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Day to day life with PTSD is difficult. Except that is an understatement. *Possible Triggers*

Day to day life with PTSD is sometimes torture.

It affects me in many ways, sometimes I will wake up and I want to do something useful and I feel ready to face my fears and the world, I feel as if I want to confront my disorder and the motivation drives me to put on a lovely outfit, style my hair and slap on some makeup. I feel great until I step outside into the big, bad world. Then I suddenly feel extremely inadequate.

I feel as if people are looking at me, staring at me, talking about me and I convince myself that they are thinking things like “Look how fat she is” and “I would hate to look that ugly” yet my disorder has nothing to do with my looks. That is just anxiety. I find myself fidgeting and looking uncomfortable, thinking about how I am coming across, how I look, and actually recently I have only just stopped asking my boyfriend or best friend to go to the checkout for me when I am in the shops. I didn’t even like talking to people at the till points and I HATED going to the bank. I got so nervous; I always needed someone with me.

Other days, I won’t want to leave my pit. I would want to sleep all day or not open the curtains. I don’t do this anymore as I got into that habit for too long and became nocturnal. Being awake all night made me feel absolutely knackered, I felt ill all of the time and it put a strain on all of my relationships because it was impossible to maintain relationships with people at 3am. Not to mention the bills were ridiculous!

I now have a very stable job; I work in the middle of the country side in a small care home for disabled adults. All of the carers are lovely and working in this sort of career has been something I have always wanted, I feel it has helped me with my anxiety. Especially working with people who do not judge you, they only see you as someone who takes care of them. For once it is nice to be needed, rather than myself needing help.


“You wouldn’t expect someone with a broken leg to walk on it for it to heal. So why would you ignore a mental health disorder?”


What a Mental Health illness means to me is an individual who is suffering long term from a form of depression. It is a sickness of the brain and takes time to heal. Many people do not understand mental health issues, therefore they put it down to “attention seeking” or they just don’t believe it at all. I agree that it must be difficult to understand, but what does one get out of pretending to be mentally sick? You’d either have to be a very good actor, or extremely bored.

Somebody told me that “You wouldn’t expect someone with a broken leg to walk on it for it to heal. So why would you ignore a mental health disorder?” It is the same thing. Having an illness to the mind is not something you can self-medicate and it takes a lot of time, effort and patience. I believe that someone to come out the other side will come out of it being stronger than when they went into it. You do have to find the motivation and often you’ll find that it has to get worse before it gets better, but in the long run it is worth it and becomes rewarding. For the first time in my life, I have started to like the person I have wanted to become and I think that it has come from having PTSD. If I could change what happened to me in order for me to unfortunately suffer from my disorder, of course I would. But it also changed me into a better person. It taught me to confront my problems and to trust people! Not everyone is going to hurt you.

People should be more open and honest about their illness because although at first it may be awkward and some people will not know how to react to knowing, society would slowly accept that everyone knows at least one person to suffer from depression or a mental sickness, yet they would never know. Surely that goes to show that people who live with disorders are just as “normal” as the rest of the world? Sometimes I think we are friendlier than the rest of the world.


 “I told people that I was fine when all I needed was a friendly hug or a chat…”

It is up to us, as individuals and as a group, to teach the ignorant and the unknown that there is nothing to be afraid of.
I personally dealt with PTSD and depression in many ways, I had to suffer in silence before figuring out that I couldn’t do it alone, I know that is often the case with most of us. First I have tried dealing with it in the wrong manner, I turned to drink. It didn’t help and I was ridiculous to think it would! I would wake up around 11am drink until I fell asleep again, woke up in the evening, had a shower and something to eat and then go out drinking all night again with friends. Or I stayed in with friends and drank until I passed out. Did it make me forget? I think I made myself think it did. Obviously I felt disgusting and I wasn’t physically healthy as well as my mental health being under a lot of stress. I slowly gave up and was encouraged by my partner to stop using substance abuse as a way out. I’m glad that I listened to his advice.

I also chose to never talk to anybody; this even involved my boyfriend for a long time. I couldn’t bear the thought of putting my trust into someone that could destroy the trust even more, so I pretended to feel nothing. I told people that I was fine when all I needed was a friendly hug or a chat, it took me years of training to hold back words from other humans. It took its toll on me because now I cannot talk to anybody in my personal life about anything serious when I wish that I could. But I am slowly learning to change this, another reason why Minds Like Ours instantly became close to my heart.

