January 5, 2015

I have experienced post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and been a victim of child domestic violence. Natasha BlogOne in three young children will have an issue with mental illness that is directly linked to the experience of seeing or experiencing domestic violence in their homes. One in four people will experience issues with mental health. I wanted to better educate others on these issues. I wanted to help others to speak out and share their story in their own words like I did through my blog, Free Your Mind, which I started to express myself and let go of the negativity of my past. I’ve always loved it write and have a degree in Communications, Culture and Media but was discouraged about my writing abilities by a boss after I was diagnosed with dyslexia. His comments and reaction to my diagnosis ruined my confidence so stopped altogether.

Blogging allowed me to begin communicating again in some form

However, my breakdown in 2012 took me back to writing as I had become mute and stopped communicating with everyone. My blog allowed me to begin communicating again in some form. A friend angrily contacted me asking why I hadn’t been in touch and called me a letdown, I was gutted. I’d had just had a panic attack that very same day that was when I decided to write out my feelings in a blog, knowing I wanted her to hear what I was going through. The next day I emailed it to all of my friends and family, hoping they would read it and finally understand.

I was completely overwhelmed by the support received, messages telling me how brave I was, how well I’d hidden so much, how my friend had cried reading it because she really had no idea that things had been that bad. The writing turned into a regular blog, which gave me a different perspective, looking at life ‘inside out’. I was never a good speaker or talker, but found that writing really helped and felt comfortable.

Writing helps you to confront your mental illness

I found that once I started to write, I felt a great sense of control and was able to look at my life and start to write it to be the way I wanted it to be. Unlike in the past where I felt everyone else had the pen. Writing helps you to confront your mental illness and who you are. It is not always an easy process, but it is very worth doing and it can bring you to a better understanding of yourself.

Like many people with mental health issues, I didn’t let on to anyone what was going on inside my head for many years. All my life I’d suffered from what I now know as post traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety and panic attacks. It was like I had a cloud over my head all the time, which would sometimes get thicker and darker to the point where I would shut myself away from the world to cope.

There's always someone who will relate

Stories connect people. Whilst you think you may be alone, there’s always someone who will relate and make a connection to your story and there’s great comfort in finding that out. Now I have made a book out of my blog I hope that that and my continued work it will educate, inspire, empower and encourage others who are going through similar experiences and reduce the stigma against mental illness.

I wanted many others to share in the freedom and healing of sharing their story

It was really important to have other people – from a variety of backgrounds - share their story, the book would be nothing without the courageousness of people coming forward, and I wanted many others to share in the freedom and healing of sharing their story

I was so overwhelmed by the response and happy that so many people wanted to be a part of it that it was hard to keep up with sometimes. Some people were happy to share their story by name, whereas others were still worried about the stigma and being judged, especially due to their occupations so shared their stories anonymously.

My hope is that more people will feel empowered and go onto share their own stories and feel the release and healing that expression can bring. Writing helps you to confront your mental illness and who you are. It is not always easy process, but it is very worth doing and it can bring you to a better understanding of yourself.

Natasha Benjamin wrote, collated stories and poetry from other people with mental health issues, and published Free Your Mind – The Anthology, which also captures her own journey of self-discovery, PTSD, child domestic violence and mental health problems. 

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Too many people are made to feel ashamed. By sharing your story, you can help spread knowledge and perspective about mental illness that could change the way people think about it.

