I had resolved that I wasn’t going to blog tonight, but after taking part in the #timetotalkchat on Twitter, I decided I wanted to have my little say in regards to mental health. Today is Time to Talk day, a day to encourage people to beat the stigma that goes along with mental health. I have read many brave posts and tweets from my fellow bloggers who have felt ashamed, scared, worried and embarrassed by their problems and for me, someone who is currently suffering with mental health problems, I’ve never felt less alone in my struggle.
I’ve never understood the reason why there is such a stigma with MH, it’s an illness just like any other, you experience pain, it effects your life and it can even result in death, yet so many people are reluctant to talk about “how they’re feeling” for fear that they will be discriminated against. And this is wrong. Nowadays one in four adults will struggle with mental health problems and one in ten under the age of eighteen. That is a lot of people yet it’s still very much kept behind close doors.
If you have been reading my blog for a while you’ll have caught my posts about my constant battle with anxiety and insomnia that were a direct result of the abusive relationship I was in with my daughter’s father. It took me a good year to finally get up the nerve to share my experiences, and in each post I started to feel much braver in what I would write. Over the summer I battled crippling anxiety but with the help of a life coach I seemed to pull through. Then in the run up to Christmas and New Year my mental health was in the worst state it’s ever been in. When I was left alone with my thoughts I would have constant panic attacks and I went days on a couple of hours sleep. When I did sleep, I had nightmares. I was shaking, crying all the time and constantly terrified I was going to die. I felt so ashamed to tell anyone in my family or my friends. When I finally blogged about my struggle and received amazing feedback, I headed back to the doctors who gave me some anti depressants (shock, horror!) and finally referred me for CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy).
I could go into so much more, into the depression I sank into while with my ex, into the fact I tried to take my own life but I have already covered it in previous posts. I’m so thankful that when I did finally open up to my sister and my mother they were so supportive and understanding. I still fear being judged by other people since I’m a single mother. But even thought i’m not certain about anything else in my life, I know that I am a good mother and I always do what’s best for my daughter. She is my lifeline. She is why I’m still here today.
But it isn’t just my own mental health that I have struggled with. My younger sister was diagnosed with depression at 17. Still classed as a child my mother couldn’t get any help for her for a long time. She took her to A&E and begged someone to help her after my sister tried to take her own life. It was an up hill battle and I even had to take some time out of university to come home and help look after her. My sister didn’t leave the house for weeks, she stayed in our room with the curtains drawn. It was a dark time and my mum had to fight to finally get her to speak to someone. It was disgusting the lack of help available to my sister because she was under age. The doctors classed her as “dramatic” and she wasn’t given any form of medication until she was twenty. She lost many friends, had to drop out of college and no one was willing to help her. If anything, that is what terrified me the most when my mental health deteriorated. The fear that I would end up alone like my sister. I’m glad to say there is definitely more help on offer six years on. Or maybe it’s simply because I’m an adult and I do have a reason, my sister didn’t. She couldn’t help the way she felt and sometimes that is the case.
There needs to be more awareness about all aspects of mental health and the way it can manifest, children should be educated on it. My sister and I are two completely different stories. But neither of us wanted sympathy. We didn’t want to tell you incase you thought it was simply a sob story, what we want is help and acceptance. I’m still me, struggling with my mental health doesn’t make me a different person. I still like the same things, I still do the same stuff (or at least, I try to). But it’s important to remember, every case of a mental health struggle is completely different.
I’m recovering now. But I know since this happened, I’ll never be the same and there is always a chance I’ll have times in my life where I once again will struggle to cope. I understand this, but I won’t let it continue to rule my life. I won’t be ashamed of what I’ve been through, for my daughter’s sake, I have to be strong. I can’t let it take a hold of me. And I know that there is someone always there for me to talk to. I have my blog to thank for that.
I’m so thankful to everyone who showed support today for #timetotalk on twitter and their blogs, I’ve read some truly inspiring stories that on my troublesome days and I do still have them, they’ll keep me going. We have to all try to remember, we’re not alone.