Mental Illness and Attitude #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to day 9 in the #Write31Days challenge on mental health. I should honestly be writing my posts earlier in the day, as once again I’m very tired. I also don’t read the other 31-dayers nearly as often as I should. Today though, I caught up with Anita Ojeda’s 31 Glimpses Into the Unquiet Mind. This is a series of posts on Anita’s daughter Sarah’s experience of depression and an eating disorder. What shocked me today was how both Sarah and her mother initially confused mental illness iwith a negative attitude.

Like I said before, I have in some ways always had mental health problems. I was often thought of as having a bad attitude, being selfish and lazy. Though I didn’t experience my mental health problems causing me to self-blame a lot, I did internalize other people’s blame of me.

I remember when I was admitted to the psychiatric unit in 2007, getting many comments from family and relatives that essentially said I was just having a bad attitude. I was, in a way. I was very much a pain in the butt for a long time, like many people with borderline personality disorder. I was myself responsible for the negativity I spread, whether I was mentally ill or not, but that didn’t mean that all I needed was a good kick in the pants.

Let’s face it: mental illness is an isolating experience. It can actually turn otherwise cheerful people into bitter ones. It can amplify the pessimism in people who already have a negative attitude to begin with. Please remember, even though people choose their behavior, they don’t choose to have a mental illness.

Also please realize that a mental illness sucks away energy from the person it affects. When you can hardly make it out of bed, you’re going to have especially little energy for being polite and cheerful towards others.

Many people erroneously believe mental illness is a weakness of the will. Though mildly depressed or anxious people can sometimes will themselves into keeping up appearances, those with more severe mental illness cannot. For your information: mental illness is not a weakness of chracter. Note for example that optimistic peope can be afflicted with depression. If depression and other mental illnesses are a weakness of character, only those who naturally gravitate towards negativism will develop them.

When relatives, perhaps in an attempt to be helpful, try to tell the mentally ill person to get their shit together, this may actually cause the person with mental health problems to fall deeper into despair. I received some particularly harsh comments that may’ve been meant to blow some sense into me, but they did the exact opposite. When I was suicidal, I reasoned that if my relatives were more concerned with the costs of my hypothetical funeral than with my state of despair, why should I live on?

I know it’s hard to have a relative with a mental illness. It is hard watching them spiral down into the pit of depression or other mental health problems, especially if they take out their despair on you. Don’t take your despair out on them in return. It may be wise to seek support from family or friends or perhaps other families of mentally ill people so that you can keep supporting your relative in a positive way. Remember that you aren’t a mental health professional, so you can’t drag your relative out of mental illness. Not that a mental health professional can, but you get the idea. Your helpful advice may be taken the wrong way, and this is through no fault of your own or the mentally ill person’s. It just happens and you’ll need to let it go.

Life Events and My Mental Illness #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to day 8 in the 31 Days of Mental Health. Today, I have yet another post inspired by the 30-day awareneess challenge. This one is a personal post. Two fo the questions in the chalenge are about when your symptoms started vs. when you were diagnosed and what important life events affected your mental health for the better or worse.

I have in a way always had mental health problems. That is, I was always a socially and emotionally delayed child, but my parents say I was relatively calm and cheerful until I was about seven or eight years of age. At age seven, I started learning Braille. I hated it with a vengeance. It probably was my increased awarneess of my blindness that set off my mental health problems, but it could also have been my becoming aware of my social deficits.

After all, my problems didn’t start to become severe till I moved schools at age nine, and this was precisely the time my peers stopped being protective and started excluding me. At my old school, I’d always gravitated towards older girls, most with mild learning difficulties, who acted like they were my babysitters while I showed them my academic ability. At my new school, I started in a combined fourth/fifth/sixth grade class and I was a fourth-grader. The other girls were all sixth-graders, so they knew more than did I. I did have a friend in third grade, but even with her my social deficits were becoming more pronounced.

