Pick up a women's or men's magazine and the dominant features will be appearance, nutrition, fitness, work, sex and romance. We want to be strong, fit, healthy and attractive and enjoy our work and love life. We want them and expect them to go right, but we can be in for disappointments when they don't go according to plan. We need a Plan B: a fit mind to back us up.
If there is one group of creatures on earth who find Christmas dinner more stressful than all the turkeys out there do, it is people with eating disorders. Actually scrap that, when it comes to having an eating disorder it isn't simply Christmas dinner that is stressful, it is the entire build up over the festive season when suddenly it feels as if EVERYTHING is about food.
For me, the diagnosis was a relief, for it accorded with the maxim "know thyself" - and, for any human being, this is a fundamental part of life's journey. As time goes on, I have begun to see bipolar not so much as an affliction, confined to a certain, unfortunate percentile of the population, but as something that lies in the further reaches of conscious experience.
The 295 (at least) trans* people who were murdered this year alone were sons, daughters, siblings, friends, parents, students, teachers, lovers. They brought light to the dark places they stepped and their presence raised awareness. But they were deemed to be "other", to be "wrong", to be inferior and for that they were killed.
OCD is something I never seem to talk about often due to my lack of confidence on talking about the subject. I'm usually never brave enough to talk about something that's very private in my life or share it with others. I'm the sort of person who likes to keep things securely stored inside my head because I feel it's much less bother.
Suicide is a difficult topic to talk about because there are so many feelings that go alongside it. For some it can be immoral, too upsetting, something "selfish" people do, too sensitive, too dark, maybe even something that people avoid talking about because it is too difficult to understand why someone would commit such an act...
I am not justifying it as a good thing to do whatsoever, it is an unhealthy coping strategy that needs to be talked about and treated to find alternative ways of managing difficult feelings that are not so damaging. Still, you can't find an alternative until you know what purpose self-harm serves in general or for you personally, so here goes...
Due to my OCD, a lot of things, if not everything in my life, is a certain way. The structure of every day is exactly the same and my routines and rituals could not be more rigid if they tried. Everything I do each day is exactly the same as I did it the day before but that is not in any sense because that is the way in which I like them.
I believe now is the time to stop whooping about awareness and take some real actions. Pride in disability identity might be a step, or innovatively defending disability rights another. We the disabled community would love to see everyone with the spirit and audacity to accost and confront the weary awareness trope and begin taking substantive steps.
Raising awareness of mental health causes is something that has always been really important to me. I strongly believe that improving people's understanding of mental health difficulties and normalising discussions about these issues can have a positive impact on reducing the associated stigma enabling people to be more open about their own struggles. I was really impressed by a recent awareness campaign held for SAMH in Scotland.