I also self-harmed, there isn’t much to say about that. I self-harmed for eight years and sometimes I have to stop myself from picking the object up when someone has emotionally hurt me. All I can try to do is explain why I did it, and that is because I felt like the physical pain would over-power the emotional pain and it would release the emotional pain from my system. Did it work? Yes. For about five minutes. I then felt worse weeks afterwards and now I have to live with scars on the top of my arms which some people have noticed, and it is not worth it when you live a happier life. It drags you down and I wouldn’t ever want anybody to turn to that stupid decision.


“I have almost lost people because I just didn’t want to talk to them about my problems…”

I pushed people away, I was best friends with my boyfriend before we started dating and although I trusted him, as well as my other best friend, I just couldn’t allow them to be part of my personal life. They would know I was struggling, it didn’t take a genius. Someone who has self-harm scars, who hadn’t lived with their parents since they were sixteen and drinking every day… come on, that is a person who has problems. Yet I acted like I was the happiest person on the planet, they could sometimes see that I was close to tears but I would walk out of that situation, go for a long walk and come back happy (even more drunk) and without a care in the world. They could see through it.

I have almost lost people because I just didn’t want to talk to them about my problems, I couldn’t understand why people minded that I was so “mysterious”, a word that has been used to describe me by many people. Why couldn’t they just accept me as this fun, party animal? I guess because they cared and they knew it was an act.

Since confiding in my boyfriend of two years, he now knows many things about me and of course it is nice that I have finally been able to let someone in (although I wrote it all down to him, was a start!) I still feel terrified that if one day, God forbid, we didn’t work out… I have put my trust into someone who would no longer be a permanent fixture of my life. I don’t think I could trust anyone again and that scares me, it took all my life to trust one person.

But anyway, the correct way of dealing with things was to not put pressure on myself. I let the process take time, I didn’t jump straight into therapy, talking to people, etc.. I needed to accept that I was depressed and that I was suffering from PTSD before my journey begun. So after visiting my doctor, who first of all told me to change my lifestyle and diet I thought to myself that there was no point even trying to talk to anybody again because it took all of my courage to confront my mental health disorder, yet the first professional I had spoken to, seemed to not believe me. This is why MLO is important, one word: Stigma.

We have all been there. Every person I have spoken to with a mental health sickness, has had at least ONE person tell you that you are fine, or there are simple solutions such as exercise and diets to help you recover. I know how much that hurts; because it could take someone years to ask for help, yet such crap feedback from a so-called professional or loved one could push us all the way back to the start. Thanks a bunch.

“We need mental-help such as therapy and even medication. This is nothing to be ashamed of…”

I decided to get a routine, eat healthily and join a gym. Did I feel better? Physically yes. But mentally? Of course not. There is nothing you could do physically that will cure your mental state. We need mental-help such as therapy and even medication. This is nothing to be ashamed of; at least we are confronting our problems by taking these measures! I am sure that if we could all take a happy pill that would work in one go, we would all give it a shot! Sadly not realistic is it?

So I went back to the doctors, this time with another GP and thank goodness, she was caring and helpful. She was informative and actually diagnosed me there and then with PTSD (I already knew but was happy to have the confirmation) and she helped me receive Therapy within a couple of months. I had slip ups here and there, I self-harmed still on occasion but I am happy to say that I have not done that now for around nine months, I don’t even want to anymore!

Therapy was amazing and instead of constantly talking about events that have occurred in my life, or problems that cause me to become distressed, we learnt about the brain and how it works and how to control parts of it to begin getting better. Of course, I did have to talk about why I had PTSD and depression but I strangely felt ready by my third session, which is amazing considering I had only ever told one person and that took me years.

Unfortunately I have not been able to attend for a couple of months now due to a busy work schedule and studying for my senior diploma but it has not made me lose hope, I haven’t given up all together with therapy. But it did help me to overcome certain fears and to control my anger. I don’t remember the last time I felt properly angry. When I start to feel impatient I simply take myself out of a situation for a couple of minutes and “review” how I am feeling and how to come out of it in a positive manner. Sure it sounds like hard work, but after a while it becomes normal and you forget to even feel anger if you know what I mean? It is working for me.


