My Mental Health: An Update
Over the last few months I've been posting online about all sorts of upbeat things and happy adventures, but now it has got to the point where I need to put down the mask and be real for a bit. Since sharing my previous post about my mental health, I have started attending cognitive behavioural therapy sessions again. I have received a new diagnosis and feel very differently towards the relationship I have with my mental health too.
Back at the beginning of April I was told some home truths - I needed the honesty and I am grateful for it. It sounds cliché, but it was a wake up call; suddenly it became glaringly obvious that something had gone wrong and that I really wasn't okay. I took everything that was said and thought it over again and again. It dawned on me just how much I had become the opposite of who I wanted to be and who I feel I am. Being faced with this flicked a switch - I couldn't ignore what I had been told and continue on the way I had been, so I started attempting to make changes the next day and contacted my local mental health services a day later.
Through meeting with a therapist, I have been diagnosed with suffering from depression and, through tracing back symptoms, have been on and off for years. At the end of 2015 I met with a doctor to discuss concerns that I was struggling, and was prescribed a low dosage of antidepressants. As the doctor didn't seem overly worried, noting that I was in the lull period after finishing university, and because I personally don't feel comfortable with taking tablets for MH illnesses (particularly after reading the long list of side effects they came with) I was dissuaded from taking them. At the time it didn't feel like so much of a big deal to stow the tablets away at the back of a drawer in my room, but now it feels like that point was the calm before the storm. Regardless of concerns I may be struggling, back then I didn't really think I could be experiencing something like depression. If I'm honest, I didn't truly understand what it was. As time has gone on and things have got progressively worse, now I've seen the correlation between what I have been experiencing and the
, it's quite scary how undeniable it is that this is what I'm going through. In many ways it's a bittersweet relief. It breaks me to know that I couldn't see this myself, and therefore didn't start taking action sooner to avoid the damage I caused, yet I'm thankful to have a concrete explanation as to why I haven't been myself and to know what's going on, in order to take the right steps to get better.
In the post where I wrote about my mental health previously, I spoke about it from the perspective where I believed I had handle on it. In actuality I had let myself become a prisoner to what was going on in my head. I had accepted I had anxiety, but instead of taking it into account and tackling it, I absentmindedly allowed it, as well as the depression, to dictate how I lived and thought. I wasn't separating these issues from myself despite wholeheartedly believing I was. Instead I saw them as a part of who I was; a part of me that was here to stay and that I would just have to put up with forever. Now I don't think or want to think of these illnesses like that, and instead am seeing them for what they are:
. Illnesses that I can get better from. I'm not my anxiety, nor am I my depression. They aren't what make me,
Everyday I am working on putting myself back together; refocusing on completing daily tasks, reigniting interests, getting out and doing more, all whilst attempting to stay positive. I wont lie - I'm struggling and often feel all over the place, but despite this and above all else, I am trying. I am trying hard to just be okay. I keep reminding myself that this will take time and that I need to let it take time, because I can find comfort in knowing that I'm heading in the right direction.
One of the biggest things I've been actively working on since receiving the new diagnosis is communication. I have appreciated the importance of talking to a professional for a long time, but the fear of what family, friends, colleagues, peers or even acquaintances may say about me, how they will think of me or treat me, has kept me silent for the most part. Only feeling comfortable to show the worst of it to a couple of people, and unloading onto them was incredibly unfair of me. Explaining to my parents, reaching out to old friends, informing work and putting it all out on the table has been daunting. I've felt scared and vulnerable, but the idea that life is far too short to spend a majority of it fighting with myself, and seeing talking as a vital step in recovery has given me a reason to keep at it.
And whilst everyone I have told has been so supportive, through opening up I've connected with a handful of amazing people who know exactly what I'm going through - which has been endlessly reassuring and helpful.
It's also why I'm typing this all out right now - because it's important to talk about it, especially when it impacts so much of my life. I'm determined to continue finding ways to be happy, to avoid falling further and push myself from this, so expect further postings of a similar nature to those before this one, and even some positive mental health posts too.
I won't let it win!
Need someone to talk to?