If you follow me on Twitter, you may have noticed a few tweets about the mental health blogger convention I’m hosting next year. I’ve had a few questions about it, so I wanted to answer them all here. I’m so excited (and nervous!) about this event and I hope to see loads of you there.

Where is it?

It will be in Bournemouth, at the Queens Hotel.

This is roughly a ten minute walk from the train station and a two minute walk from the beach if anyone fancies wandering down afterwards. If you’re driving down, there is free parking at the hotel, but it’s limited. Don’t worry though, there is plenty of street parking around, though please be aware it’s all pay and display.

When is it?

Saturday 14th July 2018, 11am-6pm.

Will there be food?

There will be tea and coffee on arrival as well as a light buffet. If you have any allergies, please check with hotel staff on the day.

Where can I stay afterwards?

There will be a small amount of discounted rooms allocated to this event. Please contact the hotel directly to make a booking and explain that you are attending the event.

Failing that, there are loads of hotels nearby; my recommendations would be any of the Oceana Hotels or The Orchid, which is very affordable.

What’s the running order of the day?

I’m still nailing that bit down, but currently I have plans for the following:

  • Talks from people in the MH blogging community
  • Exhibition stands with products
  • A booth with a make-up artist/eyebrow lady (sculptor/artist/stylist/whatever the term is…!) giving makeovers
  • Potentially readings from authors and a stand-up set
  • Selfie area (I will also be running a competition for the best selfie!)
  • Lots and lots of mingling and great conversation with like-minded people, in a relaxed, comfortable environment

Sounds great – how can I buy tickets?

Tickets are £15 each and you can buy them here.

You won’t get a physical ticket, but I will be sending email confirmations, which you will need to have with you – on your phone is fine!

Can I vlog the event?

Please feel free to take photos on the day and write blog posts after – the more the better! However, at the moment, I think I’d prefer it if there wasn’t any vlogging (though I may film some of the talks myself). I only say this because I want everyone to feel comfortable and some people may not feel relaxed being on camera.

Is the venue wheelchair accessible?

Yes!

Help! I have more questions!

If you have any questions or concerns, please let me know in the comments, or drop me an email: geekmagnifique1@gmail.com

MH Blog Con logo

 

A while back I talked about how mental illness and therapy are portrayed in various TV shows.

I found this a really interesting post to write and since then, I’ve been particularly impressed by how mental health has been explored in two particular shows. Spoilers ahead – though I’m talking about season 5 of Suits and Star Trek TNG, so I wouldn’t worry too much!

Suits

This may sound strange, but when Harvey started having panic attacks at the start of season 5, I was thrilled. Finally we had a strong, confident man experiencing severe bouts of anxiety, rather than the tired, predictable portrayals I’m used to seeing (Big Bang Theory’s Stuart, I’m looking at you). I think this is such a great thing to see because it drives home the point that mental illness can happen to anyone – regardless of wealth, success or any other factors – and reminds people that outward appearances can be deceiving.

Harvey Specter having a panic attack

Harvey up until this point had been portrayed as a stoic character who, it could be argued, was not very in touch with his emotions. When things started to go wrong in his personal life though, it began to take a toll on him, and ultimately frightened him so much that he started seeing a psychiatrist.

In these sessions with Dr Agard, we see him resisting her efforts to help him, as he struggles to be honest with her. She starts to dig a bit deeper and it becomes clear that his current problems stem from much larger, more deep-rooted issues. I’m only a few episodes into the season, but I’m excited to see how this story line develops.

