So, I originally planned this post to be out yesterday, however it has taken a lot longer than planned to organise and write. Writing about my mental health always requires more time than I plan for.
Thursday 1st February 2018 marked Time to Talk day. Although, a day really isn’t enough. It should be time to talk everyday. The following post is probably going to be my most personal and most difficult to write but it’s an important one.
I’m not ashamed to say I have a mental illness. Why should I be ashamed for something which isn’t my fault? My depression and anxiety is a solid part of my life, even if it has changed the way I do and view things, it’s something I’ve, mostly, grown to embrace. By now, I know what to expect.
Depression is a horrible, isolating illness that not only effects mental well being but also the physical side. Mental health disorders can make you feel lonely, even when you’re in a crowded room. You put weight on, you lack energy, you feel useless. I’d love to be able to say I have never had any bad experiences or faced the stigma but then I would be lying.
I’ve been told that I am many things over the years of battling with my mental health. I am lazy, I am boring and I am nothing.
Depression leaves me feeling drained, so much so that staying in bed seems like a much better option than pretending to be awake and alert. When I’m having one of my low moods, I completely lose motivation. Doing the normal, little things feels like the biggest challenge in history. Washing dishes, tidying up, making the bed, even getting dressed; all simple tasks, but when my brain goes into overdrive, climbing Everest honestly feels like it would be easier. It’s hardly surprising then when being social and going out is one of the very last things on my mind. Sometimes, being alone is better than feeling like a spare part. I’ve lost so much thanks to my mental health. Confidence, motivation, hobbies, even friends. However, and it’s taken me a while, I know I’m actually better off.
It’s weird but I wouldn’t be the person I am today if it weren’t for my depression and anxiety. My network of friends has never been stronger, while considerably smaller, definitely a lot more understanding. It’s true what they say, surround yourself with people that make you happy to be happy. I’ve tried a lot of different ways to control my depression; self harm (got the scars to prove it), tablets, counselling and CBT and honestly none worked as well as what I’m doing right now. Writing, talking about it. Obviously everyone has their own ways of coping with mental health but with my experience I am a firm believer that ‘doing’ helps. Doing nothing isn’t an option anymore. Telling someone close, and visiting the GP to explain, how I feel or maybe jotting it down in a diary, or writing a blog post all help.
The Time to Talk day aims to get more and more people talking about their wellbeing. Time To Change, Mind and various other important mental health charities aim to beat the stigma and can offer fantastic advice to those that need it.
I know that I’ll never be ‘cured’ of my depression, but I am able to live with it. One day it will be completely normal to talk about mental health anywhere. It is part of who I am. One thing that I do know is that I most certainly am not lazy, I am not boring and I AM something!