Once I entered secondary school, my problems became even more severe. I was twelve when I experienced my first state of depression. That is, the first I can clearly remember. I do vaguely remember being suicidal (or parasuicidal) for a while when i was around eight or nine, but I’m not too sure of this. When I was twelve, I became acutely aware of my social difficulties. I devised my own interventions, but never quite knew how to follow through and, when people tried to help me, I was resistant.

At age thirteen, I went to a mainstream secondary school. I stayed there for six years and was mildly to moderately depressed all along. In fact, I think I may’ve been diagnosable with dysthymia at the time.

In the summer after my eighth grade year, when I was fifteen, I started experiencing dissociation. I felt as though I was in a movie a lot of the time and my alter parts appeard. I had had imaginary friends before, just like most girls, but this was different. I may or may not have been hearing voices at the time. I think it was more an overactive imagination coupled with some dissoication than something akin to psychosis, but my diary entries of the time make me wonder whether I was slightly out of touch with reality.

I spent the last three years of my secondary school experience functioning on autopilot most of the time. I had meltdowns several times a week and started self-injuring at age sixteen. I had been head-banging from a young age on, but had stopped more or less. At age sixteen, I started cutting.

After I graduated high school at age nineteen, I had a few months of relative calm. I went to the blindness rehabilitation center, where we had a lot of structure and one-on-one therapies. I for a bit thought I must be okay. Then when I moved to a training home for the disabled in early 2006, after a few months, the mask fell off and I crashed. I started dissociating more than I’d done before and experienced severe emotional dysregulation. Finally, in early 2007, I was diagnosed with autism.

I moved into independent living that summer and broke down within months. I was hospitalized on the acute unit in November of 2007.

To be honest, I don’t know what led to me being diagnosed with first DID/PTSD and then BPD. I mean, I know when I was diagnosed but I don’t know what got me to share my experiences of dissociation. In hindsight, however, it surprises me that BPD wasn’t diagnosed on the acute unit, because I displayed many classic signs.

Mental Illness: Nature or Nurture? #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to the seventh installment of the 31 Days of Mental health series. Today, I picked another of the 30 questions from the 30-day awareness challenge: do you believe nature (biology, physiology, etc.) or nurture (your psychosocial environment) causes mental illness? I am very tired, too tired to find the scientific evidence to back my post up with. will share what I do know off the top of my head, but please don’t ask me to cite my sources.

In medicine in general, there used to be a strictly nature-based model of illness and health. This determined that biological and physiological processes in the body caused illness and there was no contribution of psychological or social influences. This model is called the biomedical model and my health psychology book used it to describe the history of views on physical illness.

In mental illness, there have been many schools of thought that laid blame on the environment, in fact. For example, Freud blamed fixations in one’s psychosexual development for mental illnesses. The school of behaviorism also blamed the environment. Watson, the founding father of behaviorism, at one point said that, if given a handful of babies at birth to raise, he’d be sure he could make whatever you wanted the babies to become from them purely by processes of conditioning (behavioral learning).

It is interesting that there is such a distinction between the biomedical views on physical illness and the psychosocial views on mental illness. After all, though religion may say otherwise, scientists usually see the mind as part of the body. At least the brain is and dysfunction in the brain can cause mental disorders.

I currently study healht psychology at university. Health psychology feels illness as resulting from an interplay of biological, psychological and social factors. Again, they usually study physical illness, but I must say I believe the same goes for mental illness.

I remember when I was still diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder reading a scientific article that said in part that the role of psychological trauma in the cause of what is often diagnosed as DID may be less significant than people think. They used the analogy of borderline personality disorder, which they said most people diagnosed with DID truly have. BPD is commonly thought of as a developmental trauma disorder, but research shows that there may be genetic and other biological factors predisposing to its development. Then again, trauma researchers have made it very clear that trauma and other strong environmental factors alter the brain.

