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mental illness in the sims 4 [#blog4mh]

For simmers everywhere, making the perfect Sim is always fun – you get to customise appearance, voice, personality, clothing, and aspirations, all of which will affect the way your Sims behave. Something that has been rising in popularity in the mod market allows you to give your Sim traits related to mental illness. In January, I chanced upon Depressed Trait by saphryn and, of course, gave it to the Sim I named after myself. A few days ago, I found several more similar mods. I downloaded  Social Anxiety Disorder – Trait by iridescentlaura and Bipolar Trait by emile20 and got to playing. They are absolutely brilliant (in retrospect, I should not have started with a household of three Sims, each with social anxiety, bipolar I, or depression).

It is difficult for individuals who have never experienced mental illness to empathise with those who live with it on a daily basis. Perhaps, with such mods, it could make it easier for mental illness to be understood, and give individuals a rough idea of just how frustrating living with mental illness can be.

Read more…

(I just wanted to show off my pretty Sim in the image)

 

walking away from someone with mental illness [#blog4mh]

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Sometimes we have to take a step back when a relationship is too harmful. This is an unavailable option for many caregivers but, when it comes to other relationships, walking away is sometimes the best option. We have to remember we are not doctors or professionals (well, most of us aren’t) – it is not our responsibility, or within anybody’s capability, to “fix” the person.

We are human – every “I’ll be here for you” has its own conditions, and we all have a limit as to how far we’d go for someone. It’s easy to promise unconditional and eternal love, but what happens when the person changes? What if the person becomes abusive? What if the person goes out of his/her way to hurt you? What if the person simply doesn’t seem there at all? All relationships come with (usually unspoken) agreements and, when breached, is inevitably affected.

I cannot fathom just how painful it is to walk away from someone you have a strong and lasting relationship with, let alone an intimate one. First, there are issues such as guilt – you have to back out on someone whom you care about, and you know it will hurt him/her; you fear that this decision ends with you having the person’s blood on your hands. Next, you have to think about how you want to end this relationship. Do you slowly fade out? Do you one day disappear? What if the person refuses to let you go? All this requires careful consideration and assessment of both of your mental states, coping ability, and situation.

The consequences of not walking away can be harmful to the both of you. You may end up causing more harm staying than if you walked away. You may end up pushing yourself past your breaking point, causing harm once more. Your frustration may build slowly, making the relationship more strenuous. Dragging out this unhealthy relationship is, well, unhealthy. All this can affect you psychologically, socially, and even physically.

There is no easy answer to this dilemma, but it is something that, at some point during a relationship of any nature, may be considered, even if just for a few minutes and that’s okay – it doesn’t make you a bad person.

First posted on The Mental Health Repository: Winding Through The Willows.

launching the mental health blog community – 20/04/2017

[UPDATE] The site is up and running – http://throughthewillows.com

Not too long ago, I decided to start a project – to create a site whereby Singaporeans can find available resources and have open discussions regarding mental health. Today, I have six individuals working on the site with me, and it was them who came up with the title – Winding Through The Willows.

What sets this site apart from other mental health blogs

This blog doesn’t just look at recounts of experiences with mental illness, which most mental health blogs do. Instead, recounts and opinion pieces are merely categories.

Other categories we have (for now)

Resources: Organisations, downloadable content, events, mobile game applications, etc.

Coping: Sharing of (healthy) coping mechanisms, and readers can even submit relevant pictures (e.g. a pet, a painting, a location).

Informative: Mental health and illness are explained in layman terms here, and news related to the topic will be posted. Risk factors will also be discussed. All content in this category are required to be backed up with at least one credible source.

The site’s official launch date is 20th April 2017.

Continue reading “launching the mental health blog community – 20/04/2017”

starting a mental health blog community

I was thinking of creating a community of (but not exclusively) mental health (MH) bloggers. Its focus will be on Singapore, but international writers and contributors are welcome. A new MH blog will be created together as a group. Writers remain the rightful owners of their work – they can submit old posts from their own blogs, and they still own the rights to their work after submission. There is the option to stay anonymous. Contributors can be anyone, from professionals and caregivers to individuals with psychiatric conditions.

