Mental Health Awareness week/month 👊 my thoughts + experience.

Hi everyone! How are you all today? Two incredible bloggers: Arya and shruti from the Indian Avaaz started this tag in order to spread awareness of mental health related issues and it is such an amazing idea and way to do so! (Check out their post linked above!) Last week was mental health awareness week (8th-14th) and all of May is also dedicated to mental health awareness month. I am so grateful to have been asked by Gracie Chick to take part in this and I hope to be able to contribute in spreading awareness. 

In the tag, you have to write a post dedicated to Mental Health Awareness week, nominate 2 other bloggers or as many as you would like to do the same and then give a few links to some helplines and support organizations for anyone reading this who is suffering from a Mental Health Illness. I would also like to write abit about my experience with a Mental Illness as I think if you are going through it, I can at least buckle up the courage to write about something that might be relatable and has a chance of helping you (sorry I find it easier writing as if I am speaking directly to a person). Before I start I would like to apologise if in any way something I say is written in the wrong manner as I am by no means an expert and only want to help.

I think that in life you will either bear witness to someone else’s Mental Illness or pay host to your own. Only a lucky few are spared and get to say when they are an old age that they have not had any experience with mental Illness. Maybe because of the stigma and stereotype surrounding it all, judgement locks itself onto those who have experienced it yet don’t even know it. 

Mental health just like physical health can be unpredictable and in my opinion is just as much out of your control. This seems to escape the eye of judgement when it is viewed as a way of seeking attention. People with a mental Illness (it is not a label) wish not to draw any more attention than they have to when it comes to the way they are feeling when there is a chance to speak about it so why would it be attention seeking if the point of spreading awareness is to educate people who don’t understand and help people with a mental Illness to speak out about it instead of keep it in? (You are encouraged to speak out so why is it viewed like everyone has no difficulty in doing so?) It is by no means something that is easy to talk about so it is not and the view of attention seeking is placed on it anyway. The world can be a spiteful place and I reckon it is because people are scared of accepting what pain others endure as they fail to understand it is not a choice, it is out of control. Word needs to be spread so that a deeper understanding can be gained by people who genuinely cannot fathom what it means or would feel like to have a mental Illness. The stigma and stereotype need not be fed, it does not need to exist as it is an untrue way of looking at the situation at hand. 

Know that how you are feeling feeling is not your fault or else it would not be happening. 

I thought I would write about my experience with a Mental illness, this may be difficult for some of you to read (I hate saying that because it’s difficult to read but it is even more difficult for those who must feel it every day). 

My experience

I was put on medication twice when I was younger to help combat my undiagnosed chronic illness (mainly for the migraines) and both times I experienced depression as a side effect. At the time (I think I was 14) I did not see the signs and link them to the medication as I thought it was helping me get better and it was only a small dose. I did not understand why everytime something happy happened I did not feel a part of it (even when it was directed at me) I couldn’t process it, I did not get why jokes were funny and I didn’t feel as if I was a part of anything going on around me. When I laughed or smiled I felt silly and fake. I felt disconnected like a part of me wasn’t plugged in. Looking back it is difficult to describe the feeling and thoughts that went though my head as they feel like they came from a different person entirely. I’m glad I can barely remember my thoughts at the time because it scares me how numb I felt to not even feel scared anymore. Depression and pain do not mix well and my worse thoughts came when I had flare-ups and had to lay down and be left with my wandering mind. The mind can be a very lonely place to be and I could feel nothing outside of it, but I wanted to (and not in a good way). A massive part of me did not trust myself and I think that’s when I realized. I had relatives staying at the time and I did not want to make it into a big thing so I told my mum when they had left and she called up the rest of the family. I was scrunched up on the floor by my bookcase as I told her I didn’t see the point in anything anymore and I’d felt incredibly intrigued to do dangerous things to myself. I did not believe I would be missed, my mind wouldn’t let me and I could not have been more wrong as my parents cried when they heard me say it. Looking back now I realize the biggest reason I told them how I was feeling was deep down I knew I would be missed and I didn’t want to do that to them. As soon as I told them they said “it’s those tablets” and I was taken off them. I started to feel more like myself again but it took a good while to forget the feeling of it all. What really scares me looking back is that when we told the doctor at the hospital about what had happened he wasn’t surprised, like it had been a possibility anyway and all I had to do was stop the tablets, it felt like a routine checkup, like nothing had even happened. Why was I given the tablets if he knew even the smallest dose could do that? The thing about Undiagnosed Illness’s is that before they believe you when you say my head hurts or I feel tired or my body hurts ect The first thing they do is make you see a therapist to see if you are depressed (it’s like a tongue in cheek way of saying you are making up your physical pain when mental Illness’s aren’t made up either. Classic example of how invisible Illness’s are treated, if something cannot be seen they believe it does not exist) to have to admit that at that time I did feel depressed was a difficult thing for me to do, although I knew it wasn’t the underlying cause of my pain, it was the result of the medication they had given me (the way people judge can have a resounding effect on whether or not you speak out about it). The second time this happened it was with different tablets but the same results (I was able to identify and link this to how I had been feeling before and not let it go on for as long). This has put me off taking anything that could possibly help my migraines which is ashame because I want to get better. I’m grateful that all I had to do was stop taking the tablets and mentally feel better (even if it took me a long time to realise it) because I know it is not as simple as that for the majority of people. I would be scared to feel that way and think there is nothing I can do to help it, but there is something you can do and that is ask for help. Of course there are always times when I feel down because of my pain but I would never say I feel as bad as I felt back then.

