With it being World Mental Health Day, I thought I’d share a little post.
I came out of my last job, back in December for mental health reasons. I wrote about it, I don’t need to bore you all again, but it was tough. The ten months that followed weren’t any easier.
On paper, I am so blessed. I’m healthy (dead pancreas aside), I got engaged in February, I get married next October, I’ve got 3 animals that I absolutely adore, we moved from a little flat I hated into a house with a garden, and my family are all very loving and supportive.
But it wasn’t enough. I wasn’t myself. On the surface I probably looked fine, but inside I was falling apart. I hated life. On more than one occasion, I honestly decided everyone would be better off without me, and nearly acted on those feelings. How Keith put up with me this year is beyond me. I had the worst mood swings, I lashed out, I was constantly crying for no reason. I lost count of the amount of days I could barely get out of bed. If I showered or brushed my hair, that was a bonus.
I’ve been on a waiting list for counselling since October 2016. I chased it up in June and was told I was still about a year away from being seen. I was that low at that point, I didn’t know if I planned on being around in a year. I was offered group counselling, to try and at least help the anxiety. Ironically, I explained that my anxiety would be way too high to do something like that, talking with a room full of strangers. I was told if it was noted that I’d refused, I’d be pushed back on the list, so I reluctantly accepted.
I didn’t expect to be lucky enough to land a job in the time leading up to the first session. I rang and explained I wouldn’t be able to make it, my reasons why, and was there alternative sessions I could attend etc? I was told I’d be sent a letter confirming.
2 weeks later, I’ve had a letter, DISCHARGING me from the mental health service. I’ve tried ringing and pleading my case, only to be told I’ll go to the back of the waiting list now.
I’m very lucky in that this new job has given me a focus and a sense of purpose, for the first time in a long time. I’m not cured, and I could wake up tomorrow and feel awful again, because that’s the way of depression. But how is it in 2017 and with more people than ever being diagnosed with depression, there is still such a massive shortage of help available? This past year we’ve lost some big celebrities to depression, and yet some people still think it comes down to materialistic things.
If you’ve never suffered depression, I’m well aware that you will never fully understand it. You see throwaway comments all the time, “why not just do this” “why don’t you try this” etc. There was times where I was telling myself that. People don’t necessarily understand that it’s an actual medical condition, an imbalance in the brain that you can’t physically see. You don’t have to be able to understand something, to be able to help. Everyone deals with depression differently. Little gestures can make the world of difference to people. Ask how people are. Ask about their day. Just talk, be there. Some days, I wanted Keith to leave me well alone. Other days, he sat next to me, in silence, just holding my hand. And it helped.
Don’t assume someone is attention seeking for being brave enough to speak out, always listen to what they have to say. Unfortunately, as with all things, there will be people who greatly exaggerate. People who have one bad day, or one bad thing happen and they decide it’s depression. There’s a huge difference between feeling down or sad, and suffering depression.
It really doesn’t take much to be nice, as cliche as it sounds. You never know the difference you could have on someone’s day, the impact that smiling at someone could have.