The aim of this project is increasing MH literacy in Singapore – helping people understand MH and mental illnesses; let people know of resources available, and where (and when) to seek professional help – and support – letting others know that they are not alone.

I have a few ideas in my head, and I’d like to brainstorm with those who are interested in such a communal MH blog. I’m not only looking for MH bloggers, and not everyone involved in the brainstorming process will have to write for the blog.

Note that, right now, I only have a very brief and general idea of what I (think) I want for this project, and I don’t know if it will even be executed. Do drop me an email or leave a comment if you’d like to be a part of this, or just want to give some input. 

suicide prevention day: suicide and mental illnesses

It’s finally suicide prevention day! For the concluding post of this (very short) series of posts, I’m going to write about suicide and mental illnesses (in case you haven’t already figured it out from the title). Main points I want to get across are
(1) Mental illnesses are to be taken seriously.
(2) Mental illnesses needn’t necessarily end in suicide; it’s not the end.

First off, here are some facts and figures about mental illnesses and suicide:

  • An estimated 2-15 % of persons who have been diagnosed with major depression die by suicide. Suicide risk is highest in depressed individuals who feel hopeless about the future, those who have just been discharged from the hospital, those who have a family history of suicide and those who have made a suicide attempt in the past.

  • An estimated 3-20% of persons who have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder die by suicide. Hopelessness, recent hospital discharge, family history, and prior suicide attempts all raise the risk of suicide in these individuals.

  • An estimated 6-15% of persons diagnosed with schizophrenia die by suicide. Suicide is the leading cause of premature death in those diagnosed with schizophrenia. Between 75 and 95% of these individuals are male

    ~ as cited in University of Washington

The highest three illnesses associated with suicide are major depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia. Major depression and bipolar should not come as a surprise. Why, then, are these illnesses not being taking seriously?

Let’s bring this closer to home. There are many boys in Singapore who get out of National Service by faking mental illnesses. Most commonly, depression. In just the past five years, I have met two people who have done so (and I did not try to conceal my disdain).

It is because of people like that, who shamelessly use mental illnesses as an excuse to get out of duties, that they are not being taken seriously. It is because of people like that that cause others to believe things like depression are made up.

Major depression, bipolar, and schizophrenia are very real illnesses. They are as real as cancer. In fact, they are also known to have biological causes. This means that it is out of a person’s control whether (s)he gets the illness or not, much like cancer. There are factors, including gene-envinroment interactions, that may increase or decrease one’s susceptibility to developing mental disorders, again, much like cancer.

Major depression and bipolar fall under the category of  mood disorder. Schizophrenia, on the other hand, is a psychotic disorder.

Major depression is often dismissed, especially in adolescents, as just being difficult or lazy. What is perceived as laziness is actually a severe lack of motivation. Not just motivation to do work, but motivation to live altogether (this includes doing ‘fun’ things like going out with friends). Despite the fact that it takes depressives additional effort to bring themselves to do what you deem normal, such as going to the bathroom, they are still able to accomplish plenty, like J.K. Rowling.

Bipolar is less understood by the general public than major depression is. Bipolar can be further split into bipolar-I and bipolar-II. Characteristics of bipolar-I include manic episodes. Bipolar-II on the other hand, include hypomanic and depressive episodes. I’m not here to talk about diagnostic criteria, though. Bipolar is sometimes seen as an artist’s best inspiration. The most commonly used example of this is Vincent Van Gogh, who is well known for his painting, The Starry Night.

While there is a negative connotation to the word “psychotic”, those with schizophrenia are not people who deserve to be locked up. With appropriate treatment, schizophrenics can contribute to society as much – if not more – than you can. Take for example Dr. John Forbes Nash Jr., a Nobel Prize-winning mathematician who lived with paranoid schizophrenia.

