A Potato, An Egg and Coffee

It’s a random title for a post, that’s for certain, but it’s a story that I wanted to share with you.  I promise it’ll make sense!  Trust me, it isn’t about my lunch – I don’t cook myself a potato very often, I’m allergic to eggs but the coffee sounds good – it’s actually a story that I read on Facebook a little while ago.  Check out the video below:

A Potato, An Egg and Coffee
Which one are you?

More often than not, we go through really trying times in our lives.  This is particularly noticeable when we’re struggling with our depression at the same time.  We find it easier to pick out the difficult times.  What can we do about it though?

We could try and be like the potato and try and be strong so we avoid the weakness but in the end the struggle will grind us down until we go soft.

We could be like the eggs, feeling fragile and letting the water make us harder, but we don’t want to harden ourselves to everything around us, making ourselves difficult to reach or distant.

Instead, we need to be like the coffee.  When we encounter those trials of life, we should allow ourselves to be shaped by them, just like a butterfly or a diamond does.  Take it as an opportunity and seize it to turn it into something new!  You will grow from it and emerge stronger because of it.

Take care guys!

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.

Episode 11: Social Media Depression – Real or Myth?

Social Media Depression

Sometimes social media can be a great thing, can’t it, but sometimes it isn’t as good as it’s cracked up to be.  Join Alex as he further explores the topic of social media depression and social media’s social mess to see whether the idea of this type of depression is real or a myth.  As he investigates to see whether it’s a useful communication tool or simply a social barrier that stops us from communicating, drop us a comment to let us know your thoughts on the subject!

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 Patron - Social Media Depression - Real or MythDisclaimer: 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.

Practically Perfect – Part 4 – Wrong

Welcome to Part 4 of our Practically Perfect series.  Last week we looked at a couple of practicalities surrounding representative access and prepaid prescription certificates.  If you missed it, you can check it out here.  Today, we shall be looking at what happens when you get it wrong.  It’s unfortunately inevitable that, at some point, you will get it wrong, so let’s look at how we fix that.

Getting It Wrong

Everyone gets it wrong at some point.  It’s part of being human, part of life.  We’re fallible, we sometimes go with what we think is right without taking other avenues into consideration.  As such, we have the potential to screw things up royally without necessarily intending to.  But what do we do?  How do we right that wrong?  Let’s have a look.

Realise There’s A Problem

The first and most important thing is realising that there is a problem.  If you refuse to admit that there is anything wrong, you will never fix it and it’s likely that the whole situation will just get worse.  Think of the old adage about sweeping things under the rug and that should give you a pretty good idea.  The problems just get bigger and bigger until they’re noticeable.

Once you realise that there is a problem, you can fix it.  All too often I see problems where people are ignoring the fact that something is wrong.  It leads to relationships being strained and tense.  Realising there is a problem is very much the first step.

Give Them Space

Once you’ve identified that there is a problem, don’t rush into trying to fix it.  Give them a little space.  Sometimes they will need a little time to adjust to what’s happened, especially if it’s kicked them into a spiral.  As with everything I say, this is dependent on the person and what the person is like, as to whether or not it will work, but this is certainly one for me.

The reason I mention this one is because I know someone who, when they do something wrong and they realise there is a problem, will start bombarding with messages or phone calls to try and fix it.  This is one of the worst things that you can do, as it leads to them feeling badgered – something that I’ve mentioned in our series of Talking Things Through.

At the same time, you don’t want to leave it too long.  Going for over a week without speaking of what happened is equally bad, as it will conjure up all sorts of worst-case scenarios in their mind.  Is the friendship irreparable?  Can there be reconciliation?  Will they ever hear from you again?  Too many of those can spark another depressive spiral or anxiety attack.  I’m sure that’s the last thing you would want.

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

Listen

This one is really the crux of the matter, especially if you don’t think you’ve done anything wrong or you think they are being a little oversensitive.  Don’t get me wrong, it could be that they are being oversensitive but you might also find that it is their mental health that has caused the problem.

As I’ve mentioned in Talking Things Through, listening can be key to solving the problem.  If it is their mental health that’s causing the issue, particularly in the case where you might not see the problem, then listening can open up their reasoning for it.  It can be a vital tool.

Learn From It

I suppose this one, along with apologising, goes without saying, really, but it’s still an integral part of when things go wrong.  Learning from the experience will help you avoid it next time.  If it’s related to their mental health, it’s really important to learn from it because it can prevent future problems down the line.  This is even more true if the problem may repeat itself due to something you would not normally have picked up on.

A good example of this is one that I’ve cited before where I was sitting in the car with my friend on a particularly bad day.  I hadn’t eaten anything for breakfast and, as we were driving, I wasn’t particularly interested in my lunch.  She was trying to get me to eat, telling me I needed to eat, and I ended up snapping.  It wasn’t anything that she had said, it was simply that I was having a really bad depression day.  Needless to say, she listened to what the problem was, learned from it and we haven’t had an experience like that since.