There doesn’t have to be a reason you feel the way you do or why things are happening to you so don’t be angry with yourself if you cannot find one. The fact of the matter is, you feel this way and these things are happening to you so you should tell somebody. If I hadn’t of told my parents what was going on, it would have never crossed my mind that the tablets were the cause, I would have stayed on them and I dread to think what would have happened.

Be proud of yourself for reaching out for help, it is a brave thing to do. It is never too late to speak out either to someone you know or someone you don’t. Your family and friends won’t be annoyed with you if you choose to speak to someone else, they don’t have a right to be, it is your choice. If anything they will be proud of you for speaking out about it full stop. Although you may not feel like it, you are stronger than you think. I know that you can have the entire world at the ready to speak with you but the fact of the matter is you will still find it hard because the fear of judgement is there (even if it is not in reality) and not even you know how to describe what is going on inside you. 

Here are a list of support groups: 

Mind – are there if you need someone to talk to, support or advice and reliable information regarding mental health. They believe that no-one should have to face a mental health problem alone. They are also there to support people who are likely to develop mental health problems. 

I thought I would add a link to a support group who are also for family/friends who want to know how they can be of comfort and support to their loved ones too:

Panda’s foundation – provide support, advice and help to individuals, family’s and/or carer’s. They are available through their helpline and also through their email which is available to contact 7 days a week.

There are and have been times when those I love open up to me about what they are going through (I won’t go into detail as these are not my stories to be told) and I feel like I am of no help to them, even if they say i was afterwards. It is by no means a burden or annoyance (remember that if you need to speak out to your family/friends) as we all try to pull together and help at these times. I just want to make all of their pain disappear  (even if it means sharing a load) but I don’t know how because in reality that is not possible. I want to help them cope and find a way to make them believe me when I say it will be okay. Okay is neither worse off or better and it seems like the most relevant thing coming out of my mouth. The best thing you can be is there for them listening even when no words are being spoken and hopefully saying the right things. 

I thought I would still nominate people to do this as even though the week is over, May is Mental Health Awareness month. Even outside of this month the word needs to be spread so keep it going! I won’t directly nominate 2 people as I don’t know who would be comfortable taking part so I nominate: 

  • you! You know who you are. If you are reading this post and would like to help spread the word, do it! You don’t have to write about an experience if you don’t want to, I just thought it could help.

Remember that your mental health does not define who you are, you do! It takes a huge part of you but is overshadowed by the deep strength within you that will guide you through it with the help of others! You are not and you never will be alone! 👊

If you would like to chat about any of the issues raised above I would definitely say contact the aforementioned support groups first but I am always here too, through my Contact Page, my Twitter account (link also at the bottom of my blog page) or even just a good ole comment below! 

Thank you for reading! 😉💗 Have a lovely day! 

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