Photo by Max van den Oetelaar on Unsplash
Trigger warning: discussion of mental health issues
Yesterday was World Mental Health Day, and with that I saw a lot of people both on my personal and blog Instagram accounts sharing their experience and struggles with mental health.
This not only warmed my heart, but inspired me to follow in suit, hence what we’re doing right here.
Before right now, I haven’t published anything really regarding my mental health. Not that I haven’t wanted to, but every time I wrote anything I felt kind of uncomfortable about putting it out into the world, so they sit in my drafts collecting dust.
I think my negative experiences in expressing my mental health concerns to people close to me (not that they have been 100% negative, but there have been more of those than positive, that’s for sure) has made me feel like anything is an overshare.
Which is a weird feeling, because as far as pretty much anything else goes in my life I’m oversharing most of the time.
But, seeing other people talk about their mental health has always helped me, so I think it’s time I start sharing what I feel comfortable, in the hope it might help someone else.
So, jumping right in, I suffer from depression and anxiety.
These aren’t new factors in my life, but they have moved over the last 3-4 years from being quite episodic to being a fairly constant thing in my life.
At the start of last year I ended up with costochondritis, which is inflammation of the cartilage that makes up your rib cage, from having successive panic attacks.
While I didn’t acknowledge it at the time, I continued to suffer from panic attacks, which I was labelling as ‘chest pains’ and they terrified me.
I also found myself in one of the darkest points of my life, I could hardly leave my bed and avoided pretty much everyone in my life, but I couldn’t understand why I felt so awful about myself and life.
My anxiety started keeping me awake at night to the point where I was hardly sleeping and then falling asleep in the afternoon because I was so exhausted.
That’s when I decided I needed to seek help.
I went to my doctor and as soon as he asked me what was going on I burst into tears in front of him and the med student in the room.
Initially I was prescribed a medication designed to make me drowsy to take before bed, but when that didn’t work I was started on an anti-depressant.
It’s important to note that this wasn’t a rushed process by any means, my doctor started me on a 1/2 dose to ease the side effects common as your body adjusts to an anti-depressant, and I had a visit every week for an extended period of time as I moved to a single dose.
These visits made me feel so secure in my choice to take medication. My doctor checked in on how I was feeling constantly, seeing if it needed to be changed and getting a new script every 1-2 weeks.
I can’t explain to you how grateful I am that I started taking my medication.
It’s not like I no longer experience anxiety, but I can count the panic attacks I’ve had since starting on one hand.
My depression still makes itself known, but so much more of the time I’m fine and the dark places don’t seem to hold me so tightly.
I still have days where I can’t get out of bed, but they don’t tend to span to weeks and I can recognise my warning signs.
This has probably been the best part for me because when I’m in a bad place I find it really difficult to ask for help, so being able to recognise the direction I’m heading in not only allows me to be proactive and try to change that, but also helps me to be honest to myself and others about how I’m feeling.
I’m very much blessed to have the friends that I have, who understand me, check in on me and aren’t scared off by the parts of me that aren’t all sunshiney and wonderful.
I’m also really lucky to have found a doctor who listens to me and has helped me so much, and a family who support me and try to understand the best they can without seeing it all of the time.
If you’re going through anything, please try and talk to someone, whether that is a friend, family member or medical professional.
But coming from someone who isn’t so great at talking about whats really going on, I’ve found that even just writing it out can help (and if that’s not your thing I’ve found that pets can be great listeners).
Also, my dms on all of my social media platforms and my emails are always open, I’m not a professional but sometimes it can be easier to talk to someone you don’t have to see face to face.
And if you don’t even want a response, but just a safe space to get something off your chest, feel free to use my dms for that too, just let me know if you don’t want to respond.
Whatever you’re going through just remember to breathe and that you are worth more than you can imagine.
And you’re not alone.
Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.