So what is PTSD?

Perhaps I should have started with this but I think It was important to forget the main facts of my disorder for a few moments and focus on how I am living with it.

PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is an anxiety disorder that some people get after seeing or living through a dangerous, life-changing event.
When in danger, it’s natural to feel scared. This fear triggers many split-second changes in the body to prepare to defend against the danger or to avoid it. But in PTSD, this reaction is changed or damaged. People who have PTSD may feel stressed or frightened even when they’re no longer in danger. Which is why I actually suffer from flash backs occasionally, a very scary experience which I don’t think anybody could quite imagine unless they have been through it themselves.

Who gets PTSD?

Anyone can get PTSD at any age. This includes war veterans and survivors of physical and sexual assault, abuse, accidents, disasters, and many other serious events.
Not everyone with PTSD has been through a dangerous event. Some people get PTSD after a friend or family member experiences danger or is harmed. The sudden, unexpected death of a loved one can also cause PTSD.

What are the symptoms of PTSD?

PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three categories:

1. Re-experiencing symptoms:

  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts.

Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.

2. Avoidance symptoms:

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
  • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

3. Hyperarousal symptoms:

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.

Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic event. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.
It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.
I have taken the above information from the website http://www.nimh.nih.gov for a more informative and open selection of symptoms because obviously I may miss some of them out because every person with PTSD has different symptoms. This website is very informative and I would recommend to anybody who would like to learn more about PTSD or any other mental health disorder.

So there it is, I am far from being “better” but at the moment I am taking baby steps and although I may come across quiet on MLO, this is not only because I am rather busy but it is difficult for me to engage with strangers especially about such a sensitive subject. So please be patient with me, because I am overcoming my own fears and obstacles at the moment, but I am learning to be the person I know I can be and just taking one step at the time, not putting pressure on myself and generally trying to be a happier person. Thanks for taking the time to read this long blog and I look forward to writing more in the future.


Blog by Coco – (Minds Like Ours Team Member)

An Introduction to Rebecca, 21, Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (EDNOS) and Depression

Let’s get started. My name is Rebecca, I am 21 and live in Hampshire. If everything in life could go my way, I would drink expensive coffee and Relentless all day, sat on the beach with the wind in my hair, headphones in my ears and my head in a book. Unfortunately, I can’t have all of those things at once very often.

When it comes to talking about what I suffer from I find it difficult to know. Currently I am classified as suffering from EDNOS (Eating Disorder Not Otherwise Specified) as I am slowly recovering from Anorexia and Bulimia – two friendly faced daemons that crept up on me when I was 18. What I do know is that I although I am considered mainly recovered, eating is still a struggle and I slip up occasionally, that’s something I can’t deny. I had some great treatment at a day centre and met a fantastic group of people sharing my daily struggles and it made me realise how important it was to not feel isolated from others; part of the reason I’m so enthusiastic about Minds Like Ours.

As well as my eating disorder I suffer from depression and self-harm and have done from when I was 17. It’s been a bumpy road (very literally), with highs and devastating lows that have brought me to rock bottom. Due to the cycle of highs and lows it is being investigated if I have Bipolar Type II, but the process is slow and means that it could take a long time to have the medication changes that I need.

I received great care whilst at university and saw a wonderful psychiatrist who I can’t thank enough for the care and support he has shown to me. The treatment team who pulled me up from my worst point with my Anorexia/Bulimia were excellent, even though at the time I hated them and regularly cried at lunch over a peanut butter sandwich.

At the moment I have just been transferred over to my local CMHT as I have finished university. It’s been a battle to see anyone, despite the insistent calls and emails sent by the psychiatrist I saw at University. I’ve been to A&E twice in two weeks for overdosing since returning home and progress is still painfully slow. I’m told I’ll have bi-weekly appointments but to get through each day is a battle … two weeks simply feels too far away.

Throughout it all my mum and twin sister have been wonderfully supportive as has my current boyfriend and ex-boyfriend of 4 and a half years. I feel so lucky to have their support but depression has engulfed all light at the end of the tunnel and I feel like a ticking time bomb. It’s such a shame that the NHS doesn’t seem to be interested in helping me to turn back on the light.


