My Experience with Mental Health

Written by Special Guest - Abi

My experience with mental health; mainly anxiety and depression is not what I’ve suffered from personally, but is what close family members of mine have suffered and are suffering right now. I’ve written this post to help you see how I have and how you can push aside the overpowering forces of a mental health illness.

My earliest memory of experiencing the effects mental health is from when I was about 8 years old and watching my dad be physically sick from struggling with anxiety. He was not able to drive a car, or be out of the house due to the worries that would demonise his brain. At that age, there wasn’t much I could do, or was aware of – I didn’t really understand what was going on and that is where my earliest memory ends.

Fast forwarding to my teenage years and this is where mental health illnesses really took its toll on my family. Of course, being a teenager aged around 13 to 14, I was the typical moody, hormonal girl that thought that the world was against her, and I just wanted to be out with my friends. At the same time of this all happening, my Dad hit his 2nd relapse of depression and anxiety and this hit me hard. I responded with anger and negativity to why my Dad was like this and just thought he was behaving in this way to spite me. In all, this probably exacerbated his illness and made him feel like he was not being a good parent due to his anxiety and depression. Before we move on, I would just like to say that my Dad is without a doubt the most amazing dad I could ever ask for and I am very blessed. Once this bout of illness had calmed down after a couple of months, I was left feeling rather confused and angry still about why dad was behaving in this way, but very unfortunately I pent up my feelings and would get quite irritated at anyone who asked if I wanted to talk about what was happening to him. This is not what you should do, you should talk to people about how you are feeling, believe me.

Since that 2nd heavy relapse for my dad, from the ages of 14 to 18 my Dad’s mental health really improved and calmed down to the point where I almost forgot what it was like to live with someone with a mental health illness. That was until his 3rd relapse when I went to university in 2015. I won’t be going into why my dad struggles with mental health issues in this post, as I feel that’s too personal to discuss and is not something everyone needs to read, but it is thought that one of the main reasons why he relapsed is because I had left to go to university, which triggered a childhood trauma for him. Currently, this relapse is still happening and my Dad has been so brave in dealing with it and after many months off, is finally back to work, which is great news.

Due to being at university I was only told bits and pieces of what was happening at home by Mum as she didn’t want me to get upset or worried about Dad whilst I was away. His mental health really kicked in just after I left to go back to university at Christmas in 2016 and my first experience of this was when we all met up to go to a family friends house in the March. My family turned up and Dad had lost so much weight. I was completely taken aback by it and in a way he didn’t even look like himself, it was crazy. That weekend he was still in really good spirits and it was great to enjoy that with him. But of course, with mental health, there are so many bad days that Dad has. So, when a good day comes you have got to make the absolute most of it and when a bad day hits, you must remain positive and upbeat, do not let how the person is feeling affect your mood, you must encourage them, not dissuade them and whilst they may not show thanks for it, they are feeling it so much inside.

Over the past two years of being at university I have come back for the holidays and weekends here and there. Sometimes I caught Dad at a happy time, but other times I caught Dad at bad times. An example of this is when I came home for my sister’s birthday in February. Over the 4 days I was home, Dad remained very recluse, he didn’t want to talk much and slept for most of the days I was there. Of course, this did make me upset, but after expressing my feelings to Mum, I felt a lot better and remembered that Dad wasn’t doing this to upset me, he couldn’t control it and he was just removing himself from the environment so I could enjoy my weekend. At age 14, I would have felt quite angry at this, but now being older, I finally understand and I have so much respect for my dad.

