Laughing at mental illness – good news for Russell Howard

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Russell Howards Good News 3

I really enjoy radio and TV comedy and comedy clubs. As I tweeted a couple of weeks ago:

“I love laughing. And this comedy series with @RussellHoward always ends with an uplifting story.”

My tweet included a link to the BBC Three show Russell Howard’s Good News. This show, now in its eighth series, is written by Howard and is a light hearted upbeat sample of the previous week’s news stories. The show includes lots of humorous video clips and newspaper headlines, a mystery guest with a whimsical skill which Howard samples on stage, and ends with an unashamedly cheesy story. The show’s material is tested in front of an audience on Sunday, filmed on Tuesday then the show airs on Thursday. It’s the channel’s most successful entertainment show ever.

Last Thursday, to warm people up for the new series that started tonight, Howard’s 2011 stage show Right Here…

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Mind and Soul : 16 things not to say

Please take a look at the site I got this from its a real gold mine for Christian friendly mental health information… Not that nay MH info sights are not Christian friendly…ah… You get what I mean and its LATE!

Mind and Soul : 16 things not to say.

Things not to say


Yes, these have all been said! Yes, actually to people’s faces! In BOLD: What you said. Then: What the person heard!

Just give it to God!
One quick prayer and it’s all over, sorted, done and dusted!

Have you tried praying?
Just a thought, maybe you haven’t thought about it yet, you know even though you’ve been a Christian for 15 years?

Pull yourself together
You need a stiff talking to and someone needs to tell you

We all feel like that sometimes but you have to snap out of it
You know you’re not suffering anything else that no-one else doesn’t feel now and then so why can’t you just snap out of it like everyone else does?

Are you reading your bible?
I know you’ve been a Christian for 15 years and you use to preach, but maybe you’ve forgotten that when you are so ill and you cannot rationalise, you’re seeing things and hearing things, you can’t make sense of your words and anything or anyone around you, you’re visions blurred and your head feels like it’s going to explode, you can just pick up your bible and claim a scripture! It’s great isn’t it, as simple as ABC

I’m not getting into the boat with you – you’re full of self pity
No, I’m not even going to listen to anything you say as that would mean that I’m getting in the boat with you and agreeing with what you are saying and that would mean that I’ll be helping you simmer in your self pity and I don’t want to be classed as a negative person like you

Just fight it!
Just refuse to feel like that in the name of Jesus, refuse it, rebuke it, don’t receive it?

I’d never allow myself to get in that state
Sorry but what’s happened to you, will never happen to me, I’m fit, healthy and loving life, no way will what’s happened to you happen to me!

You’re looking really well
You look like there’s nothing wrong with you, in fact I think you’re making it all up, cause to me, you look like everyone else

It’s your own fault
I was reading Job the other day, what sin is in your life that you haven’t confessed and dealt with yet?

There’s no such thing as depression, you’re just feeling sorry for yourself
What is all this poppycock about depression and illness? you need to get a grip and stop pretending you are ill

You’re a hypochondriac
Honestly, there’s people out there who are really ill, I think you enjoy it

Shouting at someone
I need to disciple you, discipline you and put you right, now STOP IT

Why can’t the doctors do anything?
Why can’t the doctors sort you out? I mean they’ve always sorted me out and everyone I know so why can’t they sort you out? Tell me? It’s very frustrating and I can’t work it out

You should just stop taking all those tablets and just trust in God
Now I have a physical condition so if I stop taking my tablets, I would die, if you stop taking your medication nothing will happen apart from you will be trusting God more and you won’t have any side effects, so simple!

It’s a choice – you can change if you want to
Yeah… of course I choose to hate my self and wish I was dead… Thank you for pointing out it’s just a choice that I need to make

Things to say instead


This is OK to say in BOLD and This is why it’s OK. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Just be kind and empower them

If you want to talk, I’m here to listen
I care about what’s happening to you and need to listen to you as a friend to show you that. Then I can understand and help you. I realise this is going to take longer with someone who is mentally ill.

I’m praying for you, do you want me to pray for you now?
I don’t have any magic answers and I’m not trying to give you one but what I can do is pray for you. I know God answers prayer.

