Category: Reviews & Resources

OCD Vs Perfectionism On The Mighty

If you ask people who have been diagnosed with OCD what the biggest misconception about their illness is, one thing comes up over and over.

We’ve all heard it: “I’m so OCD” people joke as they emerge from their wardrobe having spent a happy hour sorting it by season. They believe OCD refers to a quirk of character, a term for their perfectionism, even a synonym for high productivity. In reality OCD is very different and when the monster rears its ugly head compulsions made up of tiny and meaningless actions can consume hours. It’s far from efficient because, after all, tapping a desk or moving an object from side to side again and again in search of the ‘right’ feeling doesn’t cross things off your to-do list.

I think this video by The Mighty is perfect to show the difference between clinical OCD and perfectionism. The film shows two young women’s days side to side. If someone you know is a repeated offender of joking that they are ‘so OCD’ consider giving this a share and maybe they will learn something new.

Living with Me and My OCD By Claire Watkinson

I found out about ‘Living with Me and My OCD’ years ago. I was intrigued and excited to hear of a film exclusively about OCD and, even more excitingly, one that is directed and produced by someone who actually has the condition. I knew straight away after being in contact with Claire the producer that she would make sure that this film would give the best insight into OCD as possible. Recently the film came out and there was a screening event in Claire’s hometown of Sheffield. The film is now on OCD-UK’s youtube channel and has been praised by OCD Action.

The film includes interviews with people who suffer from OCD. It puts right the public perception that OCD is about ‘just being tidy’. It is shocking and eye opening in all the best ways, and truly shows the many forms this disorder can take. I’d really like to praise and thank all the contributors, as well as Claire of course, for being so honest in their accounts and allowing them to be shared. Some of the testimonies brought tears to my eyes because I could relate so strongly. If you have OCD this film will show you that you are not alone. If you don’t have OCD- this film will open your eyes and make you grateful you don’t. I seriously believe that this film is an epic step in the right direction for OCD Awareness and understanding.

Motivational Tattoos 

I’ve been trying out these temporary tattoos from motivationaltattoo.etsy.com


They are reasonably priced and once on skin can last four days! They include affirmations like: “be strong”, “I am enough” and “love yourself”. Great reminders for mindfulness, self care and a good tool to use instead of self harm. They are shaped like plasters and come in colourful, patterned or clear. They are a little fiddly to peel the plastic from- though well worth it!

I got these as a gift, what a great way to remind someone, or yourself, that you care!


Mental Health Communication Cards

A few months ago I did some work with Hannah Ensor of Stickman Communications to design some communication cards specifically to help people with mental health problems.

Hannah is amazing and one of my favourite people to throw ideas around with. She is very patient and willing to consider anything no matter how ‘Out There’ it may be. I was honoured to be consulted about these cards.

The new cards in the Mental Health range include:

  • “I think I need a hug”
  • “I don’t feel able to talk right now”
  • “I have depression…” (+description)
  • “I don’t feel safe right now”
  • “I have an anxiety disorder…” (+description)
  • “I have a condition which means I see the world differently…”
  • “I don’t feel able to talk right now”
  • “Please may I talk to you?”

Plus the poignant: “Cuppa Needed!”

These cards are incredibly handy and provide a quick way to indicate how you feel or what you need. I find that they are really useful if you want to discreetly make someone aware that you need some extra support. They are also great for explaining what would help on an ‘off’ day. I have a lot of cards from Stickman Communications split between two lanyards, one for home use and one for in public. Hannah has so many amazing cards in her shop that are helping people deal with a huge variety of different medical conditions.

I’m hoping that this could be the start of a great partnership between Stickman Communications and Upside Down Chronicles to get helpful products out there for people with mental health problems and other invisible illnesses.

What would your ideal card say?

I AM BORDERLINE: A Short Film

Potential Trigger Warning:

 

“You are a person who feels the highest of highs and the lowest of lows”

This short film is absolutely beautiful. It represents perfectly experience of living with Borderline Personality Disorder.

As a condition it is talked about so little and is heavily stigmatized. This film stresses the complete turmoil the condition puts a person into rather than focusing on how it looks from the outside. I particularly like the positives that are mentioned: How ‘Borderlines’ are often resilient despite having endless experiences of pain and hurt. To live with this condition you become a survivor.