I personally tend to believe there is not a single mental illness that is solely caused by nature or nurture. There are illnesses where biology is the main causative factor, such as schizophrenia, and illnesses where psychosocial factors are the main cause, such as post-traumatic stress disorder. However, stress can trigger psychosis in vulnerable people and trauma only causes PTSD in some of its victims, presumably those biologically predisposed to PTSD.

As for my own mental illness, there are biological factors predisposing me to developing mental disorders. Though I don’t have any family members diagnosed with a mental illness, autistic traits run in my family. NOw again I don’t see autism as a mental illness, but autistic people are more vulnerable to mental illnesses than neurotypicals. I also was a preemie, which may’ve caused brain dysfunction. Lastly, though none of my famly members are mentally ill, a difficult temperament tends to run in my family.

As for psychosocial factors, I am a childhood trauma survivor. I also have had high levels of stress in my life, possibly due to the incongruence between my autistic self and the neurotypical environment. It was a stressful event that sent me over the edge, but it was probably biology that predisposed me to vulnerability to stress.

How I Feel About My Mental Health Diagnoses #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to day 6 of the 31 Days of Mental Health for #Write31Days. Today, I’m feeling very ill-inspired, so I checked out the 30 days of mental illness awareness master list. This is an awareness challenge in which mental health sufferers answer 30 questions about their experience of mental illness. I am going to combine day 1 and 2 of the challenge and share how I feel about the diagnoses I have been given over time.

The first mental health diagnosis I received was adjustment disorder. Okay, I received a diagnosis of autism before, but most mental health professionals do not consider this a mental illness and in truth, it isn’t. It’s a neurodevelopmental disorder.

I received the diagnosis of adjustment disorder upon my admission to the psychiatric hospital in 2007. An adjustment disorder basically means an extreme reaction to stress that doesn’t meet the criteria for any other mental disorder (eg. depression). Well, how could I not agree to thsi diagnosis? I was under a lot of stress from living independently and I reacted in an extreme way.

I was fortunate at the time that insurance still covered treatment for an adjustment disorder. It would do in my case under the current policy too, because I was suicidal, but many people with psychosocial problems related to even more severe stressors such as a life-threatening illness go untreated for their mental health problems.

As I said before, I then received a diagnosis of impulse control disorder NOS. I didn’t feel right about this diagnosis. It wasn’t that I didn’t agree I had impulse control issues, but I had so many more issues. Why not diagnose me with half a dozen other NOS disorders?

Years later, I was diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder (DID) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). To be very honest, these never sat right with me. Though I did feel validated that I had some dissociative experiences, I felt I may not meet the full criteria for DID. I did have a lot of identity confusion and depersonalization/derealization (feelings of unreality), but I didn’t have a lot of identity alteration (switching to different personalities) till after my diagnosis and never quite had amnesia (memory loss). Okay, let me clarify this: I did have a sense of identity alteration long before my diagnosis, but I tried to never show it on the outside. That changed after my diagnosis. Now I feel I might have dissociative disorder NOS, but I don’t want to bring up my experiences again for fear of being told that I imagine it all.

That was, after all, exactly what happened after a few years. I went to a dissociative disorders support group, where the support group leader, herself a DID sufferer, eventually kicked me out. Her reason was that she felt I had an imaginary dissociative disorder. My new therapist, who changed my diagnosis to BPD, didn’t exactly go along with this, but she did say that BPD better explained my symptoms than DID.

With regard to PTSD, I never felt I had the full classic PTSD symptom presentation. Though I did and do have flashbacks and nightmares, they aren’t necessarily specific to the trauma I survived. This is possible in PTSD with young children but not adults. I also did experience emotional numbing but not avoidance of triggers. In fact, I was often drawn to triggers. I still am. I did and do however experience many symptoms of complex PTSD. Then again, these are similar to those of BPD.

In 2013, I was finally diagnosed with borderline persoanlity disorder. I almost instantly agreed I have it, but then again, I did with most conditions I’d been diagnosed with. I do still feel I meet enough criteria for a diagnosis, though I don’t exhibit as many classic BPD behaviors as I used to when first coming to my current institution. This is possibly related to my autistic difficulty adjusting to change.