Currently I’m back home from university for the summer and after around a year of not working, Dad is back at work and whilst he does struggle with his anxieties still, he is coping pretty well and I am so proud of him. The older I get, the more I understand the demons of mental health and realise just how hard my Dad is trying manage his condition, even if sometimes it looks like its defeating him. Not only has his local GP and counselling helped him in managing his mental health, but also charities such as MIND and VOS (Veterans outreach support). The charities are there to help your loved ones, and as carers you can also have access to all the services mentioned above too. Whilst I haven’t offered much advice at how to cope with someone with mental health, I hope from this post you now know that it’s okay to not get it sometimes. It is confusing, and it is quite upsetting to see someone you know so well, slip into a shell of themselves. But do not let this fault what amazing care you are providing for your loved ones who are suffering. Remain positive, always. Even when it feels like you can’t do it anymore, and when it feels like that, talk to someone. Please, talking about what’s wrong is so helpful. It releases bottled up feelings which might come out at the wrong time and helps you to understand better. Show your affection whether it’s to your family, friend or partner. When they are feeling low, whilst you know inside that you love them and care for them, they may forget this, so showing physical feelings is; whether it’s a hug, or a card to say keep going, helps so much as they will then remember.

I’m still learning every day how to help my dad get better, if I can learn, than others can too. Spread love to one another and remain peaceful and happy. Take each day as it comes and always start the day with a smile on your face, it’s the best thing a person with mental health can see when they wake up knowing they will be facing their demons for another day. Be positive, always.

How To Deal With Mental Health at University

Written by Special Guest - Carla

In 2014 the National Union of Students (NUS) completed a survey of 1,093 men and women in higher or further education. This survey asked students about their personal mental health in terms of their education. NUS, on behalf of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG), found that 78% of the participants in the survey had experienced some kind of mental health issue in the past year. That equates to eight out of ten students in higher education suffering from issues such as depression, anxiety, and stress. It is somewhat hard to believe that in the three years that have passed since this NUS survey was completed, things have far from gotten better. In a report by the BBC last year, rates of suicide in universities have increased to the highest they have been since 2007. So, the real question is, what is being done to combat this?

Personally, I myself have now completed my first year of university. And while people are not wrong when they tell you it will be the best time of your life as with anything else, it’s not always an easy ride. Over the past 10 months myself and the other 2.5 million odd students in the UK have faced some of the most challenging changes imaginable to any 18-year-old; finding yourself in a foreign part of the country, sharing a corridor with six people you’ve most likely never met before all while learning a completely new way of learning itself. Not a piece of cake. Yes, the change is stressful. Yes, by the end of freshers you will be a bit homesick, and yes inevitably you will fall out with one of the new friends you have made (probably over them stealing your tea bags). While for some people, like me, dealing with these huge changes was easy, for others it’s not. The idea of having to make a whole new set of friends can be daunting to some and completely terrifying for others. And if you feel like the latter is you, then it is important to know that there are means of help readily available to you; Because it’s knowing what help there is that will help lower the statistics listed above. Its knowing that the places you can get help will pass no judgment on you. Because no person should have to become just another NUS statistic.

Each university has different approaches to what help is on offer, but many are very similar. The university I am currently studying at has many different outlets for its student’s mental wellbeing. Using the university I attend as an example there are what we call ‘residential advisers’ who are there to help anyone in Halls with issues to do with accommodation and living, such as the aforementioned ‘making friends’ element that is vital to university life, yet stressful for some. During our January and summer exam period the university provides quite spaces in which we can rest if needed, as well as fun (what I like to call ‘ignore the exam stress for five minutes, you’ll be fine’) activities such as dog petting, head massages, and even bouncy castle obstacle courses. And what is possibly the most important place for any student to know, the welfare office. Nearly every university will provide a welfare office or equivalent to its students. It is here that universities will provide students help with anything that might be causing stress; from counselling services, to financial help. it is important to highlight that no matter the stigma around mental health, no one should feel ashamed for seeking help at university from the services available to them. If you are struggling with stress, be it academic or something else, use what is there to be used.