Mental illnesses need not necessarily lead to suicide – we can stop it, if we take it seriously enough. People need to stop faking mental illnesses just because they’re selfish.
Mental illnesses do not make someone an invalid – we need to look past the label and realise that they are not walking diagnoses, and they are so much more than their illness.

suicide prevention: what not to do

There are a lot of what to do and what not to do with a suicidal person posts. Most of these, however, are written by counsellors or therapists. Well, here is a list of what NOT to do, written by someone who has been there.

  • Threaten to call the cops
    We really don’t need the law involved in all this. It gets messy and complicated. Plus, having “suicide attempt” on your permanent record isn’t exactly something that would encourage us to live on.
  • Tell us we’re being stupid
    Calling someone stupid is a stupid way to talk someone out of suicide.
    Also, if wanting to die makes us stupid, then we’re stupid.
  • Tell us that other people have it worse
    “Psychological invalidation is one of the most lethal forms of abuse.” Having your feelings dismissed only brings about even more negative feelings that we become afraid to share, because they are dismissed anyway. We know that other people have it worse. We know that we’re lucky to have a roof over our heads. But we still feel like this. And we don’t know why. So don’t make us feel worse about it.
    “Psychological invalidation is one of the most lethal forms of abuse.” — Unknown
  • Tell us how selfish we are being
    What’s more selfish – forcing us to live when every day is a torture, or leaving because it hurts so much?
    “It’s been the years of abuse, neglected to treat the disorder that controls my youth for so long. I’m in a fleshy tomb buried up above the ground. It’s no use, why should I hold on?” — Jamestown Story
  • Say we need medication
    Yeah… See, we don’t like having to depend on antidepressants. We’re sick of how they make us feel. They don’t make us feel happy, like most people think they do. They’re not happy pills.
    “The chemicals will bring you home again.” — Pierce The Veil
  • Give up on us
    We can get difficult. We’ll accuse you of things. We’ll push you away. We’ll be complete assholes. Why? I quote John Green, “I’m a grenade and at some point I’m going to blow up and I would like to minimize the casualties“. We know that we will hurt the people (ie. casualties) around us if we kill ourselves (ie. explode). We know that the guilt will ride on your shoulders. If we get you angry enough, you’ll leave us. And then you won’t hurt as much when we die. That’s the logic. The truth, however, is that we need you.

This is post #3 regarding TWLOHA’s We’ll See You Tomorrow Campaign on suicide prevention.

Also, if you would like to know what being in our head feels like, try listening to Icon For Hire’s album Scripted (or y’know, just look up the lyrics).

suicide prevention: the right to die

I told myself I’d write one post per week regarding TWLOHA’s We’ll See You Tomorrow campaign. I did so on the first week. The second week, though, I forgot. Sorry. So this is Post #2.

In Singapore, attempted suicide is punishable by law. In 2014, 901 people were arrested for attempting to kill themselves1.

309.  Whoever attempts to commit suicide, and does any act towards the commission of such offence, shall be punished with imprisonment for a term which may extend to one year, or with fine, or with both. [Indian PC 1860, s. 309]
– Singapore Statues Online2

One of the more heard of cases of attempted suicide in Singapore include an 18-year old who got jailed for eight weeks after 13 suicide attempts. This is supposedly the longest sentence for attempted suicide in Singapore 3.

This brings up the issue of the right to die. There are the people who believe that suicide is a given right – it is my life, my choice to end it. They also believe in dying with dignity. Then there are others who are totally against the idea of taking your own life. Some of them find it blasphemous, some of them find it selfish.

Here’s just my point of view – I believe in the right to die.

Why, then, am I participating in a suicide prevention project? Why do I don TWLOHA merchandise? Because I believe that, if you want to die, it is your decision and nobody else’s. I have talked people out of suicide before, I have stayed up late on Skype with friends from TBP just to talk them out of it. But, see, all I’m doing is reasoning with them, and showing them what they have to live for.

If they decide to hang up the phone and die, it is their choice. I would be sad, yes. But it isn’t up to me. You can try to influence people’s decisions, but it is still their decision in the end.

