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  • R: It's OK. I'll just... It's a nice interlude. [Jessica laughs]

  • J: Gonna start this video by saying: I have a terrible cold

  • J: I might sniffle a bit.

  • But I've got tissues ready.

  • J: So we're good. R: I am not sick for now.

  • J: Well, you're sitting next to me for quite a while! So we'll see how you feel at the end of this, Rowan.

  • J: This is lovely Rowan. She has come to join me on the channel today.

  • J: Because it is...

  • R: Mental Health something Day!

  • J: I should have probably clued you into that.

  • J: No, it's actually World Mental Health Day.

  • R: For the whole world? J: Yeah!

  • R: In which case, good timing on your part. J: Thanks!

  • J: People often ask me why I don't have

  • things on my channel where I talk about mental health.

  • J: And that's partly because I don't feel it's my place to

  • because I don't have any mental health stuff.

  • J: Although, if you grow up or have any kind of chronic illness or disability,

  • I think there is always going to be some kind of trauma that is attached to that.

  • J: Even if it's not itself something, like a mental health condition,

  • that you get independently.

  • R: Mm.

  • J: It's just - you go through stuff! And you feel--

  • you have some kind of trauma at the end of it.

  • J: But Rowan talks very openly

  • J: about mental heath stuff. R: I do.

  • J: So I thought you were probably the best person to talk to.

  • J: You can kind of tell me a bit about why you think it's so important that we do talk about these things.

  • R: It's useful for people to be able to talk about their mental health conditions

  • and then also for people who don't know about it

  • to feel like they can ask questions and talk to their friends about it.

  • R: A lot of mental health issues can feel quite isolating, and so talking can often help.

  • R: And it's just empowering people to talk about

  • what they're going through in the right way, but also for their friends and family

  • to be able to feel empowered to talk to them and not think they're gonna make it worse by mentioning.

  • R: 'You look kind of depressed or you seem to be depressed.' J: It's OK. It's OK.

  • R: 'I can't say it because then I'll remind you that you're depressed

  • and then you'll feel more depressed and...'

  • R: Not quite how it works. J: Yeah.

  • J: I find talking about my disabilities on my channel

  • has made the relationships that I have in real life

  • - day-to-day life -

  • with people, even my family,

  • they now find it easier to talk to me about my disabilities.

  • R: Yeah. J: Because they know what it is now.

  • J: Do you find that you've had

  • people in real life who are like, 'Oh, I watched your video about that and now I actually get it'?

  • R: So I made a video about having OCD and I think that it's one of those things where

  • people who kind of had something similar to it

  • or who had experienced it before

  • felt a little bit more confident

  • talking to me about it because they knew that I'd got it.

  • R: I think that anxiety and depression, in particular, are ones that

  • although still stigmatized, have been talked about a little bit more

  • because I think that they're extensions of emotions that everyone has.

  • J: Yes. R: So depression is like, 'Oh, I've been sad before,'

  • R: so I know it's not quite the same, but I can kind of understand what depression might feel like.'

  • R: Or, 'I've been anxious or scared before; I kind of feel what anxiety might feel like.'

  • R: Although they're not totally the same,

  • it's definitely a good kind of starting comparison.

  • R: Whereas with things like OCD,

  • because they don't make any sense

  • and they're often not related to what anyone's gone through, and similarly

  • with personality disorders, or anything that involves psychosis or

  • not being able to tell what's real and what's not,

  • a lot of people have no basis for comparison.

  • R: They have no idea what that would feel like.

  • R: You feel crazy saying it. You feel like it's like, 'This is what crazy people say.'

  • J: But also the only things that we see about OCD

  • in the media are those kind of--the same representation of the person who has to like obsessively tidy

  • and wash their hands a lot; it's that kind of 'Monica' from 'Friends'

  • R: Yeah, exactly. J: -style.

  • J: Whereas OCD isn't just that, is it?

  • R: People do have OCD where they need to tidy and they need to clean obsessively,

  • but that's the only outward thing, so all that people see is, 'Oh, OCD is just you need to clean.'

  • R: What you don't see is the process that leads up to that point,

  • which is often obsessive thoughts.

  • R: So, the thoughts with someone who cleans a lot might be about contracting diseases,

  • as an example.

  • R: And so a way that these thoughts that keep going on and on in your head,

  • that you kind of know aren't real but they feel like they are,

  • and the only way that you can stop those

  • is just to sort of give in and be like, 'OK, I'm gonna--' (in that case) 'I'll wash my hands again.'

  • R: It starts with these intrusive thoughts,

  • which are these obsessions

  • - which is 'obsessive' - and then the compulsions are the things that you do to alleviate the thoughts.