Blog post by Rebecca92

Trigger Warning – An Introduction to Andy, 25, Bipolar Type II

Hello internets! I’m Andy. I’m 25, I live in my hometown of Belfast, Northern Ireland. I’m writing this blog for Minds Like Ours to give some insight into the life of someone with a long-term mental health problem. I first received treatment for mental health problems aged 17, was admitted to the caseload of a Crisis Response team aged 19 and have been receiving treatment to what my psychiatrist has recently identified as Bipolar Disorder Type II since I was 20. This is my story.

It’s very important that I emphasize that I’ll be discussing things later in this blog that some may find triggering or upsetting. Please take care of yourself first and foremost and read on with caution.

The hardest thing about writing this blog is knowing which world to situate it in. As a sufferer of Bipolar Type II, I’ve lived in three. The normal world of my unremarkable childhood and increasingly unstable adolescence, the hellish world I lived in when I became dangerously unbalanced and eventually suicidal, and the third world, after treatment and diagnosis- the mundane life of trying to recover from traumatic experiences caused by this illness and trying to prevent the next episode. Once you realize that you have a long term mental health condition you do step into what feels like a parallel universe. Everything is so similar to how its always was, and yet everything has subtly changed forever.

So, if I’m to write a blog to convey the reality of my illness- which world do I write about? The crisis or the slow recovery? Its very hard to write anything about my life subsequent to my breakdown and recovery for an audience who don’t know the context of whats gone before. Because where I am now is down to what happened to me, and where I am now is what happens to people who go through the kind of thing I went through before I got the right treatment. And as hard as it is sometimes in many ways my life represents the best case scenario- I’ve been exceptionally lucky. So in this blog, let me explain how my life reached crisis point before I got the help I needed.

For people with undiagnosed bipolar disorder there is help out there but so, so many slip through the net in the UK because YOU have to know whats wrong with you and even then you’ll probably be dismissed by doctors as having self-diagnosed. Its really very hard to get seen by a mental health specialist until you reach crisis point. Early intervention comes from rank and file GPs but unless you have an exceptional GP he won’t be able to identify this at first glance, especially if you present in a depressive state. Someone with bipolar depression is very hard to distinguish from someone with unipolar depression when presenting as depressed and it seems many doctors don’t screen for bipolar warning signs in patients presenting with depression, either out of ignorance or due to a lack of time. Indeed many GPs are out of their depth when it comes to mental health and simply have a one-size fits all approach to anyone with depressive symptoms- nod sympathetically, prescribe fluoxetine. Thats the response I got when I sought help- and it was the exactly the worst thing that could have happened.

Away from my family at University in Edinburgh and quite isolated socially, I simply didn’t know what was happening. Sometimes I felt euphoric, powerful and super-capable. I didn’t need as much sleep and I didn’t need to eat. Other times… crushingly low, reduced to weeping for days and feeling unable to leave my room and socialize with flatmates. But I only sought help for the lows, and was prescribed fluoxetine which ultimately made me more unstable and inclined towards suicide. I was bad before, I had self-harmed before, but until I started on prozac I wasn’t suicidal. The anti-depressants brought the situation to a head.

It would never have occurred to me to seek help for the highs. They weren’t severe enough to really grab attention (no spending sprees, no impulsive sexual liaisons) and at that stage not long enough to fit into the DSMVs very strict definition of hypomanic episodes- and I didn’t feel like I needed help when I felt that way. But in hindsight had they come up in conversation with the doctors who treated me for depression they may have rung some warning bells and perhaps much of what followed could have been avoided. One night I remember leaving a bar at 4am and realizing I had nowhere to go but home (I had embarked on an epic bender because, well, I was just feeling like that was the way to go). Too wired too sleep I hailed a taxi and headed to Portobello Beach. I chatted impulsively to the driver and when we arrived I gave him a £20 tip apropos of nothing, which happened to be all the cash I had on me. When I reached the sand I took off my shoes, I drank in the night air and I ran. I ran for two hours, barefoot along the beach in those small hours of the day until my body gave up. As the city slept I ran, I ran, and I felt like a God. On the long walk home, as the sun came up, I felt like nothing could ever hurt me.

