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Is it the low moods or the high moods that break you?

A useful exercise:

Sit, think, and consider this: when you go off a desired habit of yours, when do you usually do it?

Is it during high moods -- celebrations, victories, birthdays, holidays, parties, festivities, and happy moods?

Or is it during low moods -- anxieties, fears, doubts, losses, boredom, setbacks, and negative moods?

It's worth sitting and thinking this through. That way, you can be more vigilant during these times. If you know you tend to act stupidly, drink too much, spend money in ways you don't like, eat horribly, and treat people badly when you go to a bar when you're having a bad day... then stop going to bars when you're having bad days!

You are not an uneducated Victorian

On Talking about the taboo

For the placement year of my Psychology degree, I will be working in a psychiatric hospital. When this comes up, the obligatory congratulations are sometimes followed by “You’re brave”, “Don’t you find that scary?” or the more common 'I’d-rather-you-than-me' face. Although it will of course be challenging, I am not brave and no, I don’t find it scary.

Psychiatric hospitals and mental asylums are not synonymous. Psychiatric wards no longer resemble Randle McMurphy’s experience in 'One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest'.

The houses I will be working in are surrounded by green space. The rooms are fairly small, but personal, light and airy. The communal kitchen and living areas are comfortable and well-equipped. It reminded me of university halls – pleasant, but perhaps not somewhere that you would want to live forever.

And this is the point – such places are generally not a fixed address. Institutionalisation in the UK has been left in the 50s, but unfortunately public perception has not had the same revolution. In mental asylums, a century ago and in the 1940s – yes - those with poor mental health were sometimes chained to the wall, pumped with inappropriate medicine, institutionalised to only function within the ‘madhouse’ and subject to lobotomies - because apparently removing parts of the brain seemed an excellent way to restore a fully-functioning and ‘normal’ individual at the time.

But this is not representative of 2014. Back then, hiding away and asserting control over the vulnerable and powerless was society’s aim. Now, it is recovery. A few months is often the average stay on a psychiatric ward. The aim is to reach a point where one can function within society and to be given consistent support to live a ‘normal’ life, whatever that may be. Values and aims have changed. Awareness and attitudes towards the modern psychiatric hospital have been left behind – ignorance and an unnecessary fear continue to feed the stigma attached to mental illness.

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