  • J: Oh, OK.

  • R: And so you can have something called Pure O OCD,

  • which is only obsessions.

  • R: So, it's not physical things that you can do and compulsions that you act out,

  • but everything happens mentally.

  • R: So my OCD, I have a few different ones,

  • but the one that was most recent

  • and has been the most on-going is an obsessive thought that people can hear what I'm thinking.

  • R: It's weird, because I know logically they can't, that's nonsense.

  • I--no one can hear what I'm thinking.

  • R: But the anxiety that they can keeps going

  • so a lot of my compulsions are internal in my head, where I will have to

  • actively think back at them, back thoughts as if--so I'm kind of like thinking something;

  • they'll hear my thoughts, and so I'll have to just apologise to them.

  • J: Ooh! R: Be like, 'I'm really sorry that you just heard what I was thinking.'

  • R: And intrusive thoughts can be really awful. J: Yeah!

  • R: So, you know, often they're around what will make you feel most panicked.

  • So, parents will get intrusive thoughts of killing their children.

  • R: It's people with intrusive thoughts-- J: But it's not because you want to do it.

  • R: Not at all. J: It's just because you're so scared of that.

  • R: Exactly.

  • R: So it's often you'll get the thing that you definitely wouldn't do.

  • J: OK. R: Because that's the thing that will cause the most anxiety.

  • J: Yeah.

  • R: I'm like - from our point of view, there's a really interesting one, which is

  • homosexual OCD

  • where people who are brought up in environments where being gay is like the worst possible thing

  • will have intrusive thoughts that they're gay.

  • J: But they're not gay. R: They're not gay.

  • J: They've just got intrusive thoughts about being gay. R: They've just got intrusive thoughts about being gay.

  • J: Ooo.

  • J: You were saying how people can kind of understand depression

  • because we've all had a moment where we're quite sad,

  • and we can kind of think about that magnified,

  • but with intrusive thoughts,

  • don't we all sometimes get those kind of

  • J: sort of experience? R: Yeah, so imagine that,

  • R: but imagine the--you cannot get rid of that thought.

  • J: Sure. R: You just have to keep thinking it.

  • R: And also, the level of distress that it causes is much higher.

  • R: Here's a thing that you think sometimes, but actually, you think it all the time,

  • and it really stresses you out when you think it.

  • R: That's sort of, I suppose, the equivalent.

  • R: And then I also have Seasonal Affective Disorder,

  • which is "the winter blues."

  • R: I think it probably used to be known.

  • R: Which is really funny, because it makes me sound like a sort of fainting Victorian woman,

  • where it's like, 'She's got the winter blues - quickly, we must holiday in the Mediterranean!'

  • J: 'Oh, no! Oh, no! Send her away!' R: 'We must take her--send her for sun by the coast.'

  • R: It's one of those things I got diagnosed with and I was like, "Oh, I guess I have this."

  • J: Claudia has a quite mild SAD.

  • So I had to get her a sun light.

  • J: Was advised. R: Yep, yep.

  • R: I've got the lightbox.

  • J: She--she could not wake up before it.

  • J: Her one is an alarm clock, so it slowly gets brighter, R: Ooo. That's really cool.

  • J: so that wakes her up,

  • but then also, if it's just like 4PM and it's pitch black outside in the middle of winter,

  • then I can just put it in front of her on max for twenty minutes.

  • J: All year round now the sun light to wake up.

  • Otherwise, she doesn't properly wake up.

  • R: Yeah, so, sun boxes are really interesting; they're something like 60-90% effective. Like, most people.

  • So it's a really effective way of treating it.

  • R: I used to, when I was studying, have to just like have it next to me.

  • J: While you studied? R: While I studied.

  • R: I think it's interesting, because there must be such differences in mental health depending on

  • where you live.

  • J: Mmm. R: Because this wouldn't affect people to the same extent

  • R: in a country where it was hot for a lot longer or sunnier for longer and the days were longer.

  • R: Mental health is interesting because it's such a spectrum of something that you were born with,

  • chemical stuff, but also experiences you've had; trauma you've had,

  • and predispositions.

  • J: Like you can have something that runs in your family, R: Exactly.

  • J: but it needs to be turned on for it to actually

  • activate.

  • R: Talking about it can help in terms of treatment, so it's

  • you will still feel this way, but here's a way of alleviating those symptoms.

  • R: But then that's why, for other people, the sort of taking a drug--drug use is more useful,

  • because if it's very chemical, taking antidepressants

  • / anti-anxiety medication makes sense, because it's just fixing the chemical element