But I was so, so wrong about that. All this time, against the backdrop of my increasingly violent mood swings, a distance was forming between myself and my flatmates. My behavior became increasingly erratic- one night anti-social and withdrawn to the point of rudeness, the next frighteningly intense. I couldn’t see it at the time but they were afraid. They could see something was happening to me, and they could see that I was a suicide risk. They didn’t know how to handle it, what to do. They were just children, all in their late teens, and like all children facing the crueler aspects of this world they were frightened.

Things came to a head faster than I could possibly have imagined. They asked me to move out immediately. For me, it was the last straw. The only stable thing I had left in my life was that I had a roof over my head. Once that was gone, something inside me broke. I grabbed a knife and they ran away, perhaps imagining I had some other target in my mind- they needn’t have feared. The only person I was going to turn it on was myself.

I had never planned to kill myself with a knife and while I was suicidal I was in a state of panic. Not thinking clearly I didn’t cut my wrists but instead drove the blade into my leg and then my stomach. The order of that is very important. The first stab wound was the deepest, in my thigh, but thats not a life threatening wound. By the time I was trying to drive the knife into my stomach my body was going into shock- I was weak, too weak to do any real damage. Had I stabbed myself in the stomach first, the situation could have ended tragically. Instead I ended up with a fairly innocuous leg wound, covered in blood lying on the floor of our shared kitchen. Thats where the Police found me.

You see, I realize now that my flatmates saved my life because they called 999- and crucially asked for the Police, not an ambulance. Their involvement was to prove crucial. When the police found me they called an ambulance but ultimately it was the police that saved me, not the NHS. I was rushed to hospital and my wounds were treated but like many who are treated at A&E who self-harm and/or attempt suicide I was discharged without being referred to a psychiatrist due to a lack of appropriate resources. Had I been allowed to walk out the Hospital door with nowhere to go I have no doubt I would have ended my own life that night so the involvement of the Police was critical. They arrested me, strip searched me, locked me in a cell over night in a padded suit, brought me cups of tea and called my parents. They recognized I was a danger to myself and prevented me from making a terrible, terrible mistake.

If the details of my night in the cells sound harsh and traumatizing its because they were. That said, I credit it with saving my life simply because it gave everyone time to react. The support network I had distanced myself from sprung into action. My Dad was on the next flight to Edinburgh and the Police released me into his custody. Numb, broken and still a suicide risk I ended up back in Northern Ireland within 24 hours. My parents then took over fighting for me to get the treatment I needed- I was admitted to the Crisis Management Unit of my local Community Mental Health Team and they guided me through the immediate danger and through to the other side. The next few months were incredibly tough both on me and on my whole family, but they rallied to my side. A strong support network is so crucial and is exactly what I was missing in Edinburgh. A combination of the right medical care and the love and support of my family saw me slowly come back to life. A long and painful journey- I’ve barely been able to get the tiniest bit of it across here.

Like I said at the start, after recovering from an incident like this, the world you come back to is different in many subtle ways. I’ll never again know what it’s like to be normal. Even after recovering, a lot of my everyday life is influenced by this illness I have. I’ve had to give up coffee, alcohol and all recreational drugs because of the pronounced effect they have on my fragile brain chemistry. After being prescribed seroquel and switched to an anti-depressant that doesn’t have the same awful side effects as prozac my moods are more stable and predictable, although there are still disruptive relapses and difficult days and weeks- not to mention the side effects which I struggle with every day. You do feel drugged and like a zombie on anti-psychotics a lot of the time, so why do I persist in taking them? Because since starting them I’ve been able to achieve a number of goals since my time in Edinburgh came to a crashing full stop. Just 9 months after that night I went back to University in Belfast for a fresh start in Higher Education and completed my degree in three years- I went on to study for an MA and achieved a Distinction, the top grade band. All this with a seroquel hangover every morning…

There are still a lot of obstacles and difficulties in my path but I’ve proven to myself that I can succeed in spite of them rather than fail because of them. There are no real happy endings with Bipolar. I’ve proven that you can accomplish things, you can be successful, but there’s never any magic cure that will prevent relapses. You will still suffer and you will still relapse but over time, with the right medical support, you can learn how to handle those better and minimize the damage those episodes cause.

