Let the exams begin!

In eight days I will have officially begun my leaving cert (its about time) so from today I will be spending most of my time going over things and getting into the right mind frame for the exams. I am going to have to leave my blog until the end of the leaving cert unless I get bored of studying.

As soon as the exams finish there will be plenty of new posts and new photos but for now I best go and get ready for some study!!

Photo of the day. :)

Graduation :)

Just a few photos from Graduation the other night :)

Drugs and mental health..... get the facts.

Drugs are a bad thing without a doubt provided they are not prescription drugs which can actually improve an illness etc as long as they are taken as prescribed. Many people do not know the facts about drugs and more importantly they do not know the affect drugs can have on your mental health as well as your physical health. 

So here are some need to know facts about drugs and your mental health:

  • Drugs such as cannabis, alcohol, ecstasy and heroin are all drugs called psychoactive. These drugs all have the ability to affect your mood, bring up certain emotions or lessen others.
  • Drugs can expose bad feeling which you never knew you had.
  • The unwanted effects of drugs can stay with you longer than expected if you already are experiencing a mental health issue which you may not have been aware of. 
  • If you are taking drugs and get the dose wrong you could permenetly damage your brain by upsetting the chemical balance.
  • You may experience something called drug-induced anxiety disorder. This can cause you to experience panic attacks.
  • You may begin to experience something called drug-induced psychosis which is where you believe things which are not true or experience hallucinations.
  • You may also experience something called drug-induced mood disorder. This may cause you to feel tired, depressed, have racing thoughts, impulsive behaviour and experience elevated moods.

There have also been studies which have shown that the use of psychoactive drugs may cause ongoing mental health problems in some people. Although it is not clear why this may happen it is thought that the drug you are using may trigger a mental illness you were not aware that you had. It may also be caused as a result of the drug chaining the way a certain chemical affects your brain function. Certain drugs may cause different mental health issues.

Here are two drugs which can cause different mental health issues:

Ecstasy and depression
"Ecstasy is an amphetamine that causes hallucinations. It works by making serotonin more available and gives you a sense of euphoria when you take it. Serotonin is a chemical naturally found in your brain which regulates your mood. It is sometimes called the ‘happy hormone’. Ecstasy causes your brain to release a much higher amount of serotonin than usual. Over time your natural stores of serotonin may drop so much that you may never have the same levels as you had before you started using drugs. If lots of serotonin means euphoria than lack of serotonin means depression. You may experience short-term depression in the days after you use ecstasy but we need more research about the long term effects."

Cannabis and schizophrenia
"Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness which may cause you to hear voices in your head and believe that other people are trying to control or harm you. Research shows a link between cannabis and people with schizophrenia. It is possible that if you have a pre-existing risk which you may not be aware of, there is a much higher chance that using cannabis will trigger an episode of schizophrenia – increasing risk by between 50% - 200%. These risks are also greater in younger people who use cannabis and those that smoke it more regularly. Using cannabis as a teenager may be a risk to many aspects of your mental health. One of the compounds is cannabis – THC (tetrahydrocannabinoid) – gets you ‘high’. THC is very similar to endocannabinoids which are naturally found in your brain. These regulate other chemicals that control many aspects of your brain function and behaviour. Because THC is so similar, it can mimic the effects of these natural compounds and take over these aspects of your brain function. The long-term effects of using cannabis in your teens may be caused by the influence of THC on your brain’s chemical systems at a time when your brain is still developing."  (drugs.ie)

I have never experiment with drugs and as I already suffer from depression it would not be a good idea for me to do so. While it is not ideal for anybody to experiment with drugs people do and people become addicted. it is hard to give up an addiction but it is possible. While my addiction was with self-harm I am aware it is different from a drug addiction but I managed to overcome it and so can you. Any addiction is possible to overcome be it alcohol, drugs, self harm or anything else it is possible. 

If you are contemplating taking drugs and have not yet done so I would urge you to read over this post to ensure you get the facts about drugs and your mental health but I would also urge you to visit www.drugs.ie to find out more about the affect drugs can have on you. So please think before you act!!

Photo of the day. :)

Found this on my phone- Thanks Shane 

How can the weather affect your mood?

Many people may not realise that the weather plays an important role in how we feel. When the weather is good we can feel good while when the weather is bad we can feel bad. This is not always the case though. Some people may feel bad with good weather while some people may feel good with bad weather. It all depends on the person you are. Here are some things  you should know about the weather and the way it can affect a persons mood.

  • Some people may become easily agitated when the weather is good and temperatures are high.
  • Some people may feel tired, fed up and even depressed with the weather is bad, temperatures are low and its rainy outside.
  • A study in the US has proven that with long periods of good weather and high temperatures levels of crime may increase due to lack of activities to do during good weather but also because during good weather many people can become more irritable and hostile.
  • Some people may experience a condition called SAD. This stands for seasonal affective disorder. This is depression which occurs mainly/only during the winter months. The main cause of this has been found to be a lack of sunlight which can upset your bodies internal clock and upsets your routine.

