Alex: Hello, it’s Alex from Pushing Back the Shadows here. I’m sat with Cheryl, our editor, and Luce who is going to do an interview for us about her struggles with mental health. Hello.
Do tell us a little bit about yourself please.
I don’t really know where to begin. I’ll just go by my Twitter bio: professional short person, introverted extrovert, bit of a joker. i suppose.
Proffesional short person? I was warned not to do any short jokes.
Yeah, no short jokes.
No, I’ll save them for Cheryl
Cheryl : Thank you.
I think you two are around the same height!
So which mental health conditions do you live with?
And how long have you been struggling with that?
On and off about a decade.
Ok, Quite a while then?
And on general, what does a good day look like for you?
A good day mainly consists of, I’m 100% with it. I’ve got my music on, that always depends on what kind of a mood i’m in. I’m focused. I can get things done. And nothing really affects me. I’m normally happy and alright.
So kind of similar to everybody else then? So the same level of productivity and engagement that sort of thing, yeah?
And then when it goes kind of go more towards a bad day, what does that tend to look like?
Normally I like to just shut myself off from the world and there’s really no motivation at all. I don’t want to be disturbed or I get easily irritated and just lash out at people. But I don’t mean to. It’s just how i am.
So quite isolating? We know that quite well don’t we?
Yeah. It seems to be quite a common feature. Becuase it’s something I do. It’s something you do. But thats something I’m quite aware I do. I go and hide. Or just shut, literally lock people out which is not always fun.
I don’t quite hide, do I? I just refuse to go out.
Yeah, I get like that. Sometimes I go out just for the sake of going out. Work? I haven’t got a choice. I’ve got to go out. But other than that, I’d prefer to just shut myself away and just be on my own.
So in a general kind of day to day sort of, looking at that side of things. How do you find it affects people around you, whether thats friends, colleagues family, that sort of thing? Are there any particular aspects you struggle with? Or particular aspecsts you find easier?
Colleagues don’t really seem to notice. they’re just like ” Are you ok?” and it’s just the same old excuse ” yeah, I’m just tired” but I’m not tired. I just don’t want to explain what’s going on. Friends wise. I suppose really, I’ve got one friend who genuinely takes the time out to talk to me. Ask me how I am. And I am actually comfortable enough to tell her whats going on in my head. Other than that. i just genuinely feel like I’m a bit of a burden on to people. and its not fair with everything going on with them, for me to off load my problems and what’s going on with me, to them.
And that’s quite hard when you feel like that as it’s quite isolating. That sucks.
It’s something we’re familar with isn’t it? because we do that too.
A lot of people have said they’d rather just leave me to it than talk to me becuase it just bores them or…yeah
It’s not easy dealing with things like that.
So, as youv’e said it’s quite, you can’t always talk to people about it and it can be quite isolating…What sort of coping mechanisms do you use?
I tend to write down a lot of what’s going on in my head on paper. Just to sort of get it out of my system in a way that it’s not constantly there. It’s written down. I can look back on it and think ” Yeah, ok I wasn’t in a good place then, but I’m ok now.” Or i listen to music a lot.
Yeah music is quite a big thing. we seem to find that a lot. Don’t we?
It’s quite interesting what you say about the writing becuase thats something |’ve done for a long time.
I only started doing that about two years ago. I just thought if i can pen it all down, it’s there, it’s away. and I’ve still got it to look back on it, reflect on it as time goes by.
It’s quite interesting, when you go back and look at things and think ” was i really in that place at that moment?” Its quite strange sometimes isn’t it?
Really strange. I’ve read some of the things I’ve wrote it’s like, ” Did I really write that? that’s a bit deep! Oh no, next page. Oh, I’m not that bad now.”
We’ve talked about that. I think I did send you something of mine to you once, becuase I do like stream of consciousness writing, and it was ” Woah” that’s all I got from you, was “woah”. But, it’s…If you can get it out of your system that way rather than more destructive ways then that’s probably a good thing
Everyone has their different ways of releasing how they’re feeling.
They do. What do you find works best for you?
I would say, writing really. But it’s getting the words out that you want to write. and sometimes it’s have I worded it right? or I’ll just jot anything down really. Even if it’s just a page or five pages.
Is there anything that’s kind of least effective? some of the ones you’ve tried that don’t necessarily work so well?
In terms of medication, That didn’t really work well for me. It did make me feel a lot worse after several weeks of trying it out. It helped me sleep , but other than that it really didn’t have an impact on my mental health.
It’s an interesting one. because we don’t have medication come up too often, do we? People don’t seem to talk about that one.
So you say that it didn’t work for you? was it just made no difference?