The real issue is that to get the right medical support, I needed to reach a crisis point which I might not have walked away from. I was lucky that events panned out in such a way that I did get the help I needed but not everyone is as lucky as me- yet so many people only even having a chance of seeing a specialist once they reach that crisis point. Early intervention often results in the best outcomes for patients yet we have a system which only kicks in once the situation has become life-threatening. If we are to reduce the suicide rate in this country, that needs to change.

Where do you go for help?

We do our best at Minds Like Ours to support one another on the forums, however it is important to remember that we are not professionals. We are all just like you, living with a mental health disorder.

Sometimes you may need professional help, advice or just to chat. We’ve put together a list of helplines and other useful contacts that can help you when you’re feeling low. This list is growing every day, so please feel free to contact us about any that you think are missing.

Click HERE to be taken to our helplines page.


Feel like something is missing? Let us know in the comments and we’ll get it included!

An Introduction to Sam… Anxiety, depression and obsessive behaviour

My name is Sam and I am middle aged. I love to blog, so when the opportunity to blog about one of my favourite subjects (Me. My other favourite subjects include Unicorn riding squirrels monkey glitter, but we will cover those another time) came up of course I jumped at it. I suffered with Anorexia as a teenager which progressed to Bulimia and can still on occasions creep up on me even today. I have anxiety, depression and obsessive behaviour. You would think by being obsessive I would at least have a spotless home to my credit? Well you would be wrong. My house is a tip. On the plus side, if I suffer a momentary lapse in memory and forget what day it is, I only need to check the colour of my socks. For example, today its pink and black so I know it’s Friday.

I had my last major bout of depression last summer, with no obvious trigger. I was completely exhausted and struggled to get out of bed most days. The inability to do the most basic of tasks and things which I would normally do without a second thought, really started to take its toll and I reached the bottom of the black hole. Although I initially had some medication, it turned me into a bit of a zombie so I stopped taking it after 5 months.

Forward to this year and I now know that my depression was a symptom of chronic fatigue. I control my symptoms via good nutrition and listening to what my body is telling me when I push myself too hard. This of course doesn’t work for everyone, but for me, at this moment in time it is working perfectly. Despite all this, I still tend to be a ‘glass half full’ kind of person and try to find a positive in most of my issues. For example, over the years I have gained diplomas in Nutrition and Nutritional Therapy. These only really came about as a result of my obsessing about calories and the like due to my eating disorders.

Last year I started my own blog, which was the perfect platform for my bizarre sense of humour. I never underestimate the power of laughter and I think being able to laugh at myself is one of the things which keep me going! Through the wonders of the blogosphere, I have made some wonderful, lifelong friends. Every one of us damaged but still perfect in our own way.

I got involved with Minds like ours to help raise awareness of mental health in the UK. Although there is a ton of information on the internet and many support groups to join, most seem to be based in the States and we are quite lacking on this side of the pond. I am sure, though through sites like Minds like ours, this is all about to change.

How No Mental Health Stigma would have Completed Changed my Tuesday Night Drinks

Since graduating from university two years ago, I have slowly felt my social group begin to disband. Having a life at uni is SO easy, there is always something going on, whether you are in a lecture, the student union bar, or taking part in sports or one of the hundreds of societies higher education has to offer; you are constantly surrounded by people. I, like many students, went out far more often than I should. My friendship group was huge.

Of course, I have kept one or two close friends from uni, one of which I am positive is a friend for life. I see her at least once a fortnight, sometimes more regularly; but she has her own life. No longer is the week filled with parties and socials and fun things to get involved in. Some friends moved back home after graduating, some you lose contact with, and some you realise were simply circumstantial friends, people you thought were great in a uni environment, but in the real world you realise you just don’t have that much to talk about with them. Oh, and finding out the reason you were the life and soul of the party one minute and wanting nothing to do with anyone the next was due to the fact that you suffer from Bipolar Disorder ll, didn’t help. Unfortunately, I have lost a few friends because of the fact they simply could not deal with me having a mental health disorder. In short, I found myself bloody lonely.

