11 October 2017

A DAY LATE...



{Scroll to the bottom of this post for useful contact points for mental health issues}

Yesterday was World Mental Health Day. I always like to write a few words about mental health (as you probably know by now!) and so I figured I would jump on my blog and have my five pence worth!

I am free-styling this post as I haven't pre-prepared anything which, in my experience, is the way I usually end up writing about mental health issues. It works best this way as I am 'in the moment' and  the thoughts and words that flow are usually the right ones for the time, if that makes any sense? As it happens, as I type this post, I am having quite the anxious day. Yay! I started feeling like this yesterday and it has reached somewhat of a peak right now. Why? Well, laughably it is because I am about to go out the door to a hospital appointment. It isn't the appointment itself but the journey to it, mostly the walk into the hospital from the car park actually, that is my biggest cause for concern. Who will be laughing at me when I walk into the wrong door or take the wrong turn, who will notice how anxious and flustered I feel inside and how will I cope when I start to feel overwhelmed by it all? The actual reason I am going to the hospital doesn't concern me at all; they can do whatever and I really don't have a worry or thought about it. When it comes to actual medical procedures I am a 'think about it when I need to' kind of girl but when it comes to walking into a new environment, where other human beings will be it really does scare the sh*t out of me! How stupid is that? Bloody illogical crappy brain!

Anyway, that to one side, things have been a little up and down the last couple of weeks. Heaven knows why, sometimes it is just the way it is and there are no obvious reasons for it. I am learning to accept it and try my best to do what I need to do to help myself. That said though, I also push myself on a daily basis! The gym acts as a haven for my mental health; I can go in feeling awful and leave feeling so much better. I still have days where my anxiety means that just being in the gym environment I can reach a kind of sensory overload and people probably think I am a super anti-social deer in headlights. Recently though, I have started chatting more to people in there and making the effort to take my headphones out (which is a tough one because I feel somewhat protected by them) but it is nice to know that there will be some friendly faces about when I go in. That sort of thing helps me so much.

I am still taking my medication too and, despite my occasional thoughts of coming off it, I do appreciate the fact that it is certainly doing its job at keeping everything 'level'. It is one of those situations where you can easily be fooled into the place of thinking 'I don't need this anymore, I am better' but as soon as you stop and a few weeks go by it can be pretty scary. My advice to anyone taking medication is to never ever take yourself off it cold turkey. I speak from several experiences here! Don't do it. Wait and go to the doctors for heavens sake. Do it the right way and it will be worth it.

Generally speaking, I think we are seeing more people start to open up about their personal experiences of mental health issues and I salute anyone who feels like they can share their story as it is really, really difficult to do so, but so helpful to so many people. For me, reading or listening to someone else talk about their experiences helps me feel less like a total moron. It is also so bloody important for people to realise that not all mental health is obvious. The cliche description of people rocking back and forth in a corner or randomly shouting out loud in the street to the friend in their head may be a reality for some poor people, but many people you pass each day are struggling silently, fighting a battle in their heads which they may never express on the outside.

Every single person living has a story, every single person has known some kind of pain: heartbreak, loss, emptiness, loneliness (etc) and when we hear of someone who is heart broken, we tend to rally round, say positive, helpful things, be kind human beings. Why is this not always the case with depression or social anxiety (or any of the many other diagnosed mental health issues).

What I am trying to say here is, before you make snap judgement on someone who passes you in the supermarket, looking a bit shifty (it could be me!), think about the fact that they just might be on the verge of a panic attack or they might be super self conscious and being in the supermarket is the hardest thing in the world for them at that moment. Maybe they have been building up to getting out the house for days and have finally found the courage to do it.

Let's think a little more about each other, smile at each other a little more (a lot more would be better) and not judge as fast or at all if possible. Let's all remember that we have all been through something that has hurt us mentally and, whether we have ended up poorly as a result of it or not, every persons reason for feeling low or anxious is within context to their own lives and existence. What may seem easy for one person may be what terrifies the next to their very core but that doesn't make them any less of a human being. Keep talking about mental health and smash the sh*t out of the stigma.

Useful contact points for those suffering with mental health issues:
The Samaritans From the UK you can call this number at any time of day for help 116 123
Mind have a very useful 'I need urgent help' yellow button on the top of their website
The NHS number '111' is useful if you need advice
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