Words Hurt

Sticks and Stones

I remember as a child so often being told the old adage ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me’. It’s something that’s trotted out so often to victims of bullying when they’re young. The idea that name calling isn’t somehow as damaging as physical violence gets ingrained from the playground upwards, and realistically it’s an attitude that needs to change. Whether you think it’s trivial or not; words hurt.

So many of the people I encounter on Twitter with mental health issues, either have been bullied, or worse are being bullied due to their condition. And this isn’t just children, and it’s not just in schools. It’s adults, in the workplace, on-line and in their own homes. People who are already vulnerable are being scarred even further by psychological damage inflicted by others. I should know. I’m one of them.

We Need To See That Words Hurt

I know as part of my own journey that I need to learn how to forgive those who hurt me, to move on and grow from it. I’m not talking about those people who inadvertently make a mistake and hurt my feelings. If Alex is snappish because of his mental health, I know that it is not meant. He’s not deliberately tried to hurt me or upset me. Usually by talking things through we can work things out again. We look at what happened and see what we can do about it for the future.

No, I’m talking about the times when someone uses names or insults to deliberately hurt you. To undermine you. Especially when they do this to make themselves feel better or more in control. These people are toxic. I have experience of people like this. I am the product of years of certain individuals who thought it was okay to abuse others like that. It eroded me, it broke me. Yet it was invisible to everyone around me.

The scars I’ve inflicted upon myself have been driven by my own self-loathing.  It’s a strong self-hatred that has been reinforced by these individuals confirming that everything bad about myself that my dark passenger whispers to me is true.  It’s a hard habit to break. But I’m trying.

Your Words Can End A Life

I’m serious. They really can. How many young lives have ended in suicide because of bullying? Far too many. It’s a tragedy we see over and over again. And it needs to stop. Zero tolerance of bullying in schools, the workplace, or online should mean exactly that. Zero tolerance. We need to be educating even earlier about the power of words, building it into our daily lives. Just being more mindful and if we see bullying going on, take a stand against it.  Not just sit by and let it happen. Bullying crosses so easily into abuse and it’s effects are devastating.  We have to scrap the old ‘sticks and stones’ and move forwards by recognising that words hurt. The wrong ones can kill.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

The Light of Hope

‘Tis The Season

So it’s official. We’re in December and the countdown to Christmas has begun. It’s okay to start playing Christmas music and put up your tree (even if I still think it’s too early!). The chaos of shopping is well underway. It should be all jolly and bright, right? Unfortunately, no. For some it’s not. This time of year can be hard, the dark mornings and early evenings can exacerbate S.A.D, the almost enforced jolliness and pressure can make anxiety and depression worse. If you suffer with mental health issues it can be incredibly lonely and isolating at this time of year. So I wanted to give you a little gift if you are a sufferer, the light of hope.

So, okay at this point you probably think I’ve lost it completely. But let me explain. We’ve just finished our Very Mental Christmas week, our aim being to share hints and tips to help mental health sufferers through the Christmas period. I do advise you check it out if you haven’t already! But one thing that has come out is how fearful some of these sufferers are of the holidays. I know that fear. I feel it too. It looms up like a huge dark cloud; the endless what ifs, the pressure of perfection, the stresses of finances, family squabbles over whose turn it is to host. Instead of being a time of peace and goodwill it becomes a monster waiting to rip us to shreds. When you are already struggling it feels utterly overwhelming.

From Darkness to Light

One thing that many people don’t realize is that Christmas day was designated as 25th December to coincide with the old pagan festivals of the winter solstice.  In a bid to win over new believers to the Christian faith, some of the pagan traditions were carried over. One of the most recognizable is the Christmas tree, originally a green bough dragged into the home and burnt to bring light to the dark. An offering to the gods with the hope that winter would end soon and warmth and light would return to the people.

Sometimes when you are battling with depression, your mind can feel like it’s stuck in an eternal, long winter. It’s cold and dark and feels relentless. It’s why that little bit of light, that glimmer of hope is so important. Someday the sun will return, it might not be tomorrow but it will come back. We just have to hold on to hope.

The Light of Hope

So, to all of you. Don’t try for the ‘perfect’ Christmas. Just have your Christmas, your way. Make time for your self-care, even if you have to be selfish to get it. Go easy on yourself. It’s ok not to be okay and if you need some encouragement, you can find some here. Hope can be a powerful thing, and while things may not be good now, it can get better. On Christmas night I’m going to light a candle as reminder of the light of hope: the hope that the darkness in my head will fade, that the new year will be better. That even though it’s winter now, it won’t be forever.