Comments

mental health

I read your blog and found it really inspiring. I wrote something a while ago about my own illness. It might sound a bit dark but its how I feel and I just thought I'd share it in your comment section :) What depression means to me Depression to me is a giant wave that swells so big, when it looms, it strikes a 'god fearing' emotion within. Real fear. The fear that what is about to happen to you will have an irreversible impact that will last within you forever. The swell has already grown to an unimaginable size and your body is shoulder deep in water with no where to secure your feet and no where to turn for safety. The current pushes the wave towards you and then the swell hangs over the top of you. Within seconds you are being thrashed around, encased in thick, strong water. The pressure becomes to much to cope with and you find yourself incapable of self defence or clear thought. helplessness becomes the only thing you are capable of feeling and it will never end.... or at least, in your mind it wont. The reason I believe people without depression fail to understand people with depression is because its a common misconception that depression robs you of happiness. It doesn't. It robs you of vitality, that exuberant physical strength and mental vigour that gets your average person out of bed is completely stolen from you once that little demon digs his icy nails into you and claws the colour from your soul, leaving you black and empty. once your soul becomes sombre your body becomes lethargic and your strength is now non-existent. According to my doctor I display every symptom of hypomanic bipolar disorder, which includes, being irritable, poor judgement, mood swings, sadness, anxiety, guilt, anger, isolation, hopelessness, disturbance in sleep, loss of appetite, fatigue, loss of interest in usually enjoyable activities, problems concentrating, loneliness, self loathing, apathy, indifference, irritability, chronic pain and morbid thoughts. I have also been told that as a side affect to my hypomanic bipolar disorder I also suffer from seasonal adjustment disorder and hyper sexuality disorder.... the wave looms as my strength disappears just from the staggeringly daunting prospect of having to soak in the fact that any number of these symptoms can hit me at any time of the day without warning and with no cure.

Reply

Thank you so much for your response and your words depression was really honest and open. It's truly awful all you can do it take everyday as it comes, look after yourself and have people around you that understand you. Xxxx

PTSD

Hi, I also have PTSD. I wish some of my friends and family would like to gain a better understanding of it, then they might they better understand me. I also have medication resistant bipolar 2 as well and chronic pain issues. What the base of the problem is that I need a lot of company and support. If they understood PTSD my family and friends would understand what is past to them and I just 'should' forget about 'let go', 'move on'. It's not so simple when PTSD flashbacks of trauma's of the very recent past won't let go of me. Why I can't just pick up the phone and say hi, or look like I'm begging for help. I just look like it. I actually am. The more I'm alone the room there is for these horrific things to keep happening in front of mines. I"m often asked why I'm so distracted. I can't begin to explain that some random thing that they just said has triggered memories to come flooding back. Then I get criticised for not paying attention. I actually am. I'm hyper vigilant I don't miss a thing. It just might take me a minute to process. All I really need is a little time and a lot of patience.

Reply

Hi Beth, I totally understand, its hard when you feel surrounded but alone because people don't understand you, I run a support group with rethink mental illness offline so depending where you are maybe you could come along? I also run an online one too please feel free to join you can find it on facebook. I understand the hypervigilance, I am the same, probably less so than i used to be, you question everything and expect anything. The only things that help are time and the consistent support which helps you to build trust of the things around you. I wish you all the best XXX

PTSD FB group

Hi Natasha, thanks so much for reading what I wrote. I'd love to come along to your support group, but I suspect it's in the UK? I'm in Australia, so doubt I could make it. I'll definitely do a search on FB for the online group there. I feel so much better already knowing someone heard me and actually replied. Forever grateful Natasha, thank you. Beth. Xxx

PTSD

Hi, I also have PTSD. I wish some of my friends and family would like to gain a better understanding of it, then they might they better understand me. I also have medication resistant bipolar 2 as well and chronic pain issues. What the base of the problem is that I need a lot of company and support. If they understood PTSD my family and friends would understand what is past to them and I just 'should' forget about 'let go', 'move on'. It's not so simple when PTSD flashbacks of trauma's of the very recent past won't let go of me. Why I can't just pick up the phone and say hi, or look like I'm begging for help. I just look like it. I actually am. The more I'm alone the room there is for these horrific things to keep happening in front of mines. I"m often asked why I'm so distracted. I can't begin to explain that some random thing that they just said has triggered memories to come flooding back. Then I get criticised for not paying attention. I actually am. I'm hyper vigilant I don't miss a thing. It just might take me a minute to process. All I really need is a little time and a lot of patience.

I can Relate

Hi, I loved this post. I also started a blog recently to write about my mental illness (PTSD, Anxiety, and Depression). It's helped a lot to get my feelings out and feel like maybe somebody is hearing me. Although I have not had the courage yet to share it with my family or most of my friends. Writing is a great coping mechanism and really allows me to deal with my feelings in a more organized manner.

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