I have some practical wisdom I can share with you.
Because I’ve spent time with you and listened to you, I can see you need rest, space, food, spiritual advice etc and can help you.

I have no idea what it must feel like because I’ve never suffered from mental illness but I can understand it better now
I can’t contemplate what it must feel like to be mentally ill and I can now have sympathy to anyone with mental illness because I understand it now.

Could I help you spiritually in any way, perhaps share some scriptures that you may be able to draw strength from?
I can’t imagine what its like to not be able to draw from my bible because I’ve lost the ability to think clearly and be in control of my mind. If I can help by writing some scriptures out or reading from the bible for you, or get some bible tapes for you, I will.

Shall we go out together somewhere? Can I take you out somewhere?
Special times with friends help and if I can help take you out for a while it may help you escape from the same surroundings and focus on something else for a while. It must be awful when you are to not be able to go out at all because you are ill and you’ve lost your work world and other social outlets.

I can see your not feeling great at the moment, do you want me to go and come back tomorrow or another day?
I can appreciate that if you’re having a really bad day, I should come back another time and I’ll be able to help better

Do you need help getting your medication or a lift to the specialists?
This is a really practical thing that you need and half an hour of my time would be a real answer to prayer to you

Talk to them about something positive in their life, or an improvement that you’ve noticed
Sometimes when you are so in the middle of something and experiencing it every day you can’t see the small improvements that are happening or recognise an achievement or progress

Find out any likes, hobbies, what makes them laugh and work towards helping them achieve one of these
Laughter’s good medicine, we all need purpose in our lives and to feel we’re achieving something.

Help them work through a panic attack, and irrational thoughts.
Help them to breathe by going through simple exercises, pray for them, talk through calmly their thoughts and help them rationalise them.) All the physical effects it can feel like you are dying and is very scary. This can be very draining yourself especially if emotionally attached so take time to recuperate yourself after.

Don’t give up on them; it can take along time and a lot of hard work to help someone recover. They need friends and loved ones to stick by them.
Medication alone won’t do it; it’s all the social help and one to one work and prayer that will see the breakthrough

Alan and Amanda Stephenson, 05/05/2010

London’s Mascot’s

This week the organisers of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics announced and unveiled the mascots for the games. They have proved to be VERY controversial as my friend Sam highlighted in his blog, as well as a lot of headlines tearing the mascots apart.

I am pleased that one of them has a link to disability and is remembering that the UK held the first ever Paralympics which is defiantly  something to be proud of.

In an effort to be accessible which I am quite appreciating the organisers have released the video showing the first part of the story of Wenlock and Mandeville with audio description, for those of you that don’t know what that is watch it and you will soon understand.

You Know You’re a Blind Person When…

Last week I read this article by Charlie Swinbourne Titled “You Know Your Deaf When…(Part 1).

This of course got me thinking of the you know your blind when hilarity this is something I have often discussed with blind mates and it stuck me that I have failed to post something like this before. Thanks Charlie for bringing it to my attention!

I must say all of these things you are about to read are true and have happened.

I would also like to add that if you have your own additions to the list you are about to read stick them in a comment with your name, URL and whatever and I will add them in!