I’ll just leave you with this. It’s from one of my favourite Christmas songs and it’s my hope for the coming year.

“Have yourself a merry little Christmas, let your heart be light. Next year all our troubles will be out of sight.’

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

What a Bad Day Feels Like

Diary of a Bad Day

Most of my posts are aimed at information, or support and encouragement. I don’t often go into my own journey much. But this is something I want to share, if for no other reason it can give you an insight into what the mind of someone with depression can be like. Just from discussions with my own family, I know they don’t find it easy to understand what a bad day feels like.  But I also want to remind anyone going through this that the bad days don’t last forever. However much it may feel like it, they don’t.  As I write this I’m not too bad, I’ve been a bit up and down, but otherwise ok.  I wrote it as I felt it, so please be aware it’s not pretty.

21/11/2017

Why am I like this? I am at heart a fixer and yet I am incapable of fixing myself.  It’s the constant nagging belief that somewhere in my soul I’ve been stamped as not good enough. There is no shaking this off today. This is something ingrained and it impacts how I behave, how I am emotionally. It’s part of my mental health problem. It can make me needy, clingy and possessive. But also angry, volatile and spiteful. I hate me when I’m like this and would give anything not to be this way. Yet the question still constantly nags at me; why? Why am I like this?

Yesterday was one of those days. But it wasn’t there when I woke. It slammed into me out of the blue while out shopping. I mean shopping for heaven’s sake! From being fine to just so dragged into the darkness I was almost suffocating.  And what triggered it? Buying chocolate coins. Yep, I know. Stupid, right?  But picking up the chocolate coins for the children’s stockings for Christmas was suddenly a big deal. This will be our first Christmas not in our own home, my first Christmas on antidepressants, my first Christmas without dad… on and on the list went, and all darker thoughts than the last.  

Make it Stop

Then today. Today I have been struggling so much. The negative spiral from yesterday has continued and a huge feeling of unworthiness engulfed me this morning. The litany of self-abuse began…..Not pretty. Not thin. Too old. Ugly. Bad mom. Stupid. Irrationally jealous. Clumsy. Worthless. Worthless. Just so irrecoverably worthless. I’m praying to feel numb but it isn’t coming.  I’m hiding my arms because I’ve drawn blood with my fingernails. It was that or the blade. And I’m overwhelmed with guilt that all I want to do is draw more blood to help switch these feelings off..

All I see is how unworthy I am. I don’t deserve happiness, love, anything. How would anyone? Every part of me is saying I am not good, yet I should be ok. I have so much to be happy about. But it’s the sense that I don’t deserve anything good that’s crippling me.

I want to tell those I love what’s going on. But the fear is holding me back. It’s stifling me. I fear I will push them away. All these feelings are crashing around my brain and it’s like I can’t see anything but how unworthy I am. Like the jealousy. How do I explain that all it’s making me do is want to turn against myself?  To hate myself even more?

I’m terrified that it will scare them how dark my mind is going. Perhaps by recognizing these feelings today I will feel a little better. I know it’s depression that’s driving this. The rational part of my brain wants to see the reality, but it’s clouded. I just wish I knew why. All I want to do right now is let the darkness engulf me. I’m not going to let it, I have too many things to hold on to, but it’s really hard.

Being There

So as you can probably tell, those particular days were rough. But I got through. It took a little self-care, some encouragement and support and a few well timed hugs. So if there is someone you care about going through this, you now know something about what a bad day feels like. So be there for them, because can you imagine facing your own mind attacking you like that without someone to help you through?

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Take the Risk

Play it Safe or Take the Risk?

I have always been one of those people, the one who doesn’t take risks, goes for the safe option. I’ve stuck in the same job for 16 years because I know I can do it almost in my sleep. Depression has eroded my self esteem so much that more often than not fear paralyses me into inaction.  But sometimes we have to take the risk. We can’t just sit and let life pass us by. One thing that struck me when Alex wrote Fleeting Fragility was how often people let themselves be bound by fear and before we know it life has passed us by.

Six months ago I took a huge risk. I packed up mine and my children’s belongings and left my marriage of eleven years. I won’t bore you with the reasons why; just that things had gotten to a point that things had to change.  So I took a risk, I left what would have been financially easier, so that my children would be able to grow safely and happily. I had taken a hit to my mental health during the course of the relationship, and while leaving didn’t stop the spiral immediately, I didn’t completely drop into the abyss.