Deciding to Go on Psychiatric Medication #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to day 5 of the #Write31Days challenge. Today I’m focusing on a difficult decision people with mental illness might face: the decision to ask their doctors to prescribe them psychiatric medication.

Of course, patients do not make the decision to get on medication alone. Neither do doctors. Unless the patient’s mental illness causes them to be a threat to themselves or others, they cannot be forced to take medication. The patient decides whether they’ll swallow the pills prescribed to them, but the doctor ultimately decides what to prescribe. In other words, the decision about psychiatric medication is a cooperative process between doctor and patient.

Each time that I went on psychiatric medication, it was my doctor or another mental health professional who’d taken the initiative. Then again, being an informally-treated patient, I each time had the right to informed consent and chose to take my pills.

The first time I went on medication, in the summer of 2007, I was very seriously distressed. Looking back, the timing of my going on medication was about as wrong as can be. If I have to advise other patients on starting medication, I’ll advise them to change as little about the rest of their treatment or their lives as possible whilst trying the medication. I was pretty stupid in this respect, going on medication a week before I moved into independent living. Consequently, I didn’t have the opportunity to assess whether the medication worked. Maybe it did, but it is quite likely that, if it worked at all, it kept me just millimeters from falling off the edge of sanity.

I was also quite ill-informed about the medication’s side effects. The medication I was prescribed was Risperdal, an antipsychotic known for its metabolic side effects (ie. weight gain, risk of diabetes, etc.). Though I didn’t get any of these side effects as far as I knew, I did develop palpitations. The prescribing psychiatrist brushed this off, saying it was probably stress. Could be, but I’d never had this symptom before and never had it again. Since I know where to find reliable medication information, I quickly found out that heart palpitations are a relatively rare but very possible side effect from this medication.

Like the decision to go on medication, the decision to change a dose or to go off a medication again, requires cooperation between doctor and patient. Because I had moved a week after going on Risperdal and I didn’t have a psychiatrist in my new city, my GP was prescribing my medication. Understandably, she wasn’t sure how I’d do if she allowed me to quit the medication, so she was hesitant about this. I eventually just told her I was going to quit one way or another, and she recommended a taper schedule. In general, doctors have patients taper in relatively large steps, halving the dose one to several times and then stopping. It is however wise to taper more slowly.

I landed in a mental crisis four weeks after going off Risperdal. It is not known whether my going off of Risperdal caused me to fall off the edge, but I didn’t go back on medication right away. In fact, I didn’t go back for another more than two years.

I currently take Abilify, another antipsychotic, and Celexa, an antidepressant. People on antipsychotics are monitored for metabolic syndrome every six months to a year in my institution. When the monitoring project started, we were also given a long list of potential side effects and asked whether we had them or not. I had some, but not enough to warrant lowering my medication dose. The most common side effects of antipsychotics, other than metabolic syndrome, are movement disorders, like parkinsonism (stiffness and tremors similar to those in Parkinson’s Disease) and akathisia (severe restlessness and urge to move). There are medications that can counter thse side effects, particuarly parkinsonism. I don’t take any of these medications. However, it is very important to carefully consider the dosage of the antipsychotic and medications against its side effects. After all, most people want as few medications as possible, so it may not always be wise to counter each side effect with another medication.

How Far I’ve Come on My Mental Health Journey #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to day 4 in the #Write31Days challenge. Sorry for being a bit late to publish my post. Today, I’m sharing a personal post, describing how far I’ve come on my journey of learning to cope with mental illness.

I sought mental health help for the first time in early 2007. I was severely behaviorally disturbed at the time, having aggressive meltdowns several times a week. Though I didn’t physially attack other people, I was quite verbally aggressive and threw objects a lot. This behavior lessened with some counseling from a community psychiatric nurse and eventually medication, but it didn’t completely disappear.