I decided I needed to get out more. True, if I’m on a low, then I want to shut the door and not see or speak to anybody. Actually, it’s not a want, it’s a physical need. It’s like you suddenly forget how to interact with other people, or even yourself. I have been known to sit. Just sit, for hours, sometimes days, on end; not moving, not speaking, not even really thinking, just because the black cloud has descended and I no longer know or understand how to function. If I’m on a high, I am GOING OUT, there’s no if’s or but’s or even companions about it, I will just go out, and attach myself to the nearest group of people and party with them. Why not? Why wouldn’t they want to have me with them, I’m the most amazing, confident, funny, charismatic person they’ve ever met and I’m going to make it the best night out they’ve ever had. Yes, this situation could potentially be dangerous, as my support worker has said to me many a time and I have failed to see why. So I decided I needed to expand my social network, find some more people who I could spend time with and hopefully that might help keep me on a more even thread and ultimately keep me healthier and safer.

I came across a website made for socialising. You sign up, it tells you a list of events going on in your area and you pick which ones you want to attend. Perfect!! There was all sorts on there, from meeting for a quiet drink, to bike rides through the forest, to festivals! I put myself down to attend the “New Member Drinks”, which took place last night, and has inspired me to write my first ever blog about mental health and the stigma that is so frustratingly attached to it. I had a great time, everyone was outstandingly friendly, I met a few people I really clicked with and had great conversation. However this conversation was lacking slightly on my side; it lacked the truth. The truth about a very big part of my life that I don’t feel I can share with people because of the reactions it brings with it.

At the moment, I am not working due to my condition. When people asked me what I do for a living at this event; I found myself providing this answer:

“I’m actually taking a break from work, I was made redundant recently and I am looking to change careers, so I thought some time out whilst I work out the best route for that was needed for the time being”.

I also wear a blue wristband, provided by the charity SANE, which carries their website and the phrase “Black Dog Campaign – Stop Mental Health Stigma”. At one point in the evening somebody asked me what the band was for, when I told her, her response was a vague look of horror, the word “Oh” and a change of subject. Now I was getting on really well with this particular person, she was friendly and accommodating and really helped when I said I was a tad nervous about walking into a bar full of strangers, and I don’t hold this reaction against her at all. BUT, that, right there is why tackling mental health stigma is SO SO important. If I had been wearing a cancer research wristband, or a help the heros, it would have sparked a conversation. We might have exchanged stories, or began talking about the great work these charities do. Why does mental health warrant a complete subject change? If I had walked in on crutches with my foot in plaster, I would have had no problem explaining I was off work whilst my broken bones healed. But the society we live in, the lack of awareness about something which effects 1 in 4 people and the reactions you get to explaining that its your mind thats currently injured, meant I had to fabricate a story about redundancy, for the fear of alienating people who I was hoping might start to enrich my social life. And that’s wrong.

So that’s why I will always support anyone willing to stand up against stigma, and hopefully one day I will have the confidence to be honest with people about who I am without fear of prejudice. Because if I could, my Tuesday night drinks would have been a VERY different experience.

Introducing… Anna, 21, Anxiety

Hello, My name is Anna & I’m 21 years old. I started suffering with anxiety at around the age of 17. Since then I have been in & out of my doctor’s surgery trying to get to the bottom of it & learn to control it. Let’s be honest, it isn’t just going to disappear on its own & if it does, it could take some time. I had to switch around from doctor to doctor to finally get some help. My current doctor ran all sorts of tests to rule out any physical illness. I can’t praise him enough.

At the minute I am staying at home helping around the house since my mum has been in hospital. I have just started learning to drive. Which is a chance to leave the house, expose myself & learn a new skill at the same time.

I feel there is a stigma surrounding mental health. Before I started suffering I didn’t know such a thing even existed if I’m completely honest. I think more people need to be educated on the subject.

I am currently on medication for my anxiety & have just begun therapy. Next week I will be going for my third session.

I decided to become part of Minds Like Ours because I think it’s a fantastic idea & place for everyone who has either suffered, is suffering or who has a family member or friend suffering to come together. We all have a connection, not the greatest of connections but at least we are not alone.

Introducing… Kim, 21, Trichotillomania, Emetophobia, Depression, Anxiety & Psychosis

Coco, one of the weird and wonderful cats.