While it is important to know what help there is once you get to university, there are also ways you might be able to help yourself before you go, if you know your prone to stress. If you know you are going to be in self-catered accommodation and are worried about having to cook for yourself, learn a couple of simple meals over your summer. If you know there are a few dinners you have down to a tee, there’s less learning to do when you get there. On top of this, stock your freezer with some quick and easy ready meals (think pizza and chicken nuggets) on moving in day so you don’t even need to worry about cooking properly during freshers when all you really want to do is settle in.

If your worried about making friends at university, and moreover about having to live with complete strangers, then my advice is take to social media. Almost all universities set up a yearly fresher’s page around the end of applications; you can get to know people in your accommodation, your course, and even sometimes the few people you will be sharing a corridor with. As well as this there is also often information on what kinds of events will be happening when you arrive, so you can know the best places to meet new people.

There is one last crucial piece of advice I can give you as a now ex-fresher; have fun, because it will fly by and be done before you know it.

My Story

Written by Special Guest - Katherine

I have struggled with depression for around three or four years now. Whilst it has been very tough at times, I am now, thankfully, on the road to recovery. When it comes to hearing stories about depression or learning about it, it is very rare to get stories from people who have suffered or a suffering with it. This is why I think it is very important for people to speak up and tell someone how they feel it will change there life like it has changed mine.

I think for me it started with not feeling good enough and feeling worthless. Along with dealing with depression I also have recovered from an eating disorder. I was bulimic. I would purge after most big meals I had and if I could, I would avoid eating all together. This made me so unhappy. At the time I never really knew what depression was or meant. The word depressed gets thrown around so much by people who most probably don't know the true meaning to how depression can really after someones life.

If you ask anyone, they will tell you I was always a shy individual, I wouldn't raise my hand in class and I would get so anxious to ask for help in a shop. All my teachers, at every parents evening, would say the same thing; ‘she's very quiet’ or ‘she just needs to speak up a bit and ask for help if she's stuck’. This anxiousness continued all throughout my secondary school life including when I was doing my a levels.

I never told anyone what I was going through in case they didn't understand. I would put on a smile and be happy around my friends but in reality I felt empty and worthless. In my last year of a-levels my life changed for the better. I was at rock bottom and a good friend of mine could see that. She told me to go and speak to someone but I didn't feel like anyone would understand. Eventually I emailed one of my teachers who I trusted and knew would do what was the best for me (although at the time I didn't think it was). He spoke to my head of year who then called my mum. At the time I was so angry, I felt like I had been betrayed. But let me tell you, looking back, I am so thankful that he did. I would still be where I was feeling empty and alone. He changed my life.

Whilst living with depression is still a daily struggle, you do get better, I promise. It takes time but it will happen. I am currently on the road to recovery and whilst I still have those odd down days, having someone who knows what you are going through is so important and being able to just say to them how you feel really helps, especially someone close to you, even though at the time you think they are just saying it, they do honestly mean every single word they say. You just have to trust them.

I cannot emphasise enough to anyone reading this; if you suffer with any mental health issue whether it be depression or an eating disorder or anything, make sure you tell someone. It will feel like a weight has been lifted off your shoulder. Just tell someone; a teacher, a friend, a family member, or even a chatline. It will make you feel wanted and will make you realise that someone does understand. Even if you think someone close to you is struggling with something or hiding something then please talk to them about it. The sooner that happens the sooner they can be feeling better and worthy.

I am so grateful to everyone who has helped me along the way. Without them I would not be the confident girl I am today. Things do get better. Everything will be so good so soon, just hang in there. Im going to leave you all with my favourite quote; be a flamingo in a flock of pigeons.

Mental health is such an important topic and needs to be more known. Please speak out. It could change someones life, or even your own.

Mental Health and Our Favourite Artists

Written by Toby

In the spirit of our upcoming event MHz, I thought it would be worth my time talking about those who fit in the spectrum of mentally ill but are ever-present in our culture, changing our world in terms of art but struggling with something rarely taken seriously due to their status. Not only do most celebrities seem impenetrable, but those who are affected rarely get the help they need before it's too late or before it becomes a massive struggle.