When I was admitted to the psychiatric unit on NOvember 3, 2007, I was seriously suicidal. I had spiraled down into a crisis while living independently. I at the time showed classic borderline behavior, making suicidal threats when I was seriously distressed. I no longer threw objects as much as I’d done before, but I was still verbally aggressive.

After about three months on the locked unit, my disturbed behavior became less severe, but I still had many milder meltdowns. I’d also display rigid behavior. For example, I had a crisis prevention plan and i’d tell the nurses when they weren’t following it. Now the staff at that unit were quite authoritarian, so I was threatened with seclusion for telling staff they weren’t following the rules. I don’t see this as disturbed behavior on my part now, but I do see how, in the insane place of a psychiatric hospital, it was.

My meltdowns and outbursts didn’t lessen in frequency till I went back on medication in early 2010. It also helped that I’d transferred to the less restrictive resocialization unit. I eventually was quite stable there on a moderate dose of an antipsychotic and a low dose of an antidepressant. I still had my moments where I’d act out, but they were manageable.

This changed when I transferred to my current long-term unit in 2013. I transferred in the summer, so there were often fewer staff available. I also couldn’t cope with the fact that my part of the unit was often left to our own resources when the staff were catering to the needs of the presumably less independent people on the other floor. I started eloping regularly, something I’d previously done sometimes but not nearly as often as I did now. At one point, it eventually led to the staff considering having me transferred to the locked unit. That fortunately never happened. Instead, my antipsychotic was increased to eventually the highest dose. I have been relatively stable for about nine months now.

What helped me along this way was a building of mutual trust and cooperation. An example was that the staff would often offer to allow me into the comfort room when distressed. At the resocialization unit, when I’d have severe meltdowns, I’d be transferred to the locked unit and made to sit in their comfort room. Their comfort room was really a reconstructed seclusion area and there was little comfort to be found. Consequently, I saw the comfort room as punishment, but on my current unit, it isn’t. We have a really good comfort room which is truly calming. I learned to realize that the offer to have me sit in there was an offer for help, not punishment.

Eight years into my mental institutionalization, I still cannot say I have fully overcome my destructive ways. They have significantly lessened, but I still have my moments. That probably won’t be over with for a long while.

Seeking Mental Health Help for the First Time #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

When you feel you may suffer with a mental health conditon, you may want to seek mental health help. This is a very hard step that takes a lot of courage. I mean, there’s still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health problems, so you may feel awkward asking for help for something that’s “all in your head”.

When I took my first steps into the mental health system, it wasn’t by my own initiative. People with more severe mental illness relatively often find themselves being dragged into the system by other people. In my case, it was my staff at the training home for disabled people I resided at who took the initiative to send me to a psychiatrist.

In most countries, you’ll need a referral from your GP or another medical doctor (or sometimes a psychologist) to see a psychiatrist. I went to my GP for the referral, but couldn’t speak at all. I was totally locked up inside. It was my staff member who asked for the referral.

Once you see a mental health professional, the next step is telling them why you are seeing them. This may be hard too. Some people with more severe mental illness do not have insight into their illness. I didn’t when I was first seen by a psychiatrist, and that’s while I studied psychology at the time. Even if you do think you know what’ss wrong with you, it may be hard to articulate. Yu may feel shame, but you also may feel like you have trouble looking at your mental processes. I did. Many mental health professionals, especially those working with the severely mentally ill, will be understanding of this.

The mental health professional may ask you whether you have any idea of what type of help you’d like yourself. Don’t worry if you don’t have an answer to this. Most mental health professionals will understand that you may not have a clear understanding of what help you want, let alone what’s available or most effective with your problems. Particularly when you are severely or acutely mentally ill, the psychiatrist may have to give you limited options or recommend a particular treatment. For example, when I saw a psychiatrist about going on medication in the summer of 2007, she offered me two choices, one I’d come up with myself and another that she felt would be better suited. I chose to go along with her recommendation. Remember, as the patient, you have the right to informed consent, but you aren’t the expert on mental illness and its treatment. You know you best, but the psychiatrist knows what tends to work with your particular type of problems.