Next Week

Join us next week for wrapping up this series with one of the most important parts of my practical tips.  Cryptic, I know, but you will have to come back to find out what I’m referring to!  See you then!

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.

Identifying Identity

Identity

In a world of shifting values, we are constantly questioning who we are. Society tells us we should be thinner, taller, prettier, more muscular and so many other things that sometimes we don’t know whether we are any good.  There are some many ads on the TV and on websites and video sites like YouTube, all aimed at telling us that we need the latest products to make us look like all our favourite celebrities.  Even on social media, we get ads telling us about the latest product or regime to give us that “perfect body”, like this that I found on Twitter the other day:

The Twitter stream and Facebook news feeds are full of similar posts, touting the latest products, regimes and more in order to change the way we look.  Supplementing those posts are posts about body image, mostly ones that shame people who aren’t a certain size or don’t have a certain hairstyle, hair type, eye colour or more.

Moreover, society wants us to conform, to be like everyone else.  If we’re different, that’s considered to be a bad thing.  As a result, it makes it very hard for us to find our identity.  As the world tries to tell us who we are, the real us gets buried beneath the landslide of labels that threaten us.

Labels

One of the other prevailing problems surrounding society and identity is the persistence of labels, particularly in the field of medicine.  Our illness becomes our identity.  If someone is depressed, they are depressed.  If someone has bipolar, they are bipolar.  Their medical condition is a label that’s attached to them firmly.  It dominates their mind, preventing them from thinking of themselves in any other light.

Labels are for jars, NOT people.Medical labels aren’t the only ones that people get stuck with but they are predominantly ones that are hard to shake.  They get inside your mind and stick with you, forcing you to start thinking of yourself in that manner.  You start to think of yourself as depressed, bipolar, anxious, an insomniac and all the other labels that get allocated to you.  They become so ingrained that you can’t think of yourself as anything else.

Do you find that?  Have you had an experience of being labelled or feeling as though you carry a label?  I’m sure you’d agree, it’s a horrible sensation.

Identifying My Identity

With all those aforementioned factors pushing at me, it can be hard to identify my own identity.  Depression and anxiety cloud my mind, collaborating with my insomnia, to make me believe that that’s all there is, that I am the sum of my depression, I am the sum of my anxiety and I am the sum of my insomnia.  Trapped in that tunnel, that’s all I can see, like tunnel vision if you will.

But that’s not me.

A man with a question mark face.It takes a great mental shift but, at some point, you start to realise that you’re not the sum of your mental illnesses.  I have depression but I am not depression.  It is a part of me, it does not define me.  My mental illness is only a small part of me.  Yes, it drives my life, can give me copious numbers of bad days but it is not who I am.  Even though it also gives me the entire talking point and drive for this website, it’s not my entire life.

It can be the same way for you.  Your mental illness is either all of you or part of you but it’s what you make it.  It is your choice.  That choice, that mindset can be changed with a considerable amount of energy and time but it can happen.  It can happen if you choose for it to happen but only if you choose.

You are not the sum of your mental illness.

Nor are you the sum of your past mistakes.

You are you.  Wonderful, unique and different.

Just like me.

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.

Practically Perfect – Part 3 – Representative

Welcome to Part 3 of the Practically Perfect series!  If you missed part 2 then don’t worry, you can check it out here.  This week we’re looking at having a representative and some of the different ways that that can help you.  We also take a look at another tip for our UK followers, something that I wasn’t aware about that has helped me a lot!  Shall we get started?

Having a Representative

Representative access is something that I would highly recommend setting up if you haven’t already.  A lot of people might assume this is something you do with your parents with things like their bank accounts, just in case you need to manage their affairs for them, sort of like a Power of Attorney.  In actuality, setting up representative access isn’t quite like that, although it has its similarities.  In a nutshell, you arrange for a person you trust to speak on your behalf in different situations.

The best example I can give is my GP’s.  I have a friend set up to speak on my behalf, so she can phone up to enquire about appointments, book appointments, order repeat prescriptions for me and much more.  Similarly, she is set up on numerous other official capacities – speaking with the council, etc – so that she can speak on my behalf.

Representative access doesn’t just have to be set up at the doctor’s.  As I just mentioned, it can be set up over a number of different companies and situations.  In last week’s post, I mentioned how this can be useful for work, although it’s important to note that not every workplace will do this.  Likewise, not every company will allow representative access to people.  It’s all about approaching the companies and asking if they are willing for representatives to be set up.

Why Have a Representative?

When I was working, I used to spend all day taking phone calls, ready to deal with customer enquiries or customer accounts.  As a result, I developed a strong desire to avoid the phone as much as possible.  If I don’t have to make a phone call or can justify procrastinating, I will do so.  More often than not, now, I will get an anxiety attack just before having to make the call, which almost makes the call itself a lot worse.