There are, unfortunately, a large number of artists that have had lost their lives due to their issues with mental health. There are those like Kurt Cobain who are often romanticised by pop culture, to a point where the fact that Kurt was so evidently dealing with mental issues is blurred out in an effort to make suicide seem cool and romantic. However, those dealing with the grief, are most certainly not going to feel this way. Addiction was a large playing point in Cobain's downward spiral, as it was with legendary modern artist Jean Michael- Basquiat who got addicted to heroin, and at his worst held the point of view that ' they say when I'm taking the drugs I'm dying, but when I stop they say my art is dying'. However, like many, Basquiat used heroin as a method with the intense pressure he was facing as an artist, and unfortunately was clean when the intense heat of New York took his life.

However, there are many artists today that suffer with mental health issues, and face the wrath of the public and media trying to weigh in with their ignorance on the certain labels of those who face an episode. Take Kanye West for instance. It's no secret to his fans that he's suffered with the grief of his late mother Donda West, who played a large role in Kanye's life – with his father being barely around. However, to the public, he's perceived as crazy or manic, especially after Kanye's hospitalisation in November of 2016. Bringing attention to an event like this doesn't always bring out the respectful people who may, although having a generally negative opinion of Kanye, understand what he's going through.

If you're interested Kanye has an emotional unreleased track in the ether of the internet called 'I feel like that' where Kanye lists symptoms for multiple different panic, anxiety and mental disorders, and in the chorus passionately exclaiming that he 'feels like that'. For those of you suffering with anything of the sort, just know that you have something in common with one of the most influential artists of this generation – which just goes to show how common mental illness really is. It's likely that if you look up any influential artist, that some kind of anxiety, depression, or any kind of mental disorder is something they have faced – and it's not always got to have a bad ending either. A good example of this is Yung Lean, a 20-year-old rapper from Sweden who is responsible for some of the most popular aesthetics in modern music, such as spaced out rap and lo fi visuals, was also taken to a mental hospital in Miami after having an erratic episode due to drugs. He later found out his longtime manager and friend had died in a car crash that same day; this was obviously a lot for young Jonatan Leandoer to handle, especially at such a young age but seems to be in good health, with his album 'Frost God' having a much lighter and uplifting tone than that of his drug and depression fuelled 'Warlord'.

Celebrities are just like us – It seems corny but it is true, and just like us everyday citizens, mental health can affect them too, somewhat defying the negative stigma attached to the label of 'mental illness'. In many ways, knowing that someone you look up to or whose art you appreciate, shares something in common with you, helps with the feeling of isolation that can often come with these disorders and in some way normalise your experience to the ever judging public.

A Message From Mr Manning

Hello Everyone!

I hope all of our listeners have had a good half term and have settled into 2017.

So I need to apologise, you might have noticed that our release schedule has not exactly been a regular one over the past few months; this is not because the content hasn’t been produced however it is because I’ve been struggling to get everything out there for you all to listen to. It has been an extremely busy few months both in terms of work here at the college and personally.

So today, I need to let you know that I am hoping that over the next few weeks we will return to normal; I can also safely say that we have been working on some fantastic content and projects which we hope to announce very, very soon.

I would also like to introduce the new senior team we have here at Felpham FM, who have been helping me to hold down the fort over the past few months. Just before Christmas I promoted the following students to new positions within the Felpham FM team - Jessie Moon as Deputy Network Manager, Nikki Mooney as Written Content Editor and Rob Brown / Kieran Quinlan as Audio Content Editors. I am extremely grateful to them as well as the entire Felpham FM team for all of the work they have been putting into the network each and every week.

So that is it for now, remember to keep following us on Twitter and Facebook for all of the latest announcements and news. Finally as always, thank you for continuing to support us.

Mr Manning
Felpham FM Network Manager