brain processes the stimuli.

We went out to a house party with friends. I had a few drinks and was tipsy but she had a few more. She had a bit too much fun to the point where the fun came back up. I can handle vomit on the floor or whatever but the noise of retching makes me want to gag. I felt a bit unstable, mentally, trying to get her safely back home. I've looked after drunk people before so I have no idea why that night it affected it me more. We got in a taxi and just a minute down the road it all changed. Perhaps it was the panic setting in but I suddenly had to work out how to look after my inebriated comrade (which we all do from time to time!) and appease the taxi driver. However, my mind just went all soggy. The wobbling it has been doing over the past few weeks got worse to the point where when I looked at my friend sat on the kerb, I didn't see her. Just how am I to describe it? A hallucination? A flashback? It was like watching a film and suddenly the actress playing my friend was swapped with the one playing my dead mother, but I was the only one who could see it. Why did my head decide this was a helpful thing? In what way does this solve a slightly dirty uber and a very tipsy lady?
Sometimes images express how I feel better than I can.
See more at the bottom of every post.

If emotions come from the heart, it was screaming in fear. My head was trying to stay level but for a day or two it was racing. It hovered between a need to look after her and a need to run away and hide from the drunken Mum who was going to force me to go back to looking after her.

I managed to call some friends who took my girlfriend back with them to sober up and sleep while I went home. With her safe, I could focus on myself. Thanks to my medication and some haphazard attempts at mindfulness, I managed to calm down enough to rest and sleep.

I did my normal trick of self isolating and in the end used my knife to self harm. I've still felt low for the past couple of days but no where near as bad. In fact, well enough to try and socialise. Well enough to accept the love and support of friends and put on the mask for the wider world.

Depression is like a lead weight but its only for a short time am I able to lift it.

Stigma is all around and sometimes it is self-inflicted. Sometimes I struggle to be brave enough to say my illness is my mind or brain and how it processes and presents events and emotions. Sometimes it is easier for everyone to blame a jitty stomach.

Whilst it is true that our NHS services are underfunded and overwhelmed, you should always feel that you are able to ask for help. The earlier you seek help or support, the more likely you will thrive and even stay in work. As I touched upon in my blog for this year's Depression Awareness Week, the fight for better mental health care has to be twinned with the fight on stigma - something you are fighting now by reading and sharing my blogs and tweets. Every view and retweet means alot to me.


MY amazing girlfriend: @Blue_Smudge
My girlfriend has been amazing in looking after me as have my closest friends. I'm trying to be an adult and survive. I'm trying to fight the battle not just my own personal one but the bigger fight against stigma and the mental health crisis I seem to rant on so much about.

If you delve back through the archive, I've described my anxiety or depression or the wider mental health battles I have as fighting a forest fire. Somedays, I get the upper hand and push the fire back. Other days, I lose ground and become encompassed and swamped. On average I used to think I was pushing the fire back and maybe I'll never have it fully under control but its worth the fight. Recently, I've found fighting hard and now I'm wondering if I'm slowly falling back. Either way, I don't feel I'm the only firefighter battling this fire anymore.

Thank you to my amazing friends and family who have held my hand and supported me and thank you for sharing this blog. Every ad click, video view or retweet not only supports me with a few pence but fights stigma and puts this bigger mental health forest fire back in the forefront.





Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Examining My Depression

My Girlfriend and I after her funrun in the
Color Obstacle Rush in Windsor.
Depression is incredibly unfair. It sits on your chest pinning you down yet because it is always there you acclimatise and seem to forget. As you may of read in last week's post, click here, I am quite proud of my work with my County Council on road safety especially for the children and myself at the Zebra Crossing I patrol. In fact I've appeared in three different local or regional newspapers of the past two weeks. In one paper, I was on page 3! (Click here for Slough Observer).
Whilst some months are busier than others, at this moment I cannot rely on media work to keep me afloat. The same can be said for 'Lollipop' work. My parents have nudged me a few times about venturing out into the workplace but I can't. I don't know if it is my depression, part of my BPD or EUPD as we discussed last time out, or just natual cynicism but I'm scared I cannot work a full time job. Being a lollipop man is pretty low stress but with the wobbles I keep having how can I commit to anything. At some point my money will run out but that doesn't motivate me to risk myself and try to find a career.

"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"http://mattstreuli.blogspot.co.uk/2016/04/the-blurred-truth.html

That all said, I am OK for now. I am OK money wise and considering the low stress and low hours, the pay for being a lollipop man is OK also. My Girlfriend is stunningly beautiful and supports me by caring for me, putting up with my rants hyperactivity and sulking, and laughing at my daft humour. Given that the show I am directing is only 3 weeks away, why would I risk anything now?
My cast for my summer play. Info at www.ihdc.co.uk
 and click on NEWS. 

Depression Awareness is something I touched upon a few weeks ago here on my blog and sometimes I fool myself into thinking how small a problem it is. I mean 'small problem' for myself and not on a national scale. Perhaps this is because sometimes I can function pretty normally and I can smile and laugh. I think I am pretty good at the moment, with some key supportive relationships in good places, yet I still think about suicide. It does scare me that a little while after I've taken my own life you will all forget me. I hope the photographs keep me in mind. However, I, of all people, should know that depression just lurks beneath the surface and how easy it is to mask our true self from the world. Have a search through the archive and you can probably spot all the signs. The key reminder for me is photographs. I like to photograph and share my life. Not for the fame - frankly I couldn't care how many likes an Instagram post gets - but for the fact that it will remain when I die.