“You are resilient and you try again. You’ve suffered so deeply, so much of the time. You push on; searching for love, hope and compassion.”

Stickman Communications’ Pacing Pack Review

This post is a review of some awesome products from Stickman Communications– a fantastic company that supports disabled people through a range of quirky designs and sassy explanations.

I use their line of communication cards on a daily basis and was lucky enough to be sent a ‘Pacing Pack’ to review by the genius behind the designs, Hannah Ensor.

After a couple of months testing here are my thoughts…

Pacing Magnet Set

These magnets are really quite groovy. They cover all the days of the week, times of day, intensity levels of activities and also meal, snack, and exercise prompts.

I found being able to timetable my day really useful and the magnets acted as good reminders to add on easily forgotten essentials; like exercise and down time. There are enough magnets for you to either plan a day in detail or block out a full week. Included in the pack is a black dry-wipe pen and eraser. The magnets are quite small so can’t hold much detail, but I would suggest writing in the pen around the magnets if you want to add additional information. These magnets are really fantastic for seeing what a day or week will look like when you are planning. They stick really well to magnetic surfaces and are beautiful bright colours. They were originally intended for fridges but I like to stick mine on my whiteboard in my room so I can see them during the day.

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Pacing Post-It Notes

The second part of the pack is this cute little post-it note stack.

 

They allow you to divide your day into three activity levels: ‘easy stuff’, ‘okay stuff’ and ‘challenging stuff’. I find these notes really useful because it encourages me to balance my day so that it is manageable. They stick really well to walls, boards, paper- anywhere you might need to be reminded about your plans.

Pacing Pack Crib Sheet

This is a handy little resource for people with fatigue problems and their friends and family. It is easy to understand, colourful and illustrated. Stickman Communications prides itself on its no-jargon resources, and this “Getting The Best Out of Life” sheet certainly follows that ethos.
 

I found this pacing pack really useful and I’d particularly recommend it to anyone who is newly diagnosed with a chronic condition or just learning to manage their illness. I’d also recommend it to any parents of disabled children who might need help with teaching their child how to plan around and for their condition. Good pacing and planning skills are vital for anyone with a chronic illness. I love the pack and would like to thank Hannah for allowing me to review it.

You can buy the pack here

For the whole range click here

BBC Three’s Defying The Label Season Awards

About:

BBC Three recently ran a disability season called ‘Defying the Label’. They showed many programmes on the topic of disability and the content was massively diverse. I watched all of the episodes featured in the season, not all of which are mentioned below, and generally really enjoyed it. Many of the episodes are available on BBC Iplayer and a full list can be found here. I have made my own ‘awards’ for the programmes I felt stood out from the crowd, but please know that this is based on my own opinion and experience watching the programmes alone.

Most Entertaining: The Unbreakables

The Unbreakables was a fantastic three part look into the wonderful students at National Star College. Students there have multiple disabilities, many with some form of physical and learning disability. The episodes presented us with fantastic stereotype-busting characters such as Xenon the ladies man and Lewis the party animal. There were hilarious scenes and heartbreaking ones. I loved this series.

(I’ve also visited NSC and it really is that brilliant!!)



Most cringeworthy
: Find a Home for my Brother and Disabled in an Instant

Oh dear. These programmes really did not do it for me. The emphasis seemed to be on how being disabled makes you different in a bad way. At times I found the narrators squirm enduring with their attitudes. I was hoping for coverage of the major troubles disabled people find when looking for housing. Alas, instead we followed the sister of a disabled young man who has been asked to leave his specialist school. He has severe learning difficulties and features surprisingly little in the documentary. Instead it feels like we go on a magical mystery tour of people who have the burden of looking after disabled people. To me I was horrified when a potential cure begins to be explored as a way of fixing her brother. In ‘Disabled in An Instant’ we meet lots of disabled people talking about how awful it is to be disabled. Need I say more?



Most shocking
: The World’s Worst Place to be Disabled

This programme was stomach turning. Sophie Morgan goes to Ghana to see what Human Rights Watch describes as unimaginable for herself. Exploring prayer camps, fetish priests and huge discrimination- this is a truly horrifying watch as we learn how disabled children are killed in Ghana under the thin guise of a spiritual ceremony.