Ok so after all that…

You know you’re a blind person when…

  • You accidentally wash your hair in factor 30 sun creme.
  • You don’t have a single pair of matching socks.
  • You hand your sister a container which you think is shampoo, your slightly less blind sister manages to see that it is in fact Hob Bright oven cleaner.
  • You go on holiday and accidentally come back with someone else’s Guide Dog.
  • You persuade a friend to play darts with you and hit your friend in the leg when it’s your turn.
  • The phrase ‘Blind Drunk’ has a totally different meaning to you.
  • You are totally unaware that the city you live in is completely consumed with fog… it always looks like that to you!
  • You HATE the idea of Shared streets!
  • You hate car drivers except when they are driving you somewhere.
  • Because you have some vision strangers refuse to accept that you are blind.
  • You get told off by the Police for walking into a bollard, they think you have had enough to drink already; ON YOUR WAY TO THE PUB!
  • Having a Guide Dog or cane means you never get ID’d in pubs.
  • You have full conversations with what you think is your friend, you later discover she’s not actually there.
  • Walking straight past the person you are supposed to be meeting is a regular occurrence even if it is someone you know well such as a parent.
  • Reading the cooking instructions on the food you purchase is totally impossible so you guess.
  • A person walks up to you says your name and starts a conversation you talk for a bit and they leave… You still have no idea who it was.
  • What colour are my trousers?’ is a perfectly reasonable question to ask a date.
  • You high-five the persons face instead of their hand.
  • Other people tell you to ‘watch out’ and then apologise and get all embarrassed.
  • You don’t care about 3D.
  • You stop traffic… With your cane/Guide Dog.
  • People you meet tell you all about their blind aunt flora (or other relative) and ask if you know her… After all, all you blindies know each other well.
  • The thought of you running scares your off duty Guide Dog so much that he proceeds to jump on you to make you stop.
  • You wear ear plugs to gigs… your ears are very valuable.
  • Walking along you hold on to your friend’s arm EVERYONE assumes you’re a couple.
  • Audio Description gets you VERY excited.
  • You forget that the friends you are meeting can see, you text them telling them exactly where you are sitting instructions on how to navigate to your position and what colour jumper you are wearing.
  • ‘How long is your cane?’ is a totally innocent question.
  • You spread Marmalade on your toast and take a big bite… Only to discover its actually mustard.
  • You walk into glass doors.

I’m Still Here

I have not quit blogging, died or had some terrible accident that has resulted in the lack of posting – I have just been very busy.

A woman with a white guide dog sat on her left

Mum and Tara

University is as hectic as ever, things still fail to run smoothly it seems like the rest of my formal education at university is going to be an uphill struggle against inaccessibility, primitive attitudes towards inclusion and a complete lack of organisation that runs through the place. In short its not going to well, is very stressful but also interesting/fun.

Whilst on the subject of education I did not escape the funding crisis of the student loans failings. Admittedly I applied late but I am still to reciee my student loan. There have been multiple phone calls to my LEA (Local Education Authority) and I am assured it will al be sorted within 6 weeks. Here’s hoping I get some money soon it has been a seriously living on the breadline.

A lot has happened since my last post here, my eye condtion has stableised which was a nice surpise, I never really know how long that will last but its  a bit of a relief.

I now confess to having a bit of a caffeine addiction. I have discovered the wonder that is an expresso and its good! I love a good coffee more than I ever have before. Redbull and other highly caffeinated drinks have got me through some seriously dull lectures and for this I am thankful.

My mum’s Guide Dog Ian has retired and she has trained with a new guide dog called Tara. So now as I am home for Christmas we are a 3 dog household which is a bit of a shock to the system for all of us dogs included.

I have a job! I work 10 hours a week from home or uni or wherever I am really. I am a community executive for a word of mouth project at uni. I recovered from the train journey to get to the training and the 5 days of basically being stuck at a service station in the middle on nowhere with internet at £5 an hour!

Mark and I

I am in love, for those of you that don’t stalk me on facebook I am now in a relationship with a fantastic guy from the Hampshire VI Cricket team called Mark. He also did the Guide Dogs sponsored event that I roped him into.

Writing of cricket I should also mention that I am now joint player welfare officer for Hampshire VICC. I am sharing the position at the moment because I have to do a few courses in child protection before I can officially take on  the role but it’s still great stuff.

This first term at uni I have also found faith in the man upstairs, I go to the christian Union at uni most weeks and also go to Life Church Southampton. The CU guys are a fantastic bunch and very kindly brought me a large print bible which means the world to me. We also went Ice skating together Just before christmas I can’ ice skate but went along anyway and it was a great evening dispite it being really cold!

Heres a few of us in Winchester, I’m not quite sure who took the photo, if I was I would attribute it but hey ho, it’s originally from facebook in the public doman so please don’t sue me people!

A Group of people

CU and Friends Iceskating 09

Just Giving!

Good evening to you all dear readers, I am forever thankful that you actually look at this stuff and at least some of you apparently like it and come to visit time and time again!

I am however about to beg… In September I am going to be rescued from drowning by a Newfoundland dog.