What I liked…

  • Harvey’s honesty with Mike when he tells him he’s having a panic attack.
  • Straight after, when Mike asks if Harvey’s alright, rather than brushing it off, Harvey admits he’s not.
  • The realistic way the panic attacks are portrayed, showing the overwhelming physical symptoms: racing heart, sweating, vomiting. I thought these scenes were very well done.
  • The fact that Dr Agard insists Harvey talks to her, refusing to just prescribe him medication. One thing I’ve learned is that talking therapies and medication go hand-in-hand, and I’m glad this is being explored on the show.
  • The balance between Harvey being vulnerable while also still being his usual self. Though I suspect he may continue to unravel and I’m interested to see where the show takes him, at the moment I like that he’s struggling, while still being high-functioning. It’s a realistic portrayal of what many people go through each day, and the way the anxiety is slowly creeping its way into his life and affecting his work as he tries to keep afloat is very relatable.
  • The way it showed that therapy isn’t an instant fix. My heart sank when Harvey triumphantly threw his medication away, because I thought the writers were just using the panic attacks as a one-off dramatic device. I’m so glad the therapist didn’t just say a few magic words and instantly ‘fix’ him. It’s much more realistic that he didn’t experience an immediate breakthrough and again, I’m excited to see how his experiences continue to develop his character.

…and what I didn’t

  • The ‘mind-reading therapist’ trope. When she told him ‘I had you pegged from the moment you walked in’ I have to admit I rolled my eyes slightly.
  • Dr Agard’s openness with Harvey. Some of what she divulges to him and the poker game they have later didn’t really ring true to me, but then again, I’m not a psychiatrist, so who knows?
  • This hasn’t happened yet, so it’s possibly unfair to put it in the dislikes column, but I have a feeling they will end up dating and I really hope they don’t.

The verdict

I’m a big fan of Suits and absolutely love Harvey as a character, so I’m really looking forward to seeing how he continues to try and overcome his anxiety. I sincerely hope he doesn’t just end up in a relationship with Donna and that’s the end of his panic attacks. I’m so sick of the ‘love fixes everything, even mental illness’ rubbish we see so much in films and TV shows.

Very important scientific side-note:

Would you just look at him? *Inserts a million heart eyes emojis*

Harvey Specter GIF

Star Trek: The Next Generation

I’ve been a huge fan of Star Trek since I was a kid. Everyone knows it’s always been ahead of its time in many ways, but I’ve started to notice recently that it was also ahead of its time in the way it tackled ‘difficult’ subjects like suicide and grief, while normalising the idea of seeing a counsellor.

What I liked…

  • The fact the Enterprise not only had a ship’s counsellor, but that she was an integral part of the bridge crew and a close confidant of the captain. It’s a shame this wasn’t a role that the other Star Trek franchises had.
  • The episode ‘Hero Worship’, in which a young boy attempts to avoid confronting the grief of losing his parents by ‘becoming’ an android and mimicking Data’s mannerisms. With Troi’s guidance, Data forms a strong bond with the child and helps him work through his feelings slowly rather than avoiding them.
  • The episodes following Picard’s assimilation into the Borg collective, as he tries to cope with his trauma and readjust to life back on the Enterprise.
  • The episode where Troi has to help her mother uncover repressed memories of the child she lost. This is all done very symbolically, with Troi delving into her mother’s Betazoid psyche to try and understand the self-preservation mechanisms her mind has put in place. Look out for a very young Kirsten Dunst!
  • Troi as a character. I always admired her integrity, compassion and empathic abilities.
  • Voyager also had a couple of great episodes, my favourite being ‘Extreme Risk’. After finding out all her Maquis friends are dead, B’Elanna starts to deal with her grief in unhealthy ways, such as taking part in extreme holodeck programs with the safety controls off.

…and what I didn’t

  • Nothing! Unless there are any episodes I’ve forgotten about (please comment if so!), as far as I’m concerned, any episodes that dealt with mental health, grief or suicide did so cleverly and sensitively.

Side-notes:

  • Deanna had the most incredible curls and was very much the envy of my frizzy-haired nine year old self.
  • I adore both of these kick-ass ladies and their friendship.

Deanna Troi and Beverly Crusher

And a cheeky but very special mention to…Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

I could (and probably will) fill an entire blog post with reasons I adore this show – go and watch it, now! It’s funny, relatable and moving in equal measures, and I promise you will fall in love with Rebecca Bunch.

Rebecca Bunch

If you want to watch any of the shows I’ve mentioned, they’re all available on Netflix. You’re welcome.