 

Most Informative: The Ugly Face Of Disability Hate Crime

I’m a big fan of Adam Pearson- he has raised the profile of facially disfigured people massively and has a fantastic sense of humour. This documentary was a great example of a disabled person kicking ass to fight discrimination. The documentary was following his personal battle against social media giants allowing threatening comments about his disfigurement to stay online and his wider fight to bring awareness of disfigurements to the public eye. The episode also raises awareness of how disability hate crime goes massively unreported to the police, suggesting it is being tolerated by disabled people rather than reported. Did you know that disability hate crime is even treated judicially less seriously than hate crimes against other minority demographics? It felt like a programme about disability for disabled people. Excellent.

 

Eye Opening: A Very Personal Assistant

Three part series following disabled young people who are looking to employ like minded carers of the same age. This was a really eye opening and interesting series with really positive disabled role models. I think it would really encourage unemployed young people to explore the possibility of becoming a carer.

 

Special Mention: The Boy Who Wanted His Leg Cut Off

A special mention must go to 11 year old Dillon Chapman and family who share the journey of trying to free Dillon from the agony of having a leg of tumours. I really thought this programme was beautiful, from the fact that Dillon is so sure of what he needs to the fact that his parents support him no matter what. This was the only programme about disabled children in the series but it definitely astounded viewers.

 

Overall Triumph: The Unbreakables

The Unbreakables was wit doubt my favourite series in the season. It will have done miracles for the learning difficulty community in the way of awareness raising and touched on so many wider issues like disability and sex, alcohol and housing. It had me crying with laughter and empathy. An amazing legacy to the disabled community.


My Thoughts on the Season Overall:

The Defying The Label season has been many things. Inspiring, educating, funny and frustrating. Why were sensory disabilities like sight and hearing impairments completely ignored? Why was the focus only on learning and physical disabilities? Why were children with disabilities not so prominent? What about mental illness? These are all questions I would love to ask. The season certainly hit the spot in the way of disabled narratives with many documentaries having a disabled person as the investigator but still sadly most being wheelchair users, which the public see as the ‘stereotype’ of disability. It would have been good to have some more  invisible disability representation to over come this. Overall I feel my hours were well spent on this season and I look forward to disability seasons in years to come.

Inside Out: Five Concepts That Make It The Deepest Disney Film Yet

I didn’t expect to come out of a Disney movie with a feeling of being completely emotionally drained. I had been excitedly waiting to see Inside Out for quite a while, but I wasn’t expecting it to leave me in such dewy awe. In my opinion it’s the deepest Disney film yet.

In the film we meet emotions: Anger, joy, fear, disgust and sadness who live inside eleven year old Riley’s head. They control her every move and even her dreams. The film takes you on an exploration of the human nature. The most abstract concepts of the mind are made into perfectly formed symbols given to you on a technicolor plate. There are silly jokes for kids, but I think these concepts will have a hard hitting affect on adults the world over.

  1. Happiness will do anything to find you. In the film the character of Joy controls most of Riley’s life when she is younger. When she finds herself detached from Riley she tries anything and everything to get back into her life. I found this really powerful to watch and I do believe it is true- we all want happiness and the world wants happiness for us. We just need to find each other.
  2. All emotions have their place. Be it Sadness, Anger, Disgust or Fear they all have their place in life and are all just as valid. There is no ‘bad’ emotion. They work together to drive us and help us determine what we want and how we can achieve it, as well as protect us from what will hurt us. We need all of these emotions to be human!
  3. As you grow up into being an adult emotions merge and divide. The world is no longer happy or sad, there is a whole rainbow of things you can feel. I found this amazing chart that shows how the different characters can merge to create many more emotions. Teenage years are filled with this merging; making them a very rocky time in anyone’s life.
  4. We don’t always know what we feel. Our emotions have a huge affect on our body, what we choose to do and how we choose to act. They are very probably the most powerful thing we have. But we can get so caught up in the world that we forget these basic building blocks for everything we do.
  5. Whether you are neurotypical or atypical, they are all in there. You might feel filled with Sadness but happiness can be found if you dig deep enough, no matter how hopeless you might feel. As someone with EUPD I wasn’t sure how much I would connect to this film, but if anything I felt more connected to how my mind works. It sounds silly but AS psychology didn’t make me think so deeply about myself!