It made no difference. If anything it just made me feel worse. and then you’d explain to people, like my mum “oh I’m on medication” ” You shouldn’t be taking that!” “Why shouldn’t I be taking it? It’s supposed to make me feel better. you can’t expect me to recover from something, if you won’t let me get the help I need.”
It is difficult.This is something we’ve touched on a little bit, because I’ve been going through this since I was about fifteen. We Won’t say how many years that is! For a long time I was very “I’m not doing medication” because I was given it when I was fifteen and i didn’t like how it made me feel. Now, I’m kind of going… I’ve now started taking some medication, just because everything I’ve learnt wasn’t working any more. So I need to start doing something different. So it’s quite interesting to hear somebody else actually say that “medication didn’t work for me” It’s nice to hear that somebody copes with it without medication too! It’s not just me being crazy.
It really did help me sleep. but when you have to get up at 6 o clock in the morning for work and it can knock you out for 14 hours..It’s just not worth the risk. I like my sleep, but not that much!
A little bit more on the odd occasion would be nice, wouldn’t it?
Yeah, 2 hours I managed the other night wasn’t it?
Yeah, and about 4 for me.
We’re just bonkers. Plus I’ve got a toddler that wakes me up at 5 o’ clock in the morning. with ” Mummy, hello!”
My neighbours have little kids so I hear all that. I don’t mind it. It can get a bit tedious. But that’s little kids for you. They can’t help it.
No, they can’t.
It’s favouritism though. She doesn’t wake me up ! She knows better.
So you say you’ve struggled with it for about ten years or so? If there’s a piece of advice or something you could say to someone going through similar struggles, what would that be?
It would probably be, I waited until I was about 20 to do something about it. From the ages of 16-19, I thought I was just a moody teenager, as you do. But then something just wasn’t right and it wasn’t shifting. So I went to the doctors to get it sorted and it’s the best thing you can do. You can let something fester to a point where it gets too much for you to handle and then it’s completely out of your control. But if you talk to a professional about it, and see if they can advise you as best they can. Then you’re on the road to recovery.
It sounds like you’ve had a positive experience from the doctors then?
Oh no. I said I think I might have depression. He gave me a piece of paper and said circle these. I gave it him, he had a ten second look at it. “Oh yeah, you’re depressed have these tablets.” That was it. But then there’s so much to do with mental health, and there just not enough done about it. And it’s only if a celebrity dies or say they’ve had mental health issues that everyone decides to pipe up on social media saying you should talk to someone. and it shouldn’t be like that. It should be a constant thing.
It should. And I think I’ve written a few posts in that vein, haven’t I?
And you said that when you mentioned medication to your mum that she was saying that you shouldn’t take it. Because friends and family can vary, they can either be really good or not so good, what would you say to people trying to support those who have depression?
I would say that maybe actions speak louder than words. You can tell someone ” If you need me, call me. Or text me if you want to talk.” But at times that’s just not enough. You have to go and make the effort and try and see someone if you know they’re in a bad place with their mental health or anything. You can’t just stand back from the sidelines. You’ve got to be a part of it.
It’s interesting though because that’s something I’ve said quite a bit isn’t it?
Yeah, well the amount of times we’ve come across there are people who say “I’m here if you need me.” and they never message or never get in touch and then it’s your fault when you sort of lash out a little bit about that.
Yeah, it’s like you have my number…
Sometimes it’s so difficult to pick up the phone in the first place. and it’s like well actually if you’d have rung me first this might not have happened.
It’s not even , because people say they don’t know what to say, they don’t know what to say but it’s not even about saying the right thing is it ?Sometimes it’s just a “Hi, I’m thinking of you.” or..
Or just being there is enough. If you know you’ve got somebody you can turn to, that you’re comfortable enough with. Sometimes that’s just enough.
Yeah it makes a big difference. The thing is it can just be something really silly. Something small that can make that difference to that person getting through the day. That’s what I think some people do forget. It’s not necessarily even a message. It can be just a quick phone call to say hi or leave a voice mail, or in your case turn up with a McDonald’s but we won’t go into that one.
Well, I couldn’t help that.
It’s never about making a big gesture. I think its more a fact about making your presence known to somebody that’s dealing with a mental health problem or condition so they know they can rely on you.
Putting the onus on the people supporting rather than the person who is struggling. It’s an important part. Did you have any final thoughts? Anything you wanted to say or share?
I think I’ve waffled on enough really. All morning I’ve been like should I say this or should say this. Or should I say this? No I’ll go off on a tangent. But no, I think I’ve done ok.
I think you’ve done brilliantly.
Tangents are good. You’ve seen my blog posts…Yeah well thank you very much!