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



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Wednesday, 20 July 2016

Why did Mrs May keep that Hunt? AND I made a stressful phone call!

See more of my photography on my
social media such as Instagram
Perhaps it is a sign of my improving and more stable mental health but last week we discussed how our new Prime Minister, Theresa May, might actually be good in the fight for mental health equality and care.

In 2012 she said “I think it’s important to do a good job and not to feel that you’ve got to make grand gestures, but just to get on and deliver.” It is that sort of ethos that encourage such enthusiasm in her last week. My post was met with some mixed comments . There are some of you older and undoubtedly wiser than moi who are right to be cynical and less willing to actually have hope let alone faith in any politician.

Then I felt a bit stupid. While others lost their headline posts or swapped them, Jeremy Hunt was kept in his position in Mrs May's new cabinet. It is very hard to find anyone within the NHS who thinks he has done a good job - most believe he has made the NHS debt considerably worse let alone what he has done to our NHS workforce. In fact it was only a few months ago I encouraged us all to rise up and depose Jeremy Hunt to support the NHS staff who support and save us.

Mr Hunt must be rubbing his hands with glee; surely this is a license to carry on deconstructing our NHS (and what little Mental Health services we have)? Actually, I think it is the polar opposite. I think it is really clever. Boris Johnson and Jeremy Hunt were two key leaders in the Brexit camp which made claims such as an extra £300million a week for the NHS and now they are both in key brexit related roles they have to provide it. If they struggle and fail then it reflects awfully on brexit, highlighting even more 'porky pies' voters put their faith in. Failure to completely achieve goal proves Mrs May and the Remain camp right and gives her the impetus to say; you only got this far due to the efforts of the remain camp like me. If they succeed, which I think is a very hard challenge, then Mrs May can still claim the leadership crown. It is in Jeremy's interest to get the Brexit MPs to secure his funding and rebuild the very NHS he has crippled - even partial failure will destroy what is left of him and Mrs May again swoops in to save the day.

Still putting politics and the big picture to one side, its time to focus on the smaller picture; ME!

I started this blog as a way to process what I think and feel. If you write something down, you can than better view it and almost answer it as if you were a friend giving advice or just a fresh external set of eyes. Being able to discuss bigger picture issues such as our new Prime Minister is great but it relegates my own mental health battle to the social media posts I embed at the end of each blog edition.

There was a time where I never made or took person phone calls. To start I'll point out that I still very much struggle to answer the phone. Even if it is a close friend or family, I'd rather ignore the call and leave it to my answering machine. Making a call is easier and something I have been getting better at. When you make a call, you are in charge of the subject and the aim of the call - something you lose vice versa.

On Saturday, we awoke to the email that LowCostHolidays had entered administration. There was a time in my life where this would of left me emotionally falling into a black patch. Yet I remained calm. There was a time in my life I would of slowly become overwhelmed with panic. Yet everything felt in control. Accepting that there is only so much you can do is easy to say but liberating when you achieve it. Thankfully we bought our holiday on my credit card so the money should be easy enough to get back from them; so much so we have already replaced the cancelled hotel and transfers on a like-for-like basis with a different travel agent.

The reason for the Nelson Mandela quote? There was a time where I tried to kill myself and honestly didn't know if I could survive life anymore. As I hinted in the 'comic book' cover for the last week, our minds are still prehistoric and not quite 'designed' for the chaos, stress and stigma of the 21st century. It was only a few months ago that I couldn't face making a phone call, yet over time I've re learnt and readjusted. I can call the Police or, in the recent example, the credit card company. If you stroll back through the a few months of this blog you can see my condition gradually deteriorated as I fought workplace discrimination, stress and stigma as well as my own mind. In the end I didn't know what my future could even be, let alone if I would ever work or contribute anything again. My continuing work as Chairman of the drama club, the local lollipop man, writing this blog and working with Time to Change and, a key part, volunteering at a local infant school has really helped me readjust and awaken to the real world. You have really helped too through reading and sharing my blog, clicking adverts or my own links to social media and even watching my YouTube or resharing my tweets. Every little action not only supports silly old me, but helps fight the good fight for the mental health services, support and care an equal and just society like ours should have in the 21st Century.

Finally, a huge thank you to all of you who share that goal, optimism or belief and nominated me for the Mind Awards. Regardless of what happens - it means alot.

Whether you are enjoying Summer at home or on holiday, be safe and look after and love yourself and your closest friend. You are brilliant. You can do it.
With your help we can go viral and fight the right fight. It will only seem impossible until we all do it. Together, as one.