Mental Health Recovery #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to day 2 in the #Write31Days challenge on mental health. When you are diagnosed with a mental health condition, you often wonder how you’re going to get your life back. Ideally, you’d be cured of your mental health condition, but this is not always possible. When you have a severe mental illness such as schizophrenia or borderline personality disorder, this is often going to be lifelong. Therefore, the goal does not become cure, but living a meaningful life in spite of your mental illness. It is here that recovery comes into play.

The mental health recovery movement may be seen as an offshoot from the psychiatric survivor movement from the 1970s and 1980s. Back then, people who couldn’t be cured of their mental illness within a short while, were institutionalized on long-term units essentially for life. The worst part was that they lost all control over their lives. They couldn’t even decide what they were having for breakfast, let alone how they wanted to live their lives. Many were heavily medicated without their informed consent.

In the 1970s, psychiatric patients and activists started to protest the forced institutionalization of mentally ill people. My mother was one of those activists. Part of this protest was asking who is normal. People would wear mirror buttons with this text on them.

The truth is, everyone experiences mental setbacks in their lives. The recovery movement assumes that even people with severe mental illness can and should have control over their own lives. Recovery includes being an active participant in your treatment and the director of your own life.

In 2010, I participated in a recovery group at my former institution. One of the main positives of this recovery group was that it deliberately consisted of institutionalized people. This sent the message that, even as a long-term psychiatric inpatient, you can and should have control over your life. We discussed such topics as sources of support, pitfalls in our recovery and getting our lives back on track. Most people participating in the group, even those who did not originally intend on taking leaps in their treatment, were improving their lives at the end of the course.

I want to clarify here that the goal of recovery is self-direction, not necessarily self-reliance. I for one was planning on transferring to a workhome, which is essentially a permanent institution placement. I didn’t end up going there, but still five years later reside on a long-trem treatment unit. That doesn’t mean I didn’t take steps towards recovery. I took more responsibility for my own life and took steps towards being an active participant in my treatment. For example, I searched for a therapist who would treat my complex trauma once I’d transfer to the workhome. As I said, it didn’t work out, but the recovery course taught me that I could and should take my life and treatment in my own hands.

Defining Mental Illness #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

For my first post in the 31 Days of Mental Health series, I will discuss how mental health conditions are diagnosed. As you probably know, there is no objective test for mental illness, like a blood or urine test. The diagnosis of mental illness is based on the symtpoms and signs a patient presents with.

The main classification system for mental disorders in use in th United States and elsewhere is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association. In 2013, the fifth edition, DSM-5, was published. However, some countries, like the Netherlands, still use the previous edition, DSM-IV.

DSM-IV uses a multi-axial system of diagnosing mental disorders. There are two axes for mental disorders: Axis I for clinical disorders like depression, schizophrenia and ADHD, and axis II for intellectual disability and personality disorders. The reason for the existence of axis II is that the creators of DSM-IV felt that intellectual disability and personality disorders are particularly hard to treat and relatively stable over time. Later research found this is not necessarily the case for certain personality disorders in particular. In DSM-5, personality disorders and intellectual disabiltiy are listed under the same section as other mental disorders.

In DSM-IV, there are three more axes for diagnostic classificaiton: Axis III for physical disorders, axis IV for psychosocial and environmental factors, and axis V for one’s global assessment of functioning (GAF) score. This score indicates how well or ill a person is in general. A GAF score of 100 indicates excellent mental health, while a GAF score of 50 indicates severe symptoms or severe impairments in one area of functioning (eg. work, school, social life). A GAF socre of 1, the lowest score, indicates persistent danger of seriously harming self or others. My GAF socre is 40, meaning some problems in reality testing or communication or significant impairments in more than one area of functioning.