If you follow me on Twitter you may have seen that I’ve started a new chat for people who have experience with emetophobia. #ChatEmet takes place on Tuesdays at 7pm (GMT) and is a safe space for sufferers to share their story and discuss ‘Cure your Emetophobia and Thrive’ by Rob Kelly.

In the first chat we discussed our recent ‘wins’. A win is a breakthrough, no matter how small. It’s something you might have thought your emetophobia would never let you do. I would like to hear your wins – tell me what you’re proud of. Because you should feel ridiculously proud of yourself. Emetophobia is a terrible, debilitating phobia that had me starving myself and washing my hands until they cracked and bled. I want you to know that I understand and I’m so proud of you, even in those times when you think you’ve failed. Most importantly, I want you to know that you’re not alone. 

To get us started, here are some of my recent emetophobia wins. There will be a few OCD ones in there too, as for me the two issues overlap.

Eating chicken

Cooking chicken at home became a huge no-no for me and I would only eat it in restaurants on very rare occasions. I’m still a little bit nervous about eating it, but I’ve let friends cook it for me and am very partial to a cheeky Nando’s.

Washing my hands less

I still wash my hands more than the average bear but nowhere near to the extent I was before. Emetophobia Help was such a useful resource for me, especially for putting things into perspective when it came to norovirus.

Understanding the ways the virus can and can’t be transmitted, and that some of my safety behaviours were actually completely useless really helped me feel calmer. I quickly found it easier to ignore irrational thoughts.

Using the word ‘norovirus’

One of the strange things about emetophobia is how superstitious it can make you. Even though logically I knew it wasn’t possible, I had this strange belief that writing or saying the word norovirus would make me sick. I had little ‘knock on wood’ rituals and was very particular about the language I used when discussing anything to do with illness. Now though, when my brain tells me I’m being irrational, I listen to it. No more censoring myself!

I did the deed!

Yes, that’s right – I vomited. Three times in the last six months to be exact. And do you know what? I just got on with it. I stayed calm, cleaned up after myself and dealt with it how I think most people would. The first time it happened, that little bit of exposure helped me see that it’s actually not so bad, and gave me confidence in myself again. So when it happened again the next morning, I handled it just fine. SO. BLOODY. PROUD.

Have you experienced emetophobia? I am starting a new chat for people with emetophobia to share their experiences and discuss the book ‘Cure Your Emetophobia and Thrive‘ by Rob Kelly.

The first one will be taking place on Tuesday 5th September and will be a chance to introduce yourself and talk about how the chats are going to go.

I’m not planning on asking set questions, so it won’t be quite like other Twitter chats. Instead, I’ll get the conversation started and then help to keep it flowing.

A couple of things to bear in mind:

  • #ChatEmet is not a substitute for counselling or any other medical treatment. We’re not experts; we’re just here to share our experiences and discuss the book.
  • Please be mindful of the language you use. Some sufferers are triggered by words relating to vomiting. At the start of each chat I’d like everyone to say what they’re comfortable with so we can all work together to make it a safe space.
  • Please don’t be embarrassed. This is a safe, supportive space. We are all in the same boat and we’re here to help each other. At no point will anyone make you feel silly.
  • That said, there are always trolls online, so you have my promise that I will do all I can to deflect any negative comments.
  • I want your feedback! If you want to do anything differently, please let me know. This is all for you – I’m just here to get the ball rolling and act as a moderator of sorts.

I look forward to chatting to you on 5th September. Let’s tackle emetophobia together!

The wonderful Ross and Becky who run the Twitter chat #askrossandbecky are hosting their first ever event on September 9th.

#MHunch will be at Liverpool ONE and promises to be a great chance to meet fellow bloggers and mental health advocates.

I’m gutted I won’t be able to make this one, but Ross and Becky are planning to make these meetups a regular thing, so I’m sure I’ll have plenty of other opportunities!

If you’d like more information about the event, get in touch with Ross or Becky and be sure to check out their fab blogs!

These guys are two of my absolute Twitter faves and 100% the kindest, most supportive people I’ve had the pleasure of coming across. I’m so proud to call them my friends. If you’re not following them already, you should be!