Although the weather may affect our mood we can do things which can help improve out mood. It is important to look on the upside of the weather changes (especially in Ireland) If the weather is good and it is sunny and warm take advantage of it. Here are some things you can do when the weather is good that can keep your mood up:

  • Invite some friends around and have a BBQ
  • Spend a day at the beach with some family or fiends.
  • Go for a nice walk in the phoenix park.
  • Spend the day at the zoo.
  • Go get some friends and have a game of football or frisbee.
  • Take your dog for a walk and let him/her go for a swim.
  • Just take some time to sit in the garden in to sun and relax after all its not very often we get sun in Ireland so don't let it pass you by!

If the weather is bad like it usually is in Ireland you can still take advantage if it:

  • Spend some time with the family, play some board games or go for a meal.
  • Go to an indoor activity centre or go and do a bit of bowling.
  • Head out to a shopping centre for some retail therapy.
  • Spend time curled up with some hot chocolate and a few good movies.
  • Do some baking.
  • Maybe spend some time redecorating the house to brighten things up a bit.
  • When in doubt there is always something around the house that you can make use for when it comes to a bit of arts and crafts.

The weather may be able to ruin your mood but don't forget we all have the power to prevent it. So don't let the weather take over and just remember not matter what the weather is like there is always something good you can do!!

Photo of the day. :)

Some fun at Grad night :)

What can alcohol do to your mental health?

huge part of sixth year in many schools around the country is the infamous Grad night. These are usually organised by sixth year students in schools all around the country. I do need to make this point clear before I go on any further that grad night is usually not associated with the  school and is completely organised by the students in the school. 

This night is basically in my opinion a chance for sixth years and some fifth year to let of some steam and take a break from the books. Although this is my opinion it is far from reality. The reality of what happens during grad night is people drink and then drink some more and if they haven’t collapsed due to drunkenness or vomited they may decide to drink some more. I myself do not drink often and when I do drink I wouldn’t have much more than a glass of Fat Frog due to personal preferences. Many people who attend these Grad nights dont drink and if they do they drink sensible. Often on nights like these a sober person can see people making fools of themselves and being too drunk to even notice. Not only that but people who may be sober are also also given the chance to see young girls falling all over guys and young guys falling all over girls. This however is often the minority from stories I have heard from numerous different people from different schools as people often have control over their drinking habits.

This year like many of my peers I attended my Grad night and well I enjoyed it. I was sober, responsible for myself like many of my friends and peers. I was able to have a good time with very little alcohol and plenty of water. I enjoyed the dancing, the gossip and the usual party atmosphere that was present in the club that night. I was glad to wake up the next morning without a pounding headache and nothing more than very dark circles under my eyes from arriving home late and getting very little sleep.

Now that I have basically given you the background as to why I am writing this post I am going to get down to the facts of what alcohol can do to your mental health. Alcohol  can have a damaging effect on your mental health. The damage that can be caused by drinking alcohol on your mental health are:

  • As alcohol is a depressant it slows down a persons brain activity. In small amounts this can be good as it eases stress and helps people to relax but often people drink too much and this is not the case.
  • If a person is already feeling down before they begin drinking, if they drink too much they may become very depressed. The opposite happens if a person is very happy before they drink they may become ecstatic. When alcohol is consumed beyond a person’s tolerance (tolerance varies from person to person), feelings and perceptions of the world may become magnified. (spunout.ie)
  • If alcohol is taken too often and too much is taken it can lead to the levels of a persons anxiety increasing.
  • Mental health problems such as depression have been linked to long term and very heavy drinking in some cases.
  • As many people become confused when they drink alcohol and their thoughts and perceptions of things  change, there has been studies which have shown that many suicides have happened after people have drank too much alcohol.

As someone who has never drank more than the recommend amount of alcohol I have never experienced a feeling of being drunk and to be honest after writing this post I am glad to say that I am not a drinker.  So if you take anything from this post please just consider what and how much you are drinking before you actually begin to drink.

Where to next?

The end of secondary school is nearing and the time for me to look again at my CAO choices is looming, so I got thinking about what I really want to do when I leave school. Im not so sure that I know what I want to do to be honest, I want to go to college, I want to get a job but I also want to live my life and explore.I have been thinking of what I would do if I dont get the  course I want to do and I have decided maybe I should travel, see the world, experience new cultures and go on a once in a life time trip. But as I was thinking about this money became a huge factor. The only way to get enough money for a trip like this is by saving and so I have decided that maybe I should go to college, get a part time hob, save some money and then head off on a trip around the world for a bit after college.