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The view on the way down by Emma Wait

I suppose all I want to say now is that nobody has the right to “rescue” someone from suicide. Like how you don’t have the right to force someone to eat a burger, you don’t have the right to strap a person down to prevent him from committing suicide. But of course, if you do so, that is your choice.

1. http://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/courts-crime/more-arrested-for-attempting-suicide
2. http://statutes.agc.gov.sg/aol/search/display/view.w3p;page=0;query=DocId%3A%22025e7646-947b-462c-b557-60aa55dc7b42%22%20Status%3Apublished%20Depth%3A0;rec=0;whole=yes#pr309-he-.
3. http://news.asiaone.com/News/Latest+News/Singapore/Story/A1Story20121123-385319.html

I’ll admit that this post is a little messy and unstructured. My mind is just a little messy and unstructured right now, too. Thanks for reading up till this point though.

we’ll see you tomorrow (suicide prevention)

On September 10, 2015, it will be World Suicide Prevention Day. On August 12, 2015, To Write Love on Her Arms launched the campaign “We’ll See You Tomorrow”. From today until World Suicide Prevention Day, I shall strive to write at least one blog post related to suicide per week. For the first post, I just want to talk about the campaign theme We’ll See You Tomorrow.

amie Tworkowski

Some people don’t care about Tomorrow. Tomorrow is just another day, like the one before it, and the day to come after it, etc. Tomorrow is of little significance to them. They begin each day the same way, do the same things, and go back to sleep, then repeat. Their Tomorrow will probably become just another placid everyday scene. These people live well with routine ( and I commend their circadian systems). Well, either that or they spend their lives unhappy because they’re not pursuing something bigger, out of fear of change or failure. For those people, I have a quote for you by Paulo Coelho, ‘People are capable, at any time in their lives, of doing what they dream of.’ I digress. Sorry. I do that.

Some people look forward to Tomorrow with such hope and glee – it is another day of meeting your friends, eating foods that you like, kicking back with a book in hand; it is another day closer to that concert you’ve been anticipating, a day closer to the next festivity, a day closer to your next promotion. Perhaps the only thing you dislike about Tomorrow is that you might have to do some work. These people, filled with hope, have a passion for Tomorrow.

Some people look upon Tomorrow with disdain – it is another day to pretend to be happy around “friends”, being forced to eat when you just have no appetite, being unable to concentrate enough to even read your favourite book; it is just another day that you won’t be attending that concert because of anxiety, just another melancholic day closer to- to what? To your next break down? Probably. These people I’m talking about are the survivors, the spoonies, the depressives, the butterflies, the ones with #blithe, SS_123, Mia, Ana, SH… And the ones thinking about Catching The Bus.

You have to understand how difficult it is for these people, people like me, to face another Tomorrow. We’re sick of everything that life has thrown at us, like illnesses. Sure, we should count our blessings and not our misfortunes, but what happens when we get ostracized because of our misfortune? How are we supposed to not count our misfortunes when everyone around us is using them as reasons to not be our friends? We don’t really “not care” about the rejection, you know? We say they don’t bother us. But we’re only human. We care. It hurts. We have to pretend like it doesn’t. We also have to pretend to be as “normal” as possible so that maybe, hopefully, they’ll forget about our misfortunes and treat us as equal human beings. Then, Tomorrow comes and it is another day of the torment. Tomorrow is another war against ourselves. These people, filled with anguish, hate Tomorrow with a passion.

Obviously, some of us have better Tomorrows than others. So, maybe, we could just help make everyone’s Tomorrow a little bit better. Just a smile, pushing a lift button for someone, opening the door for someone, could make that person’s Tomorrow better.

Today, 96 people gave up on Tomorrow. Tomorrow could have been the day that somebody made better. Tomorrow could have been the day that everything started to look up. But they’ll never know now.

So hang in there because Tomorrow is only a day away, and

We’ll See You Tomorrow.

Continue reading “we’ll see you tomorrow (suicide prevention)”