I’m Kimberley, but most just call me Kim. I’m (almost) 22 and live in Norfolk so am a country bumpkin through and through. I live with my extremely supportive fiancé and three weird and wonderful cats.

I’ve suffered from trichotillomania since the age of 10, with emetophobia following not too long afterwards and depression, anxiety, and psychosis deciding to join in around the age of 14. It’s been a struggle and my teenage years especially were tough. It’s a lot easier to put issues down to “teenage hormones” than it is admit there’s a deeper illness.

Thankfully, I had some incredible support at the time. I was referred to CAMHS who gave me talking therapies and CBT, and I met some lovely doctors. I went on medication for the first time at around 14 which helped me cope with daily struggles at the time. Unfortunately, CAMHS stops their services at 18 however, and this cutting off led me to be involved in a documentary for BBC Three’s “It’s a Mad World” season, called “Failed by the NHS” which features myself and other young people who were treated in a similar way. I’m lucky to have an incredibly supporting partner, and a loving family who are now able to help me get the support I should have received years ago. I’m on better medication and am now about to try and use the NHS Mental Health Services again.

I’ve found the stigma particularly hard at times. As I mentioned before, being a teenager with a mental health illness is difficult, and it’s easy for professionals, teachers, school counsellors etc. to brush it all under the carpet and hope it will pass. When I was first on medication, it was difficult for me to get a prescription when at the chemist because they thought I was too young, and they’d have to call the psychologist I was seeing to make sure it was right. I’ve been told many things whilst being ill, including being told I have a “choice” in how I feel, and that others have it a lot worse than me, which I must say does not help in any shape or form.

Depression gobbles you up and swallows you whole. It doesn’t care about your plans, commitments, and daily life, it just wants to sap all the energy out of you. It makes you feel numb to the world, and leaves you unable to concentrate. I’ve battled with the guilt and shame that comes with my conditions (especially trichotillomania) and my anxiety and emetophobia stops me from doing a lot of things “normal” people my age go – for example, I don’t drink alcohol, I don’t like eating at new places, I won’t eat particular things, I have to wash my hands for a certain period of time, I worry about having a panic attack whilst I’m out, and I can’t leave the house without certain medication and hand sanitiser.

I joined Minds Like Ours because I want to be a part of a strong community that is centred around raising awareness, breaking down stigma and providing support for those that suffer from a mental health disorder or knows someone that does. It’s an exciting new concept, and I can really see a lot of potential for it to grow and become a fantastic resource hub.


Welcome to Minds Like Ours


We are run by those with mental health disorders, for those with mental health disorders. Trying to keep up the ton of awareness risen by programmes such as Diaries of a Broken Mind and Don’t Call Me Crazy, using public video diaries and blogs. It’s up to you how public or private you want your story to be! We also offer support, advice and a really good laugh, so get on board.


We’re run by people like YOU, so are you going to get involved? Have a look through the different ways you can help out; from video diaries about your story, to blog posts and donating skills! If you’re interested then let us know, we’d love for you to be involved.


Come join our brand new forum! There you can apply to become an ambassador, get ideas for video diaries (and get yours featured on YouTube), talk to others for support and much more.


About Minds Like Ours

Minds Like Ours is run by people of all ages, genders, races and nationalities. Our common denominator? We suffer from, have suffered from, or live with someone who has a mental health disorder.

Our aim is to replicate the positive response from programmes such as Diaries of a Broken Mind, by spreading awareness of all kinds of mental health disorders. The people who run Minds Like Ours have all experienced (or still experience) different mental health disorders, including:






Eating Disorders





Social anxiety


Our community is run by the people within it and everyone can decide how public or private they wish to be about their story. We have a YouTube channel which will be filled with personal stories, group Q&A sessions, advice and just for people like us to vent. We also have a blog for the same things, particularly for those who don’t want to show their face (we know it can be scary). You can decide whether your story is shared with the private community or on a grander scale, to help raise awareness.

We now have a forum as part of our community too! Here our members can share their stories (publicly or privately), get support from others, come up with ways to raise awareness and get ideas for their video diaries or blog posts. Come check it out and become part of Minds Like Ours!