I took the risk. And it paid off.

Chances

Not every risk we take pays off. Even the individuals who try to make romantic connections via Twitter to people they hardly know are taking a risk. Okay, they probably get rebuffed a lot. But they’re trying to find some happiness in a world that is increasingly negative.

If we don’t take the chance nothing will ever happen. When Alex started this website, it was a risk. It still is sometimes. Making this work as a business is hard work and sometimes can feel like an uphill struggle. Combining this with the fact that we both have issues with depression and anxiety could make this seem an unlikely enterprise.  There’s risks to our mental health simply from how some can respond to what we write about.

But we take the risk. Everyday. Because it’s our purpose.

Reach Out

I guess this is the crux of my point with this weeks post. Reach out. Take the risk. If you know someone is suffering with mental health issues, reach out to them. Yes, there’s the chance you may not be able to help them, but it’s more likely that just knowing that someone is there will help. Likewise as a sufferer if you know that something or someone is a big contributing factor to your depression then it’s maybe time to take a risk and make a change. Speaking as someone who hates taking chances and yet has recently decided to take the risk and let myself be vulnerable again, your happiness could be on the line.  After all if you don’t then you could leave it one day too late.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

 

Hope

Hope: Depression’s Nemesis

Sometimes when you are suffering depression hope seems like a dream, unattainable and impossible. Having a purpose seems pointless if all you can see is the darkness. But it’s important.  Hope is not the cure, but it can help. It’s something I’ve found I say a lot to people when I’m interacting on Twitter.  Have hope. Don’t give in. Keep Fighting. 

You see, I am probably one of the most stubborn people you will ever meet. Yet I have depression. I have anxiety. Both can crush me beyond belief. They can make me numb, they can be harrowing and debilitating. Anxiety can leave me unable to speak and I get unbelievably angry and frustrated when it does. Depression can send me into such desolation all I can do to find an escape is to cut. (If you haven’t already, please read I Am Cut. It just explains so much!)

Not Giving In

But the thing with me is my stubbornness won’t let me give in to the darkness. I fight it. And because I’m stubborn I don’t give up on others either. I try to give them hope when they are lacking it, I’ll fight to get them to see there is light in the darkness. In some ways I’m relentless. ( Just ask Alex! I must drive him crazy sometimes!)

To me that is hope. Being the light in someone else’s darkness is giving them hope. Depression is ugly, brutal and corrosive. It robs you of so much. It can wreck friendships, destroy careers, ruin families and steal people from us. Being side by side with someone, fighting for them, supporting them, is the greatest weapon in your fight against their depression. It will equip them to be able to push back the darkness.

So if you haven’t already, read our manifesto. Join us on Twitter or Facebook. Be the light in someone else’s darkness. Give them hope. Because without it, depression wins.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Light up the Dark Like A Firework!

Light Up The Sky

So of course as it’s bonfire night I have to tailor this week’s pick a little around fireworks. Today is bittersweet; I love fireworks, I love bonfires but it’s a love I inherited from my dad and this will be the first one without him.  As I was watching the early fireworks last night I was struck by the beautiful lights illuminating the dark and I had a thought; What Alex and I are trying to achieve with Pushing Back the Shadows is similar. We’re trying to light up the dark like a firework. Sometimes in little bursts, but sometimes with a blast that lights up our lives and others.

Through the darkness of depression we are sharing our stories, we are supporting others and we are fighting back the darkness.

So this week I want to look at bringing a little light.

Firework

Today, despite being somewhat bittersweet as I’ve mentioned, is a good day. It’s cold and clear and it’s been a morning of good things.  It started with a cuddle from my little one, followed by a good breakfast. Then we went to see Alex lead worship at a local church. It was great to see and I was heartened by the comment from one of the congregation saying how much she thinks he’s come on from where he was. It’s true (even if he won’t admit it) he really has. Like the post glow sticks, he’s had to break before he could shine. And boy is he shining!

Sometimes it’s difficult to see the progress we are making, set backs (like Alex’s twitter account being off-line for nearly a week) can knock you back. It can make you question the purpose of what you are trying to achieve. But if we take for example the twitter issue, we stopped and had a think and decided it was time I got on twitter too, we worked other social media and kept investigating issues on how to fix the problem.

