I put this photograph of myself on Instagram three weeks ago, after I had a panic attack in the gym but managed to stay to finish my workout. If you’ve followed my blog for a while, you may have seen posts I’ve written about my mental health before. I was going to film this as a video, but I don’t think I’m quite strong enough to talk about it on camera yet.
I’m intent on getting people to talk about mental health as there is still such a stigma surrounding the topic that simply shouldn’t be there in 2016. I think it’s awful how I still get people judging me or jumping to conclusions about things I do because they don’t understand that I have to do it to get through the day. Being told “just get over it” is the most infuriating thing when it’s not something I can just “get over”. Trust me.
You’ve probably realised my blogging and videos haven’t been very constant for the past half a year or so. Unless you are close family or friends, you are probably unaware that I started getting treatment for my Panic and Anxiety Disorder again recently. I was last seen by a mental health team in 2012 and was discharged just before my 18th birthday. I’ve gone over 3 years without psychiatric care and I’ve felt okay most of the time.
In October last year I was referred to Time to Talk by my doctor, as they were worried about my low mood and anxiety getting worse again. They wanted to get me help before I got to the same horrible point I was at when I was 15.
I’m writing about this again because I believe it is SO important to talk about mental health. When you’re depressed and anxious like I have been, you can be in a room full of people but still feel so lonely. You struggle getting out of bed because it doesn’t feel like anything is worth the effort. Every day you just can’t wait to go back to sleep because when you’re asleep you don’t have to feel anxious anymore, but you’re so anxious you can’t actually get to sleep until the early hours of the morning.
The only reason I’ve managed to get through it is I have an extremely supportive family, fiancé, and best friends. I always have someone to talk to and a shoulder to cry on. As I said, it is so important to talk about mental health. It makes you feel like you’re not so alone anymore.
Getting the conversation started can be hard. Although I’ve suffered from anxiety disorder for 6 years now, it was still hard to tell my family and Dean that I felt depressed and more anxious again. I was walking my goldie, Ollie, with my Mum when I suddenly burst in to tears along the beach and told her how low I was feeling. But it’s such a huge relief when you do talk about it, especially when it’s a regular conversation in your household like it is in mine. Even just a cuppa and a chat or a text to see how you are, it all lets you know you are loved, supported, and looked after. It makes you feel safe.
So if you know someone who may have mental health problems, don’t just leave them to it. If they don’t seem like they feel like talking the chances are they probably don’t want to make the first move, as having a mental health problem can be so embarrassing and make you feel so ashamed. This is why we need to talk about it more; it’ll lift the stigma and embarrassment of sufferers. It’ll make it normality.
I decided to write this blog today as I had a session of CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) this afternoon, and for the first time in over half a year I can see a light at the end of the tunnel. I’m finally starting to see progress. I now keep thinking “I won’t feel like this forever” rather than “this is how I’ll feel for the rest of my life”. It’ll never totally go away and I’ll always need to look after my mental health, but for the first time since I was 15 I can see my future without my anxiety disorder. I couldn’t do it without having people to talk about it with, so make sure you get talking.