Next week (16-22 May 2016) is Mental Health Awareness Week; an initiative to get everyone thinking about own mental wellbeing and that of those around us. This year's theme is Relationships which I will write more about next week but, in the meantime, please text "TIPS" to 70300 to join the daily relationships challenge. The text is at standard rate but the texts you receive are free. This is UK only.
text "TIPS" to 70300 (UK Only)
Text sent at stnd rate. Text rcd are free.
Over the next week or so the Mental Health Foundation, a UK Charity, will send helpful reminders and challenges to encourage you to build and use your relationships to look after yourself and those around you. Good relationships can help us all live healthier, happier lives.

Relationships can mean the difference between sinking and swimming in this life.

You can find out more about #MHAW16 on their website where you can get all sorts of infomation and resources so you can make a difference at home, work and schoolwww.mentalhealth.org.uk/ 


Last week I spoke publically about my mental health and the discrimination and stigma I've spoken about here on my blog. I am available to speak in your workplace too! Details: Click Here.




http://mattstreuli.tumblr.com/post/142569877434/check-out-my-mentalhealth-blog-and-websites



 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. Every share helps fight the stigma of mental health.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016

Things Really Can Get Better

So... That was a crazy week. Where do I begin? I guess where our last post ended.

I was being called a 'crusader' by the local press so getting so frustrated with people breaking the law and trying to kill me, I started filming and posting it.

Press article: Click Here 

It is a tricky situation. My anxiety skyrocketed after so much press interest last week and some of the initial responses as I began have an internal struggle between venting my frustration and doing something about these incidents and trying to follow the correct channels and procedures which may not get me any results of if they do, get there too slowly.
Transport Cabinet Member Mark Shaw
Click here for BCC Press Release and all Media Contact regarding this.
As you can see from the press article linked above, my County Council are being very supportive and I think this is something I can be proactive about and bring a positive change with safer roads for everyone. Hell, if the we can get a method working of actually fining the worst offenders, it could even fund itself!

Perhaps it is my own frustration but what is the point of having laws if they are not enforced? If people can commit crimes, such as never stopping for me, and never get a telling off or a fine then they have no reason to stop. When other people see this behaviour, they start to follow suit.

As the week continued there was a 'Open Mic Night' (I'm planning on editing the footage later this week so keep an on my Twitter @MattStreuli) and a trip to Costco where I didn't spend any money. Now is perhaps a good time to admit that I've shown an interest in a certain young lady for a while now. I tried not to act upon but it had been mentioned to a couple of friends. The same friends who encourage said Lady to attend those events and my friend's 50th birthday on Saturday (again footage to be edited but there is some here on my Instagram).

My mind can be evil. Who could ever be attracted to me? I used to think I was the 'Leonard' from Big Bang Theory but I'm more like 'Raj'! Except Raj doesn't crossdress on stage and I'm not a PhD of some sort. Given the depression, anxiety, self harm and suicidal thoughts I've discussed with you, why would someone choose me as a boyfriend? Yet after some flirting and hand holding from both sides it happened. She kissed me as I dropped her off from our long weekend and then in Brighton, on a day out with friends and my little sister, she asked me to be her boyfriend. Yes, I know that tradition dictates I do the woo-ing but I could never refuse her!

Speaking of weird things...

 I was asked to help 'Time to Change' by attending another event (click here for info on last one) and talk to small groups about my experience. All I was told was it is a MoD building site. MoD standing for Ministry of Defence. I was expecting an old airfield or maybe a barracks that is being modernised or turned into housing. Nope.

I woke up feel anxious already. Talking on stage in heels, even if I ad-lib and ignore the script is almost second nature. Yet the prospect of appearing on 'a stage' as myself is more than scary. I pushed myself to do it and dosed up on meds. Coming off the M4 near Reading, I followed the directions I'd been given wondering why there were no signs and little traffic. As I turned the corner of a country road, with high hedges and farming fields aplenty, a giant site looking like a cross between Auschwitz and a radar station just appeared. It appeared in a way that immediately made me think that if I ever go down that road again, it would not be there. Parking in a car park outside the parameter I went into the reception rooms and bus station. There was a continuous bleep. Every second. That just built my anxiety. It was like being in George Orwell's Supermarket. Armoured vehicles and armed Police everywhere. I probably should not go into too much detail but the site is run by AWE who use it to store, construct and research nuclear weapons. We weren't talking to the MoD itself, but the building contractors and managers building the new modern buildings and silos. As you may of read in a previous post, I visited the 'Secret Nuclear Bunker' with my Father a few years ago and this, from what I could see, was the hi-tech futuristic version of that cold war history. This blog isn't the place to discuss whether we should rearm, renew or relinquish our nuclear deterrent and missile capability but simply having us there to discuss mental health and combat stigma can only help their staff and in turn keep them healthy and at work. Getting better and earlier intervention is a key element for everyone including businesses.

I guess that is it for this post.

Maybe it is my mind but I tend to feel that these are not the powerful poignant essays or rants I used to have. Perhaps you could comment with examples below or let me know if you think this borderline diary is still useful. If nothing else it does show the struggle of someone with mental health issues as they try to rebuild their life, if there is a future at all. Yet, I've been asked out by a stunning caring and clever lady - so I should never complain again! - Good luck hehe!

Thanks again for reading, following and sharing. x x


THERE'S MORE MEDIA AND LINKS BELOW - Thank you for reading and sharing my blog. 

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