Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Mental Health

Mental health is a funny thing. Well. It's anything but funny actually. And the death of a beloved actor who made so many laugh yet was tormented with demons bring it to light.

So many I 'know' on twitter struggle with depression. Some tell me about it in private. The highs and the lows. The way the meds make them feel. How they attempt to get on with daily life. And how hard it is. Enveloped in blackness. Like wading through treacle. Some strive to make others smile and laugh and others withdraw and go silent.

My last year at Uni was a struggle. Burnt out. Exhausted. Low. Depressed. The combination of extreme stress through workload and the side effect of chronic fatigue due to the drugs I was on.

It was heavy. I was heavy. All I could think about was how exhausted I was. And cry.

Luckily a new consultant listened to me. And I was. At last. Taken off the drugs rather than prescribed lorazepam.

I escaped depression as a large part of it was due to drugs I was on. So many cannot.

I didn't really talk to anyone about how I felt. I wrote and tweeted. I didn't really see anyone. I couldn't face it. All I could do was go to Uni and be at home. Cancelling on friends became the norm. But messages and emails kept me going. And twitter kept me going.

I am now through it and have been for a few months. I cannot imagine never escaping and the only way to be free is to die. I do not judge or think why did they do that. How awful of them to leave behind xyz. They did not do it to be selfish. They did it because it was the only way they could see their way out.

I understand this a little. An uncle committed suicide when I was little. He thought he was doing what was best for everyone else. It was not an act of selfishness.

'We' the general public do not understand mental health. There is a growing awareness which tragically high profile deaths, like the one today of Robin Williams, will help raise it further.

Be kind to others, no one knows what is going on behind a smile. Do not ridicule or blame or wish they would 'snap out of it'. Accept and support. Remember. A message saying 'thinking of you' can mean the world to someone. If someone falls off the radar do not be angry and assume they are being shit. Maybe they just can't talk about what is happening.

I have stood and teetered on the edge of the deep gulf of darkness and depression. I was able to pull back. Remember those who are desperately trying to claw their way up that massive rock wall face.

And if I hear anyone be dismissive of mental health, I promise you this, I will go fucking mental at them.

If you need help and feel that you can't talk to a friend or family member, there are loads of numbers and organisations who are there for you:

http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/Pages/mental-health-helplines.aspx

With love and a candle flame of hope,
XxX

8 comments:

  1. I think if you've not been through it then it's a very hard thing to try understand. It's far easier for society to deal with things if you've got a limb missing or have a clear disability because they can see and 'understand' the issue - in fact, not only is it easier for society to deal with, it may make it 'easier' for the sufferer because it's something tangible and explainable. Depression isn't like that and it is different for everyone who goes through it. If you can't 'see' what's wrong then sometimes it's just as hard for the sufferer to understand as it is for a loved one or friend.

    Suicide takes enormous courage, I'd always been far too much of a coward for it! I find it sad and maddening that people say those who take their own lives have taken the easy way out. Far from it. Again, it shows a complete lack of understanding from society - it's not necessarily their fault though - it's just that they can't comprehend what people are going through cause they're lucky enough to have never been in that position. Experience brings understanding and empathy.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I completely agree that depression is different for everyone. A while back as part of the coverage of an inquest a suicide note was published (maybe not in full but quite a lot of it.) F*** me did it strike a chord. I could have written that. I never thought I had depression, but surely I must have? I had been unhappy for decades and matters were coming to a head. Struggling to concentrate, work became part of the problem instead of a coping mechanism. I was lucky enough to be able to take some time out and despite appearances (it's nearly 4pm and I'm still in my pyjamas) I'm coming out of the other end.

    ReplyDelete
  3. I'm really struggling. Please help me!!

    ReplyDelete
  4. "I used to think the worst thing in life is to end up all alone. It's not. The worst thing in life is to end up with people who make you feel all alone." -- Robin Williams.

    Once I suffered a major clinical depression, and everyone left me. No one bothered to help me. I almost ended it, until I realized that I was sick. Some voice inside of me, told me I need to get help, which I did. Due to my own strength I was able to pull through. People just don't understand how difficult it is to pull through. It is the toughest thing one can do. Look at Robin's eyes, you can see that he felt very alone, let down. I think that he had no one to talk to as well. He was left alone, everyone thought he was happy, while he was suffering a metal illness that is as real as cancer, and kills just as much.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I've had my moments in the past. For weeks, months, years even I'd booked myself down as a moody and miserable bastard. I could be quick to lurch from helpless laughter to explosive anger. There were times when I truly hated myself and all of my inadequacies. Never truly happy and felt I spent my life trying to wear a mask and a cloak so that the real me would never seen. The real me who was ugly, unpleasant and perhaps more to the point deeply, deeply unhappy. What compounded all of those feelings was guilt. I had nothing to be unhappy about - nothing.
    I kept myself going with manic plans and proclamations. “I’m going to write a book” or “I’m going to write a play” and so on and so on. I wrote manically on my own blog to the point of virtual hypergraphia consistently writing 3000 or 4000 words daily. Perhaps it was my anti convulsive medication, but perhaps that was a lame excuse.
    Then one day, it was as if a light came on in my head. I discussed 1 to1 how I felt. I was open frank and brutally honest. I told him what I kept thinking about and how it bought me to the depths of despair. He asked whether I could change it and of course there wasn’t, there isn’t. We agreed that this event in my life was the trigger to my bouts of deep despair and that I had to learn to think of it differently.
    In order to be able to do this I felt I had to see though to the end one of my plans, schemes made when I was in one of my manic moods. I never see the plans through, ever. This time I did. All on my own. No one else. Just me.
    The feeling I got was almost like a religious enlightenment. For the first time in my life, or at least for a long long time, I felt truly at peace with myself and totally relaxed. I now see myself and others somewhat differently and can look forward to my future with hope rather than fear.

    ReplyDelete
  6. I get so angry when people call suicide "selfish." The person is SICK with depression, just the way someone is sick with cancer. The person is not thinking clearly and not able to understand that he is in fact loved and valued by others. It's just so tragic.

    ReplyDelete
  7. He hurts me and I want to end it

    ReplyDelete
  8. "I didn't really talk to anyone about how I felt. I wrote and tweeted. I didn't really see anyone. I couldn't face it. All I could do was go to Uni and be at home. Cancelling on friends became the norm. But messages and emails kept me going. And twitter kept me going."

    Katie, this sums me up perfectly.
    I work, I cycle a bit, but most of all I potter at home or lay on my bed.
    If I am forced to go out then I get a stress reaction, of pins & needles or palpatations.
    I don't get invited out coz according to my wife I am an arse so luckily I don't have to cancel, however I am happy for her to go out as its easier without me.
    This is a beautifully written blog, as it really does show the insight that only someone who has been through can give x

    ReplyDelete