I’m hoping I won’t actually be drowning but saying that I have not been swimming in  a long time, anyway I digress, I am after sponsorship for this event to raise money for The Guide Dogs For The Blind Association (UK).

As you should by now be aware I benefit from having a Guide Dog (Gus) so this is a charity very close to my heart. Having Gus has boosted my confidence and made me so much more independent, we go everywhere together and are very rarely apart. There are also the benefits that Gus is my companion, I am never alone because he is always their, at hospital appointments, at uni, at Guide Meetings, at cricket… The list would be endless.

Please help me to raise money to insure that Guide Dogs can continue there vital work for years to come.

Click on the button on the right to sponsor me or visit http://tiny.cc/kXB8M

Apple iPhone now accessible to those with VI!!!

Apple – Accessibility – iPhone – Vision.

THE  iPhone is now ACCESSIBLE!

I’m utterly stunned and shocked and compleatly over the moon,  Apple have kitted the new iPhone 3GS with a text to speech engine based on the VoiceOver system standard on its Lepord operating system and the latest iPod Nanos.

The system allows users to make full use of the touch screen and gestures without the need to rely on tacktile or visual feedback. (To find out how take a look at the above link.)

It’s utterly amazing and I have in the last 5 minutes gone from an iPhone hater to a lover, now I NEED one.

My mobile phone contract ends very soon and I wanted to get a blackberry but the Text to speech engine for the Blackberry operating system has not been released in the UK yet, which meant I would be restricted to using TALKS as part of a Vodafone UK contract because I cannot afford to purchase the software.

Now its simple I can go with O2, get all the functionality of a Blackberry if not more without the need for additional software or a compromise in the phones capabilities.

The effect of it all

What’s been the effect of all this new eye stuff on my vision, my life and the way I live?

Bloody hell I was clumsy before but now seriously I am worse than ever,  everywhere I go it seems I cause a trail of destruction!
Any co-ordination I once had has now gone completely, and lets face it hand eye co-ordination has NEVER been my strong point.
Balance to has got worse I wobble a lot more than ever before, I’m falling a lot more than I have in a long time to and I’m rather tired with it all.
Possibly the worst bit is the eye strain, persistent headaches and being tired and grumpy all the time.
So in short I spill everything, walk into stuff, break things and am generally a walking disaster!
Oh well at least its amusing for you all to watch all my mishaps!

Recently

I have been rather busy, on Friday I went to beaulieu (yes I had to look up the spelling of that) it was great fun, we went on the monorail and on the old bus. we also went into the house and the Abby. The whole place was strangely un-accessible tho it did make me wonder how they got away with it, there appeared to be rather limited wheelchair access. only a few of there steps where marked…which was hazardous, there where lots of overhanging bushes and my most embarrassing “they could have done better on the access front” moment was there doors, when you pay for your entrance in to beaulieu you walk through a set of clear glass doors, I did not realise they where there! Anyway moan over it was really fun we had ice cream looked round gardens, got stuff blown every were in the cafe, went on a slightly scary monorail and looked at nice cars. we also went on the wheel thing where you look at the history of cars was really cool.

Then on Friday evening I went back to my friends and we played swing ball and a bit of catch and then had a very lush Chinese, it was a really lovely day!

Then on Saturday I went to a family anniversary party all my dads side of the family where there and it was my half-cousin’s 5th wedding anniversary and it was really fun, I spent a lot of time holding some very sweet baby’s, and giving them back when it was toilet time, did do quite a lot of nose wiping tho!

To be honest I’m writing this trying to hang on to those good things, I’ve been pretty down and alone, even wen I’m with other people

I’m finding the holidays harder than I thought, I never for a million years thought I would say these words but I’m missing college. At college there are places to go, things to be done, people to talk to and most importantly it’s a reason to get up in the morning, to make myself get up.

Anyway I’m doing better than I was on the last anti-depressants I think these ones might actually be helping….so we will see how it goes…only time will tell.

To end on a positive note, I’m going away on Tuesday!!! its only to slough which is most peoples idea of the most hellish holiday destination ever but I’m going to see my auntie and her partner and her dog so its good 😀