As a direct result of all this, having a representative who can make those phone calls on my behalf is a great blessing.  It prevents me from having to do it myself, which reduces the number of panic attacks I have in a week and also gets the things I need accomplishing done.  It’s a win-win situation, as it helps me keep on top of things.

The other important point to mention is that it can tie in to the same reason you would take someone with you to a doctor’s appointment.  People say that having someone with you is useful because they might catch things that you miss, think of questions that you might not think of and they are there for support.  In the same way, a representative might think of those questions you wouldn’t think of.  In my case, if I’m on a bad depression day, my representative can be pushy with the doctor to get me an appointment, where I would have given up at the first hurdle.

There are plenty of other reasons but those are the ones that stick out for me.

My UK Top Tip

To those of you living in the UK, here is a quick tip.  My representative helped me set it up, which is why it’s being mentioned in this post.  As we all know, prescription charges can be expensive when they start to mount up, especially when you’re on something that you have to take daily.  If you’re a UK resident then you can get an NHS Prepayment Medical Certificate.  This basically allows you to pay a set price per month for the certificate and then you can get as many prescriptions a month all for that one price.

So, the certificate costs just over £10.  If you get two prescriptions a month, you’re already saving!  It comes out as Direct Debit and then you can get an unlimited number of prescriptions a month by only paying that £10 a month.  The certificate itself is the size of a credit card, so it fits in your purse or wallet easily as well.

Find out more here.  It’s saved me a lot of money already!  I have two prescriptions a month and was getting extra prescriptions as the doctor changed my medication.

Also, your representative can go and collect the prescriptions for you.  Generally, all they need is your prepaid prescription certificate, your date of birth and your address.

Next Week

In next week’s post, I’m going to be looking at what happens when you get it wrong.  Invariably, it won’t be plain sailing, you will get something wrong at some point.  It’s what you do after that’s important…but what do you do?  Find out next week!

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.

Luce – the Interview

 The Transcript

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.

Luce: 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.

Oh no!

I think you two are around the same height!

So which mental health conditions do you live with?

Clinical depression.

And how long have you been struggling with that?

On and off about a decade.

Ok, Quite a while then?

Yeah.

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?

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?

Yeah

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!

That’s ok.

Thank you.</em

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.

It’s OK not to be OK

I’m not OK…

In today’s society, there is often a lot of pressure to be OK.  Whether we’re having a good day or a bad day, we’re almost expected to say we’re fine, that we’re OK, that everything is alright.  Do you feel that?  I know I do.

Wake up -> pretend I'm OK -> sleep -> repeat

More often than not, I find I’m trying to get through the day pretending I’m OK.  It doesn’t matter whether I’m on the verge of falling apart or not, it seems to be my go-to answer.  Is that something that you do?  A lot of my friends do.  I guess we’re all just caving into that pressure from society to put that face on and to pretend that we’re alright.  It’s part of the reason that I wear my mask.  I’m sure I’m not the only one.

With so much pressure to be OK, we often find that we put that face on and worry that we have to appear normal, perfect.  Nothing can be wrong in our lives because that simply wouldn’t do.  Perhaps it’s just me, though I don’t think so.  It’s like that line from Let It Go in Disney’s Frozen: “Don’t let them in, don’t let them see…”  We want to hide that we’re not OK, that we’re breaking inside.

But do you know what?

It’s OK.

It’s OK not to be OK

Exactly what it says on the tin: if you’re not feeling alright, if you’re not fine then don’t worry because that’s absolutely fine.  Having a bad day?  Struggling to find something to hold onto?  Not only are you in good company, as I’m sure everyone else reading this will tell you, but you’re also wonderful just the way you are.

Truth is: we don’t have to be OK.

Don't let a bad day make you feel like you have a bad life.

That’s right: we don’t.  Every single one of us is only human, we have our bad days.  If you’re struggling then you’re allowed to be struggling.  Don’t beat yourself up if you feel like you’re not where you should be. Everyone has those moments, it’s all part of the journey.

No one ever said the road was going to be perfect and easy.  The road to recovery is difficult and painful and there will be many times that we stumble and fall.  Whether we hit rock bottom, make a mistake or relapse completely, it’s OK.  You’re a work in progress and on the road to recovery.  It’s to be expected.

You will be OK

One day you will.  I can’t tell you when, whether it’s months or years or even decades, but one day you will get through your struggle.  It may not be in the way you expect, as you may never be free from your mental health condition, but you will learn to cope.  Together we can make it through.  Just like the butterfly in my last depression support post, your struggle will shape you into something beautiful.  So hold on.

As I said, you may relapse or make a mistake but that’s fine, you’re allowed.  Just remember that you’re worth it and you will get through.

Stay strong!

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.