The StandUp Club #1 – Mental Health
StandUp club is a group, where students meet weekly and, under the supervision of specific teachers, discuss relevant social issues that students want to discuss. Standup is a place for students to share how they feel, to educate and to be educated. For anybody interested in joining, we meet every Wednesday at first break in the drama cabin.
In this week’s StandUp Club meeting, the topic we discussed was ‘Mental Health’. As this is an incredibly broad topic, this week’s speaker, Year 10’s Celeste took the floor and gave a very informative talk about mental illnesses, with a specify focus on eating disorders and bipolar disorders.
A quick warning – If you are sensitive to topics such as these, it may be best you click off this article. This was written purely to inform, though if this it may potentially ‘trigger’ or set off anything inside you, you are under no obligation to read the rest of this.
Often depression and anxiety are the most commonly discussed mental illnesses. These are evidently very prevalent and relevant, since they are two of the most common mental illnesses. However, we wish to bring light to conditions less understood or talked about, and break some of the stereotypes and generalised statments that come with them.
Eating disorders are a lot more complicated than just ‘not eating’. There are three main types of eating disorders: anorexia nervosa, bulimia nervosa and binge eating disorder. Anorexia involves depriving yourself of food, whereas bulimia tends to involve eating in excess and then dealing with guilt through either fasting, over-exercising or purging. Binge eating is often defined by purely eating excessively, usually as a coping mechanism, and due to a lack of purging, bulimics tend to become overweight, and guilt about their bingeing causes them to eat more until they are stuck in a loop.
Studies show 1 in every 100 females have anorexia, and even more are bulimic. Eating disorders are generally linked to abusive or toxic relationships, low self esteem, perfectionism and criticism, and often come from a place of the victim needing to gain some control in their lives. Common symptoms include low body image, unusual eating habits (eating too much one day but nothing the next), insomnia, dental problems (cavities or erosion of tooth enamel), obsessive interest in body weight an slow hair and nail quality.
Teens are often in denial that anything is wrong and can become very sensitive to any criticism. Treatments often involve taking medication such as antidepressants, as well as cognitive behavioural therapy.
Irregular sudden shifts in ‘mood, energy, activity levels, and the ability to carry out day-to-day tasks’ are what define this mental illness. Anybody can develop bipolar, but it is often inherited genetically, and in most common in older teens and young adults. There are four main types of this mental disorder:
-Bipolar 1 Disorder : This disorder involves extended periods of manic and depressive episode; at some stages, the individual may experience both states simultaneously.
-Bipolar 2 Disorder : This disorder is characterised by cyclic depressive and hypomanic (mild to moderate mania) episodes, which are similar to manic episodes but slightly less severe.
-Cyclothymic Disorder – Cyclothymic Disorder is defined by cycles of hypomanic and depressive symptoms that often last longer than 2 years
-Unspecified bipolar disorder – This form of bipolar disorder is for people who’s symptoms can’t be defined by any other category
|Manic episodes||Depressive Episodes|
|-High energy and activity levels||-Extreme sadness and hopelessness|
|-Sleeplessness||-Getting too little sleep|
|-Easily angered or annoyed||-Feelings of guilt and worthlessness|
|-Risk-taking activities e.g. excessive purchases||-Undereating or overeating|
|-Having trouble staying focused||-Decrease in physical activity|
|-Suicidal thoughts or tendencies (often in children)|
Often, people with bipolar disorder are misdiagnosed due to bipolar’s symptoms overlapping with that of other mental illnesses: for example, some woman with autism tend to be misdiagnosed with bipolar disorder. These similar mental illnesses include schizophrenia, ADHD, anxiety or psychotic episodes – symptoms of psychosis include hallucinations or delusions tat often match that person’s extreme mood.
People with bipolar disorder often turn to substance abuse to help cope, and are likely to struggle in relationships and perform poorly in school or work. These people around the person suffering from bipolar may not even be aware the person has bipolar disorder, as some symptoms are internalised and others are often brushed aside.
Many thanks to Celeste for doing such extensive research. All the information for this summary of Wednesday’s StandUp talk was gathered from Celeste’s original notes, which can be found at the bottom of this article.
-Information gathered by Celeste (sources listed in notes below), poster made by Joshua, article assembled by Rachel
The original notes can be found here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1MCHjHjimldZKer8M9JgLG45ELvl3MGdXe2M_xJsEx-Y/edit?usp=sharing