The brain is horrendously complex but thankfully we don’t have to completely ‘get it’ in order to use it. This film enlightened me, I found myself thinking my own emotions into characters and imagining my own personality islands.

Inside Out is as deep as you want it to be. Take it as a light-hearted Disney film, or dig under the surface to be waist deep in  psychological and human morals. I think this film will be of more interest to adults than to children because of this, and I’m not sure how much of these concepts children will gather from the plot but I don’t often go to the cinema to think so deeply!

A dream of mine would be for Pixar to create a series of shorts explaining mental illness through the characters. It will never happen, But wouldn’t it be nice?! If you are interested in the mind you should definitely get to the cinema and see this film soon!

Kids in Crisis: The Bits It Missed

Channel 4 recently showed a documentary discussing problems in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, focusing mainly on the country’s overall lack of child inpatient psychiatric beds and lack of early intervention provision. Over the past year I have noticed many news articles and reports on these subjects. But there is one thing I think they missed.

Yes there aren’t enough CAMHS inpatient beds, but there also aren’t enough staff to cover the ones we’ve got.

In both CAMHS inpatient units I have been to there have been serious problems with staffing. Friends of mine have confirmed experiencing the same problems in other units. There are often not enough regular staff who work on the ward on shift, so numbers have to be topped up with bank or agency staff. Sometimes these workers become regulars on the unit, thus getting to know patients. However a lot of the time they are coming on to the unit for the first time, know none of the patients and have very limited experience of the setting. In one of the CAMHS units I went to, which was a closed unit, patients used to use the ignorance of the agency staff to break the rules. One of the most notable examples I remember of this was a member of agency staff being persuaded by patients that the toaster could be plugged in in various bizarre places around the ward. This resulted in patients being found smoking in an ensuing after lighting cigarettes from the toaster. It’s funny but there are many other examples I could give ended with a patient getting hurt.

Having a team of regular staff covering a shift is vastly different to having numbers topped up by agency or bank. Funnily enough patients, often with complex past relationships with adults, tend not to open up to relative strangers. Though these workers count as bodies on the ward a lot of their work is observation and directing regular staff to the young people who need them.

If there were enough staff in each unit the quality of care and patient turnover would be much higher. The increased knowledge built up over time of patient’s case alone can make a huge difference to care. Bank and agency staff get a short handover about the ward and the patients however the information given is based on what has happened recently. Staff nurses and health care assistants who work on units regularly will build up the trust and the life story (often quite complicated) of a patient; thus helping them identify crisis triggers, early warning signs and risks.

The documentary did portray really well other points, such as how children and young people can be moved all over the country from hospital to hospital and how this is often a fast decision based on their condition fluctuating. I felt sorry for parents who had to deal with their child being passed around, sometimes hundreds of miles away from home. Dealing with relapse is hard enough but if it results in more moves and being further away from home it will be even more devistating for patients.

Some psychologists are campaigning for CAMHS services to cover up to the age of twenty five. I will probably write another blog about this soon as it is something I believe passionately in. The move from children to adult services is drastic and for many traumatic. The attitude appears to shift from CAMHS teaching you to cope with what you have to adult telling you to just deal with it. There is a huge difference.

A mother expressing her concerns over her daughter becoming institutionalised made me think of the many, many, young people I have met for whom moving from unit to unit has become a way of life. I have met patients who have been in hospital for years at a time. That is years of living away from home, years out of education and years without socialising with people who are mentally healthy. Who can blame these young people for becoming comforted by the safety and routine? Especially when many will have had bad experiences with outpatient care or have difficult home lives. These units are vital but there needs to be clear paths for patients to move on.

To sum up:

  • We need to staff the beds we have appropriately to improve the safety and the treatment of young inpatients. Then we need more beds.
  • Families should not have to wait for a young person to deteriorate in order for them to become an inpatient to get the treatment they need. Early intervention must improve.
  • Ideally every region should have some sort of provision for mentally ill young people.
  • Where possible young people should go directly to the most suitable security level provision to avoid more moving, and disrupting other patient’s care in lower security units.
  • Young people should be covered by children’s and a transitional service until the age of 25. The 18 – 25’s bracket could be used as a transitional stage between the two services and their massively different approaches.
  • There are so many things that need to change. 6% of the Mental Health budget is not enough to support the country’s mentally ill young people.