Light Up Like A Firework

It could have knocked us back. It nearly did, but between the two of us we kept pushing forwards. And it was so worth it!

Even with our biggest source of traffic off-line we gained new subscribers, I gained followers of my own. I discovered great joy in connecting with new people. I got to support others (even when I was on a black day myself, and it helped pull me through) One thing that stands out is the support we each received and the welcome back Alex got when his twitter account came back online. It was phenomenal!

We’ve gone through a lot of changes with our journies, like a butterfly or a diamond we’ve evolved in darkness. But even in the darkness something amazing is happening. Like it or not, we are reaching people, we are having a positive effect and in the process we are changing too. Maybe we won’t ever be fully recovered, but right now I’d rather be a firework lighting up the dark every once in a while. After all it can be beautiful.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Numb

There are a lot of different features to depression. No two people suffer in the same way. Yes, there can be cross overs, but in the same way as we are unique, so is our mental health. And sometimes we handle things differently to how people expect us to. I’m writing this early, because to be honest I want to capture this while it’s here in my head. Today, I am numb. It’s not the harrowing void that Alex talks about. Its just……numb.

No Tears

I knew today was going to be hard. I prepared myself in every way I could. But how can you prepare for your final farewell to your dad ? The honest answer is, you can’t.So many people were there, so many who could openly express their grief. And I couldn’t.
I welled up when the hearse arrived at my familial home, but no tears came. Again at the end of the service, tears brimmed but did not spill. Outside, when people gathered to say their condolences, I managed to speak to a few people before I had to escape. Too many people, too many faces…. just too much. But even now, I’m sitting here there are no tears. I’m just numb.
The Mask
And yet, I know I’m not doing great. Inside I’m screaming. Where others could openly say their goodbyes, I couldn’t. I knew if I let the numbness leave me and let the sadness through, I wouldn’t stop.  I kept up the mask, because it was the only thing that I knew would get me through. And I had to get through. Had to. This was one of those times when the mask was for my own protection, rather than to fool others into thinking I was okay.
Yet I could see the looks. The people thinking how hard faced I was being. The wondering why I didn’t cry, or why I would disappear from the wake every so often.
The simplest answer is is that this is the only way I could.cope.
Coping
Another family member who suffers with severe depression and anxiety found the day hard. They too, had to escape from the crush of people, locate some peace and just sit. They turned to additional medication to help them through, I turned to 4 glasses of wine. But we both got the same odd looks. The questioning glances. But it meant I was numb enough I could talk, even to people who I would have preferred to stay firmly in my past.  Whenever feelings threatened to overwhelm me the numbness became as hard as stone, hollow and cold.
Even today, with grief and loss at the forefront of people’s minds, there was still judgement from some over how someone was trying to process an incredibly difficult day.
I Just Feel Numb
 But there were also those who fill my heart with warmth, even if right now I can’t feel it. Those who just simply sat, held my hand or let me be. From the friend who had a fidget spinner on standby, to the family member who stood up for me to say give me a minute when I was really starting to struggle…to them I want to say thank you. Thank you for everything that you do, you probably have no idea how much you helped me.
I am the first to beat myself up for what I did or didn’t do. At some point soon I’m going to berate myself for not crying at my father’s funeral. I will judge my own behaviour as harshly as some of those who looked askance at me today. I can already feel it creeping from the darkest corners of my mind.
But you know what? I hope that I’ll look back and read this. I’ll see the progress I’ve made, but also forgive myself for how I coped.  Even if I was in a strange fog of emptiness. In this state of numb I can see how amazing some of the people around me are compared with the attitude of others. I’m thankful for them, even if I couldn’t say it to them today.
Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

That’s Insomnia!

Can’t sleep? Me too!