Please like/share and support my Social Media





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



Wednesday, 13 July 2016

Theresa May in The Crisis From Our Minds

It may sound like a "B" list movie from the 1950's but Mrs May is our next Prime Minister and whilst every other blog is pondering how she will face Brexit or the Tax dodging of whichever evil corporation we despise this season, I'm curious how she will face the mental health crisis.

In essence, do we have reason to hope things can get better?

Her work history is actually quite impressive. She has served in several Cabinets (the main operating committee of the Government) and Shadow Cabinets (the main opposition's version). At one point she was Chair of the Conservative Party and described as a one-nation liberal conservative. Aside from her work as Minister for Women and Equality and is now the longest serving Home Secretary in UK history. To compare our Government to a real-world business, this means she has been a senior executive who actually does the work the CEO boasts about at your annual conference. If I'm starting to sound rather Pro-May its because I'm slowly convincing myself with all the more research I do.
Anne Perkins of The Guardian observed that "she'll be nobody's stooge"
However, actions can speak louder than words and some actions do not reflect well, especially in hindsight.
Perhaps like me, you had forgotten the pet cat? I'm not referring to Larry the Chief Mouser at Downing Street but instead the cat which belonged to a man facing deportation. It brought to attention the quote in the adjacent picture that in summary, this gentlemen was not deported because he owned a cat. This later turned out to be a whisker or two from the truth. Said man was in a real long-term relationship here in the UK and the cat was just one piece of evidence in said tribunal.

Mrs May, through her husband, has links with security firm G4S which also gained some large sub-contracts from HM Government and Police forces during her time as Home Secretary. At one point the Police Federation described her as a 'Bully' with the curious 'unnamed sources' saying she was selling our Police to Serco; however this was after she demanded they make reforms in the wake of scandals such as Stephen Lawrence and cut the extreme high pay for the 'union' leaders out of the tax pocket.

Just a week ago the National Audit Office published a pretty bad report regarding a 'detention centre' called Yarl's Wood. The report criticised  Theresa May’s Home Office and NHS England who gave to Serco and G4S contracts to run Yarl’s Wood’s residential and health services which ‘did not initially meet the needs of the vulnerable population detained there’

AND THERE IS MORE! However, we all have bad stains in our past. I'm assuming you've read some past posts of my blog so you've seen my trials and tribulations to no end! Perhaps I should focus on how far we have come? A survey by Office for National Statistics in 2007 showed that 22% of people surveyed thought that the mentally ill were “a burden on society”. Shocking but in 9 years alot has changed and some of the seeds seem to be from Mrs May.

In 2012, our Prime Minister was the Home Secretary and she widened the laws on Domestic Violence. Previously it had felt rather cold and logical basing justice on physical damage but now "mental torment" is taken into account. Controlling and Bullying may not be physical but is rightly seen to cause harm now in the eyes of the court.
Read my latest Huffington Post article!

In the last few days, Theresa May has promised to put real workers on the boards of big business to ensure they start working for employees and not just shareholders. Given my personal, harrowing experience with workplace discrimination, this comes to me with a massive glimmer of hope.

Over the past year £15 million has been allocated to provide medical care for those in mental health need who previously would of been held in a Police cell. Promising this action in 2014, Theresa said "Most members of the public won’t think of the police in relation to people with mental health needs ... Unless you have done something wrong, or been a victim of crime, you won’t expect to come across a police officer. So imagine what it is like for the thousands of people with mental health problems, learning disabilities or other vulnerabilities who regularly encounter the police" I find it slightly scary to say but true to her word, change is slowly happening. In February this year Mrs May banned Police cells being used as a 'place of safety' for all Under 18s. In 2013 a report found that mental health took up 20% of the Police's time and it actually looks like Mrs May is getting the Police back to fighting crime and us, the patients, into some healthcare situation instead of a cell. Along with Karen Bradly (Minister for Preventing Abuse, Exploitation and Crime) and  Alistair Burt (Minister for Mental Health) the use of Police cells for holding mental health patients is down 50%.between 2011 and 2015.
Too often and for far too long, vulnerable people experiencing a mental health crisis who have committed no crime have found themselves in a police cell because there is nowhere else to go. - Karen Brady MP
This isn't an easy battle to win.