Who knows though? Maybe I should just wait and see where life takes me. Maybe I should not plan everything down to the last minor detail and maybe I shopuld just follow my heart and go in which ever direction my heart chooses.  I know that sounds really cheesy but maybe that is what I should do.

This is what I am scared of most about leaving school.... Not knowing what I am going to do next and where life is going to take me. But that could be the point of life, maybe I dont need to know where I am going in  life. Maybe it is all just a big waiting game that will one day revel the mystery as the why we are here on earth and what we are meant to do on this earth. I dont know.... maybe I should take a break from everyone and everything to see what I really would like to do with my life or maybe I should just wait and see what happens, after all everything happens for a reason.

Green Ribbon month.

Have you ever talked about mental health?
Have you ever wanted to talk about mental health but were afraid? 

Our society has developed a stigma around mental health making it a taboo subject . Maybe it is the fear of the unknown or maybe it is that people feel there is no need to talk about mental health, whatever the reason may be it is because we don't talk about mental health that it is a taboo. This silence of mental health needs to change and it needs to change now. It is because of this stigma  that many people are suffering in silence to scared and often ashamed to seek help.

This May is Green Ribbon month. All throughout May, Green Ribbons will be given out to people, free of charge to encourage people to begin to talk openly about mental health. It is hoped that like the pink ribbon which is associated with Brest cancer the green ribbon will too be associated with something, this however will be mental health. Green ribbon month is not about making money but is about raising awareness and encouraging people to speak about mental health. It is hoped that by speaking about mental health the stigma will be reduced. Everyone of us has a part to play in reducing the stigma of mental health and all we have to do is talk.

When talking about mental health you don't have to have a mental illness, you don't  need to be a psychiatrist or a psychologist and you certainly don't have to be an expert on mental health, all you have to do is talk. This May it is hoped that Green Ribbon month will get people talking about mental health and more importantly your  experience with mental health. This can be talking about yourself, or talking about someone close to you who is affected by mental illness and its impact on you.

I'm not going to lie, I struggled to talk about mental health too. It was mainly because I had no experience with mental health or mental illness and to be honest I was never really taught about mental health in school or at home, for that matter. It wasn't until I was struggling with my own mental health issues that I began to learn about mental health and I began to talk about mental health. If I wasn't diagnosed with depression and if I did not experience self-harm or suicide attempts to be honest I'm not sure if I would talk about mental health now. That's the thing you see, many people won't talk about mental health unless they have had experience with mental illness  themselves, and even if they have personal experience the stigma we as a society created is preventing them from doing so.

We need to get together to get people talking about mental health regardless of weather or not they have had an experience with ill mental health. The only way to reduce the stigma of mental health is by talking. One conversation at a time is all that is needed to gradually change the way people view mental health, after all out really doesn't take that much to ask someone how they are feeling.

When I began talking about my experiences with mental health I first began with my family. I guess it was easier for me to talk about it with them because they have seen me through my illness but it was still hard and they were shocked to know that I actually wanted to talk about it. They may have been shocked that I wanted to talk about my experience but they were 100% supportive and encouraged me to talk to them about how I was feeling and about my experience with mental illness. Soon after I got use to the idea of talking about mental health with my family I began to realise my friends needed to know how I was feeling. It was hard to explain to them how I was feeling and in the beginning they did not understand and to be honest that was kind of expected. I shared my feelings with them and my worries and soon enough mental health became a topic of conversation as normal as talking about a cute boy. I was scared I would be rejected or judged by my friends but I wasn't, I was supported and helped through my mental illness because of my friends. If it wasn't for my friends and family  I would not have found the courage to speak about my mental illness publicly. My friends and family listened to me at that is what I needed, I needed to be heard. Sometimes the best thing you can do for a person who is experiencing mental health difficulties or even someone close to someone suffering is to let them know that you are there for them and that you are there to list. My family and friends were there for me and they listened to me and that is all I ever needed them to do for me.

Now that I talk openly about mental health and also my experiences with mental health both good and bad, I have learned that it is not scary to talk about mental health. Talking about mental health is just the same as talking about physical health. I have learned from my own blog which is associated with mental health that people do in fact want to talk about mental health but they do not know how. When I gave the readers of my blog the chance to write guest posts about mental health they jumped at the chance. Often people are willing to talk about mental health but they are too scared to take the first move and begin a conversation themselves. If we find the courage within ourselves to start a conversation about mental health we are all playing our role in reducing the stigma of mental health. I hope that this May people will take the chance to talk about mental health.

I hope that people see that it is ok to talk about mental health and that it is ok to seek help if it is needed. This May is the perfect time for people all around Ireland who want to share their experiences to do so. Don't let anybody tell you any different, IT IS OK TO TALK ABOUT MENTAL HEALTH.

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