When you have insomnia, how often do you hear people say this? What they’re usually refering to is the odd sleepless night. It belittles what is a serious problem. I can confidently say I have prolonged bouts of sleeplessness, but I would not apply the label of insomniac. Take tonight, it’s gone midnight and I’ve been up since 6:45am. Despite several attempts at a nap this afternoon, a glass of red wine this evening,  relaxing music playing for the last hour, I’m still awake.
But I don’t have insomnia. I can’t sleep tonight, is all.
No sleep for months? That’s Insomnia
Insomnia is truly horrible. The consistent issue of not being able to get rest, to find hour after hour, every day you cannot sleep…it’s truly a waking nightmare.
Because insomnia and sleep disorders seem to go hand in hand with mental health issues, the treatment often seems to briefly focus on sleeping tablets as a short term fix while they look at the mental problem.
But there’s a snag here. Insomnia is also a mental health issue! It can even cause other mental health problems like depression and anxiety!  Treating one part without treating the other is like only taking out half a tumour… the likelihood is it’s going to come back.
The issue isn’t helped when sleeplessness is confused with insomnia.  I’m sleepless tonight. I’m struggling because I’m grieving, I’ve had 2 fairly serious anxiety attacks today, it’s to be expected.
But this is not insomnia. I could take a couple of Kalms and I’d probably go quite quickly. I can’t because I’ve had a glass of wine. Most nights I go out like a light. But even when I had to fill in my mental health assessment with the doctor, she still suggested sleeping tablets. They aren’t the be all and end all! If you read or listen to Luce’s interview you’ll see what I mean. I know I haven’t been able to sleep lately, but that’s because of what is going with my family at the moment. But even on the nights like tonight, I can pop Disney’s Robin Hood on and I’ll be out before long.
What is it then?
This is not true insomnia. When night after night for weeks, months on end go by with little to no sleep, that’s insomnia. When the sleeping tablets don’t make a dent, that’s insomnia. When you’re still staring at the ceiling when you’ve had zopiclone, that’s insomnia. Alex has insomnia. If you read My Sleepless Battle you’ll see the difference.
It needs treating properly. We need to stop confusing sleeplessness with insomnia. We need to look at it as part of the whole. Yes, depression and insomnia often go hand in hand, but treatment needs to be more than just the band-aid of sleeping tablets.

So to all of you insomniacs out there, I’m not saying me too. I’m not going to make a billion suggestions that help me sleep, because I know they won’t help. I just wish you to rest as best you can. X

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

Take Step One

Get Back Up, Take Step One

“Get back up, take step one, leave the darkness, feel the Sun.”

Music is so powerful isn’t it? It can be a balm when you’re hurting, it can break you, it can speak to you and make you hear something that you’ve been deaf to for too long.   The line above is from a song by Danny Gokey and it’s a hugely powerful message.

Get back up. Take step one. This is reverberating in my head with every breath I take at the moment.

Broken

Right now, I am hurting. Really hurting. Last week, Alex had to write a post in place of my editor’s pick. He wrote Fleeting Fragility , and both the writing and the fact that he stepped in at a time of great difficulty means the world to me. But in terms of my mental health recovery, I feel like I’ve been knocked back to square one.

Currently I am not in a good place. Alright, I’ll be honest. I’m actually in a terrible place. I am suffocating from grief from losing my Dad this week. It’s choking me and there have been days I have not been able to cope. I am not sleeping properly, anxiety is flying through my veins, I feel like I am broken. Tears come and go with wracking sobs or silent numbness. Yet in the midst of all this, even with the darkest passenger in my head sinking its claws even deeper, I am surviving. I am coping.

Yes, some things are harder. I won’t lie to you. It is. I am even less able to cope with being around people. I am struggling to deal with seeing the sadness in my children’s eyes, see the sorrow that has wrapped around my mum and sisters. It all hurts. I am plagued because I know they are worried for me, in spite of their own pain. I feel guilty because I want to be able to bring them comfort, yet everything in my being is telling me to crawl into the darkest hole and hide away.

But I’m fighting it.

Another Day

I may not be doing everything I’d normally do. There have been a few consecutive days of dry shampoo and eating junk. But if you consider that I’m trying to deal with a huge loss when I’m already battling depression, I’m not doing so badly. With the help of the most amazing friend I am getting through. Alex has been a miracle, he’s taken over chores, helped with the kids or just listened while I’ve sobbed. Thanks to him, I’m surviving. By taking on these things (which he will say is not much, but I’d argue that it’s a lot) he’s helped me be there for my children. It’s meant I can face seeing my family and brace myself to organise and arrange things so we can honour my dad.

It’s meant that today, I’ve cooked a proper meal for my children. I’ve gone and got groceries. I washed my hair. I’ve taken lots of little steps that I didn’t believe I could.

So if you’ve suffered a relapse, get back up.  Even what can feel like a step back can still be progress. I can say this because today could easily have turned into one of those days; I’ve been fighting the urge to cut day and night since my dad collapsed.

But I haven’t.

I am not going to let the darkness swallow me. I have things to hold on to.