 As a recent survey from the Youth Health Parliament shows, patients are desperate for earlier intervention with more face-to-face help, there is a still an uphill struggle. My own personal struggle reflects the bigger mental health crisis but I think Theresa May has the tools and the willpower to bring real positive change to the face of mental health and the male suicide crisis. I think we have reason to be optimistic...

If you suffer from mental health problems, there's too often not enough help to hand.              
- Theresa May MP
Mrs May....
Some children wait 32 weeks for mental health treatment whilst suicide is the biggest killer of men. You might only have a few years but I think this is our best chance to save our lives. It's Time to Change and you can help us do it.

As always thank you for reading and sharing my blog - and even browsing my past posts on my own first hand experience with mental health. Every view and share really helps fight the stigma and spread understanding. xx Below is some of my social media highlights - please enjoy and share :)
Thanks again! Matt xx









Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Sometimes Depressed People Want to Live

Depression can feel like a lead weight on your chest whilst a vacuum drains the joy and energy from your soul. Some days, suicide did seem like the best option. It even felt uplifting to consider that I might have a solution or a conclusion for it all. Other days I didn't want to die but I wasn't too fussed to stay alive. To quote a Nik Kershaw song I covered last year; "It's getting harder, just keeping life and soul together. I'm sick of fighting, even though I know I should."
"Self-observation is the first step of inner unfolding."
~ Amit Ray
Workplace discrimination is illegal. However48 per cent of people with a mental health problem still say they would not be comfortable telling their employer about their illness. As you may of read over the past year in my blog, some employers can actually be more destructive than supportive. In fact, that employer exacerbated my condition to the point I actually tried to kill myself last year. Yet something has changed.
Read my latest article at
huffingtonpost.co.uk/matt-streuli

It dawned on me the other night.Suddenly I spotted that I wasn't just surviving to the next event or checkpoint in my life. Pushing myself to reach the next week. As I laid on the sofa, staring at the artex it clicked. I was shocked and slightly baffled. Even though the next day was just another day of volunteering, working (nearly getting hit by cars speeding on on their phones) and trying to do the basic things of being an adult (paying bills etc), I noticed that I was actually looking forward to the next day.

That's not to say that over the past thirteen years I've had some form of mental health issue that I have not looked forward to things or events. I have. I really have. But said events have been a goal to aim for and something to enjoy if or when I complete the battle to survive that long. This feeling was warm and different. Tomorrow wouldn't just be another day of putting on my outward facing mask, I'm actually looking forward to my life and I am actually enjoying it. Part of that is certainly down to my amazing friends and especially my girlfriend who not only shares my love of fun, taste in music and comedy but our bond unites and balances us in the same way 'ying and yang' or two fat kids on a see-saw do. For that metaphor to work both children would need to be equal weight and it would be the dullest day at the playground but ignoring that minor issue, I hope you get the general idea.

  Post continues below video:    Making YouTube videos is a great way to share the fun and make people smile - plus it gives me a postive creative outlet. Your support really matters - thank you for your comments, shares, likes and views :)


I'm aiming this at myself. The person who I was in the days following my suicide attempt. If you can't imagine what that mindset is like there is a fantastic TED talk at the bottom of this post. Essentially, I tried to act as if I was OK and get back to some normality as quickly as I could but I deep down knew I was broken.

The 'Mrs' and I
 Deep down I was worried I might never be fixed. Some of you reading this will be stuck in the same rut. Today, I can tell you that we may never be fixed and I'm pretty cool with that. In fact, it defines who we are. Today, I can tell you that not every day will be an exhausting battle - some days will and they really drain me. I know I'm not fixed or perfect but for the first time, in a long time, I'm actually looking forward to each day and not just seeing it as another battle in the war of life.

Whether I'm volunteering with he brilliant yet wacky children, acting on the stage of my local club, presenting my weekly radio show, writing this blog or just being with my partner; I am happy to admit that I am OK and slowly getting back to some normality. It isn't easy and I don't think my battles, based upon my tweets anyway!, will ever be over but hopefully you can see some hope to motivate you to where I am and beyond.

Thanks for reading - every view and ad-click does really make a difference. Please share this blog and my social media. 


Thank you for your support and love.   #MentalHealthMatters


 
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Matt Streuli is a blogger who has appeared on National Radio and in National Newspapers talking about his experience with depression, 
anxiety and workplace discrimination. This week he writes about wanting to live and what that means with BPD or EUPD. 

For more information on mental illness visit Time To ChangeMind and Rethink.

 To talk to The Samaritans call 116 123.