The GAF score is, as the name suggests, a global scale. As such, it does not determine how severe each disorder a person may be diagnosed with is. Also, if a person has problems in maintaining their personal hygiene, they automatically get a lower GAF score than those who have problems functioning at work or school. It is apparently thought that, if you neglect your personal hygiene, you will be unable to function at school or work. This at least hasn’t been the case with me. In DSM-5, the GAF scale was dropped and severity can be coded for each disorder a person has been diagnosed with. The World Health Organization (WHO) Disability Assessment Schedule is included in the assessment tools section of DSM-5.

You may’ve noticed that I mostly refer to mental disorders, not mental illnesses. The word “mental illness” is not used within the DSM, rather, DSM uses the word “mental disorder” to encompass all conditions listed in their classification system (with some exceptions, eg. medication-induced movement disorder). A mental disorder is defined in DSM-5 as a syndrome characterized by clinically significant disturbance in a person’s cognition, emotion regulation or behavior. It reflects a dysfunction in the psychological, biological or developmental processes underlying mental functions. Mental disorders are usually associated with significant distress or disability in social, occupational or other important activities. An expected or culturally approved response to a stressor, such as the loss of a loved one, is not a mental disorder. Religious, political or sexual deviance or conflicts between the individual and society are not mental disorders, unless the conflict originates primarily within the individual.

A mental disorder is not the same as a need for treatment. Need for treatment is determined through a complex process of assessment of symptom severity, presence of certain symptoms (eg. suicidal ideation), the person’s distress or disability related to their symptoms, risks and benefits of available treatment, and possibly other factors (eg. if a person’s mental disorder impacts another illness). Because of this, people who do not meet all criteria for a diagnosable mental disorder but who demonstrate a clear need for care, may be taken into treatment.

Section II of the DSM-5 describes all mental disorders that are currently being recognized by the American Psychiatric Association. Mental disorders, for clarity’s sake, include neurodevelopmental and neurocognitive disorders (eg. autism or dementia), addictions, as well as those disorders more commonly thought of as mental illnesses. Personality disorders are not always seen as mental illnesses. For example, in the UK’s Mental Health Act, they are called “psychopathic disorders”. Nonetheless, I see both personality disorders and disorders such as schizophrenia and depression, as mental illnesses.

31 Days of Mental Health #Write31Days

31 Days of Mental Health

Welcome to #Write31Days, a writing challenge in which bloggers pick a topic to write about each October and write about this topic everday during the month. This is my first time participating in this challenge. I still
don’t have an editorial calendar, so though I’ve been thinking of things to

post about, I still don’t have anything scheduled. I hope that won’t prove to be a huge problem.

My topic for this year’s #Write31Days will be mental health. As regular readers of my blog will know, I have lived with mental illness for a long time and currently reside in a psychiatric institution. I have written quite a few informative posts on mental illness already, as well as a number of posts chronicling my journey towards recovery. During this month’s challenge, I am simply going to expand my collection of mental health-related posts. Since like I said, I don’t have an editorial calendar, there probably isn’t going to be a particular order to my posts. I like it that, apart from choosing a topic, there isn’t a requirement to follow any guidelines such as those in the #AtoZChallenge back in April.

I currently have only one mental health diagnosis, but have had many in the past. I also happen to be a psychology student, so I know a bit about the gamut of mental health conditions. I will take the opportunity during this challenge to share some about conditions and symptoms I do experience, but also about things I don’t. In short, I’d like to educate my readers on the spectrum of mental illness and mental health.

Because it may get boring writing all types of dull posts on mental health conditions (and it may get boring reading them), I will be sharing tips for coping with mental illness, as well as posts inspired by my own journey of recovery, too. I hope you’ll learn from and be inspired by my posts.

This is the landing post for this year’s #Write31Days challenge. This means it serves as an index for all my posts that I write during this month. I will post my button in every post, too. If I did it correctly, clicking on the button should take you back to this post.

Click below on the post you’d like to view.