Today is #TimeToTalk – the one day of the year (although it should happen every day) where people across the UK are encouraged to talk about mental health with anybody, family members, friends or a work colleague. Hell, why not strike up a conversation with a stranger, conversation is more often than not the first step towards someone experiencing mental ill-health to seek out the help they need.
I’m choosing to talk to you because:
- I love a good chat
- I’ve done it before and it helped massively with my own recovery
So here goes.
In 2014, I was diagnosed with anxiety and depression and experienced one of the most numb and miserable years of my life. I covered this in a vague way in my first post, but I think I can speak about it more candidly now. It had been a build up of many factors:
- I couldn’t get a boyfriend and that really pissed me off.
- I had experienced 3 significant bereavements over the course of 3 years
- I was concerned with my home and family life
- I was worrying myself to death about finding a job and starting a career
- I was missing my friends and the companionship I had had at university
- I was missing the companionship I had with my friends from home
While all this was going on in my head, I was trying to complete a Masters course.
When I started to get better I felt like I wanted to share my experience with other people, namely people I had as friends on Facebook on my blog. The response I had to this piece I wrote was amazing, so many messages of support from different people in my life, people I hadn’t spoken to in years and friends who had helped me during this difficult period.
I read through that post today, along with all the posts on the #TimeToTalk hashtag – and on reflection that post was being written by a person still struggling.
- I was still very concerned with what people thought about me and about the subject matter of the post
- There’s uncertainty in tone
- I wasn’t very confident in myself physically or mentally at the time – although I had got into running at this point
If there is one thing I’ve learned about mental illness since my diagnosis, it’s that there is no ‘quick-fix’ or a cure. I also realised you can’t put your happiness in the hands of other people. For a while, I was certain that I would be good as new once my romantics relationships improved – but in reality, I’m so much happier now and nothing much has changed on that front. It was more the battle with my own insecurities and confidence that was the root of the problem.
The depression that hit me like a ton of bricks in 2014 didn’t just go away once I got my job or my situation changed. The black dog is still there and it’s lingering, anticipating when to strike next.
‘I wonder when she will next feel vulnerable, lonely or upset. That’ll be a good time to show up.’
I don’t mean to sound bleak here, but I’m never going to be rid of this. It’s just a stone cold fact that I have learned to accept. When I got anxious last week resulting in a spell of insomnia, it wasn’t the anxiety ‘coming back’ – it had never really left.
But the way I deal with it has changed, and through reading other people’s stories and coping mechanisms, it doesn’t effect me anywhere near as brutally as it did in 2014. I can’t stress enough how important it is for you to talk. Even if it is to a stranger or a colleague – as a depressed person you feel alone enough in the world, reach out to people, they want to help you.
One more thing – my experience with my doctor was utterly SHIT. My doctor didn’t really care and never asked how I was doing when I went for check ups for other things which made me feel like he couldn’t give two fucks about how I was doing.
I also went on a date with a Junior Doctor a few months ago, and he charmingly told me he would rather focus on ‘really serious things like heart attacks’ than go to a mental health session his boss was suggesting he went to.
You can imagine how well that went down.
I’m not accusing the entire NHS of not caring about mental health obviously, but my personal experience signifies that there is room for improvement and that it should be made more readily available to those it cares for.
The whole fact there is a #TimeToTalk day is a huge step forward.
To those of you out there worried about a friend or a loved one, please talk to them about how they are feeling. Get them a cup of tea, pop round to visit them, give them a call or a text – whatever works best for them. You could be saving their lives.
To those of you facing your own battle with your mind, I agree, the struggle is real – but it will just get tougher to deal with if you don’t talk about it.
Thank you for reading and take care of yourself, you really do deserve it.