Mental Health Awareness Week

It seems quite appropriate that last week was #MentalHealthAwarenessWeek. Mental Health is a subject that as a society we still shy away from talking about it and it continues to be as big a taboo now as years ago.

Yes the Royals and all these celebs are putting their names to all the #MentalHealth charities but I personally believe that the real picture is being hidden behind the faces of the general public and that every face hides a story of differing proportions.

I will put my hands up and say that I am one of those faces. I have suffered with depression for many years and with GP support it has been well managed yet in the past few months it has escalated and now my levels of depression are higher and my anxiety levels have reached a peak.

It took me a long time to face my mental health issues head on, for so long choosing to ‘put on a smile & brave face’ and pretend that whilst fighting such an enormous internal battle, everything was ok. I’ve always had to come across as stronger than I actually am.

Through all of L’s battles I have felt that I have had to be the brave/strong one and support the emotional needs of all those involved around us.

Now whilst that may seem to be my perception of my role it isn’t necessarily the case. My husband has had to hold a job down, look after A and now be a carer to me ( despite neither of us wanting this to be the case)

Since becoming wheelchair dependant it has been harder to keep my mental health in a good shape. Whilst being deeply scared and anxious I have felt like I have to hide these overwhelming feelings and fight on for the sake of everyone else.

Since February and coming home I’ve had real issues trying to keep everything inside. I’ve had to be upbeat, positive and strong for everyone, show them that I’m not letting my condition win.

There are some major things that are making my mental health spiral into what now feels very out of control.

  • Every day I watch my youngest son be cared for and comforted by his carers, cuddling him when he is upset whilst all I can do is watch from a distance on the camera over his bed.
  • My eldest son treats me with a serious lack of respect, attitude, hurtful words – I know he is 12 and hitting that wonderful teenage era but the majority of his attitude, aggression, frustration gets aimed at me and my inability to be a proper mum. He makes me doubt my existence as a mum, the one thing I grew up aspiring to be.
  • I have carers myself now and having to rely on someone to carry out basic tasks, washing myself, cooking for the family but most of all having to give up my independance has really hit me, like a huge slap in the face.

In fact if it wasn’t for one of my carers I wouldn’t be writing this post now. No I don’t mean I would have ‘done something stupid’ – please don’t take that as me belittling the desperate measures some people take to get on top of/get rid of their emotions. At Christmas I lost a friend from my past after she took her own life after being bullied.

What I mean is that without talking to this particular person I wouldn’t have faced up to my issues and made an emergency appointment at my doctors. Them opening up to me about their own personal struggles when they saw me at a very low and vulnerable point, got me talking and because they actually understood how I felt, I was able to take the necessary steps to get the help I, now clearly, needed to take.

The duty GP was absolutely brilliant. I must have looked a pathetic mess, sat shaking in my wheelchair in their room.

Once I managed to speak I was able to tell him about my anxiety attacks before leaving the house for any reason, my inability to sleep due to crying or panicking about things out of my control like which carers were coming in/would L be well enough for school/how would I get to an appointment/why won’t people visit/i don’t want people to see me like this/ why can’t I lose weight.

All speeding through my head making me cry and shake.

Every day between care calls sat panicking and crying about things that seems so trivial and unimportant.

I know I have the most amazing family. I love each of them unconditionally but how come I feel like I just don’t belong here. I just can’t seem to shake the feeling that there isn’t a role for me anymore.

I get anxious when I have to face a stand on the rotunda ( I do this a minimum of 6x a day). I’m currently sat in the bathroom wondering why I’m sat here as i can’t remember and I’m stuck to my chair shaking stupidly and getting stressed about how I must look to my family and the various carers.

One massive thing that happened today was that I spoke to a psychologist/psychotherapist from the Steps2Wellbeing service where I live

The Steps to Wellbeing Service is a free, confidential, NHS service for to people aged 18+. We provide a service across the county of Dorset and in Southampton for people registered at either a Dorset or Southampton GP surgery. As an IAPT service we accept self-referrals by web and telephone.

We offer a range treatments for people experiencing problems with low mood/depression, anxiety, stress or other common mental health problems. Some of the problems people might access our service for include:

Depression and low mood

• Problems with anxiety (including Social Anxiety and Generalised Anxiety)

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

• Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

Specific Phobia

Panic Disorder

Stress

Even in the seemingly short 45m assessment phone call I suddenly felt that someone understood. Someone who didn’t know me, who didn’t judge me by my appearance, disability, but listened, was caring and gentle.

If my carer hadn’t have recommended contacting them I would still be in an almost complete state of confusion about how I feel and now I not only have my GP on my side but a lovely lady who gave me time to talk and is going to support me through the next stages of my treatment to getting my #MentalHealth into a much better place at a pace that suits me and in a way that allows me to slowly lose the grip of this black cloud that has hung over me for so long.

There is a long way to go and I really don’t expect it to be all sweetness and light but to know someone has my back and can help me find light in darkness, I may just start to find the lost me.

Steps 2 Wellbeing

#MENTALHEALTHHASAFACE

I AM ONE OF THOSE FACES!!

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