My family and friends. My children. Alex. Not only are they all supporting me, they are my reasons for not going under. They are my reasons to get back up, take step one.

After all the best way for me to honour my dad is to try to get through this without any new scars.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.

What We Don’t Say

Last week, I talked about the scars you don’t see. Those little wounds that we’ve incurred to our soul that form part and parcel of who we are. This week I want to look at another aspect of depression and anxiety that I’m finding seems to be common; what we don’t say.

I am one of those people who can talk and talk, I can rattle on and on about nothing at all. You’d think that it would mean I don’t have issues with talking about my feelings. You couldn’t be more wrong.

Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

Yes, I know this is the infamous American Military policy for handling homosexuality within its ranks. The idiocy of the ‘stick your head in the sand and its doesn’t exist’ attitude astounds me.  And yet in so many ways I do it too in regards to my own mental health. For a long time I have been resolutely adamant that I do not have anxiety; I only gave in and admitted that my depression had re-surfaced after I’d already let it deteriorate to the extent that self-harm had become an issue. I am stupidly stubborn that way.

What’s surprising is that I am not alone in this. Even people I know who have had long-term issues with depression seem to wait until things get desperate before taking the trip to the doctor for help. But why? If you found a lump and suspected cancer you’d go to the doctor as soon as possible, especially if you have had a tumor before. So why not for your mental health? Likewise you’d tell those you care about, even if only to ask their advice. Yet we don’t

Fear and Loathing

After talking to one of my friends, I realised there were commonalities that seem to hold people back . Fear of being stigmatised, prejudices about medication, judgement over relapsing and lack of understanding all were common factors. Combine all that with crippling self-doubt, low self-esteem and self-hatred and it’s no wonder our lips remain sealed! The list of ‘what we don’t say’ mounts up, begins to cripple us mentally and add to the feelings of self-loathing.

One outlet that does seem to work for sufferers is social media. Yes, social media can have it evils too for sufferers. (check out Alex’s post on Social media) But I do find it heartening how many people are incredibly supportive to each other on Twitter and Facebook. Maybe it’s the anonymity of being behind a keyboard, but the barriers come down and we’ve found that people are able to share their stories, give and gain advice and find a sense of community.

This is all wonderful and I fully support it. In modern times there is precious little community to be found. We don’t know our neighbours, families are more spread out, everyone is just so busy. The amount of times I and Alex have heard the comment ‘people have lives, they’re too busy’ from people trying to excuse their lack of support in the real world is ridiculous. Too busy to send a text? Not likely. I get tired of the onus that’s placed on sufferers to always reach out first.

The Flip Side

But it also cuts both ways.  I am as guilty of this as anyone. There is the constant struggle to admit what is going on with me to those I care about. I fear that look in their eyes, I fear their rejection more than those I can talk to online. It will hurt in a way that is more brutal than I could bear. A stranger on-line can be simply un-followed or blocked. A friend, a loved one that you see every day? That’s just not so easy. It’s why I probably don’t always say what I mean.

Too many times I’ve put myself out there and found I’ve ended up crushed. The internal scars I bear from a long-term controlling relationship have already made me want to retreat and hide. Years of being made to feel unworthy and useless have left their mark. And the last time I opened my heart to someone, the rejection sent me spinning off into the darkness so deeply it nearly claimed me permanently. It just validated everything I’d been told all those years. I WAS useless, undesirable and stupid for believing that anyone could or would love me. So I typed the word ‘bye’, locked the bathroom door and put the blade to my wrist.

What We Don’t Say Can’t Hurt Us

Now, none of this is to make anyone feel guilty or bad. I certainly don’t want your pity. There are times when I feel that pull into the darkness again. (I’m battling it now as I write this, the pervasive thought has been nagging so much my head hurts) But I wanted to give you an idea of why. Why I, and others can’t open up. The scars of what has happened to us before make it difficult to talk, to be frank about how we feel. Combine that with the fears and stigma we face because of our mental health, we become gagged.

All I can say is that, for both sides, supporters and sufferers alike, we have to keep trying. Keep talking. Try and speak the words we don’t say. By whatever medium works, because it could save a life.

Why not subscribe?

Subscribe today to receive a free chapter from my eBook “Pills and Blades”, a subscriber-exclusive podcast episode and more!

Become a PatronDisclaimer: I am not an expert, nor am I medically qualified.  This blog is based on my personal experiences only.  Always seek medical advice in the first instance.