The good, the bad and the ugly..

When you live with a mental illness or two, you find that things ebb and flow. Like the pull of the moon on the ocean. 

 Certain things can lift your mood right up and other things drag it so far down. Many people struggle most with the latter. No one really likes a low mood, whether you’re ‘

depressed’ or not, but some people actually struggle with the lighter side of things.

 You see, having depression does funny things to your brain, you begin to think that you shouldn’t ever be feeling happy if you have depression. When you’re coming out of a low slump and feel that little burst of ‘today isn’t that bad’ it can make you feel like a fraud.

Like your diagnosis, ‘your label’ is the be all and end all of your existence and that you should always fit into that stereotype. 

When people say things like ‘you don’t look depressed’ it could be fatal. That person may already be at the end of their tether. Using all the spare energy they can muster to put on a brave face and go out that day and you’ve just crushed everything with 4 little words. 

If you know someone with depression, or someone opens up about their mental illness, try to think before you make a flippant remark. Try ‘how are you doing?’ Or ‘do you need anything?’ 

Those 4 words can make a difference for the better – this gives you one person that cares. One person that is there for you that day and sometimes that is all it takes to change the mindset of a person. 

Please be nice to people, you don’t know what is going on under the surface, behind that bubbly smile. 
Suicide and suicidal thoughts are very real problems that are not as outwardly shown as other things. The death of person simply because they have a chemical imbalance that tells them death is the better option than tirelessly fighting a losing battle. I don’t think we will ever completely eradicate suicide, but we can certainly make huge progress towards making it less common. 
Right now, I’m doing moderately okay. I’m not jumping for joy but I’m also not planning the route the bridge. 

Oh it’s just a cry for help..

When you think someone is sending out a cry for help, it would be a good idea to ask them so. 

Nothing is ever just a cry for help. 

A cry for help is a desperate last measure in most cases, it means that person is potentially facing crisis and needs someone or something to help them, to validate that it’s okay to not feel okay and that they are worthy of being alive. 

So many people dismiss mental illness in this day and age and it could literally be the difference between life and death for some people. 
If you think someone may be in crisis, ask them or tell someone close to them who may be able to help. 

Be a nice human, you may just save someone’s life. 

Loneliness and the importance of human connections.

Having a mental illness can be very lonely, although you know you’re not the only person to suffer, it often feels like you are the only one feeling a certain way. Likelihood is, everyone has felt lonely and isolated at some point in their lives, with or without mental illness. It’s something that we all experience, but with mental illness the frequency is higher and the effects stronger.

I totally understand the need to lock ourselves away when we are in the depths of a depression and I am totally guilty of just shutting the whole world out. I also know that I need human connection to pull me back into focus. I probably wouldn’t be here if I didn’t have the interactions I have with other people. It doesn’t even need to be face to face, all interactions are just as important when you’re struggling. In all honesty, with my anxieties and such, face to face isn’t my ideal scenario. I depend on my online and text connections more often than I do meeting up with an actual person.

It’s so important to establish a network of people who you know you can turn to when you just need someone. I’m not talking about someone to purely offload about how you’re feeling. I mean people you know are there if you just need a good laugh, cry, conversation about the moon or to connect with over some other random topics that just take your mind away from the darkness for a short while. One person that you can just send ‘hey, I could really do with…[insert need]’ and know that they’ll be there for you is all it takes. I am very fortunate that I have a few wonderful humans in my life that mean the world to me and I can always rely on if I need it. These people are lifelines to me, whether they think so or not. I am lucky, and I know many people don’t have that luxury to help them through the darker days and trying times.

If you feel like you really don’t have anyone like that – reach out. I am happy to be at the end of a message if you just need to offload, or talk to someone.

There are also lots of great organisations that could help. I’ve popped a list below. You are never alone and there is always, always, someone to talk to. You’re never wasting people’s time and you are not a burden.

www.samaritans.org
www.mind.org.uk
www.anxietyuk.org.uk
www.together-uk.org
www.mentalhealth.org.uk
www.rethink.org

For under 25’s
https://youngminds.org.uk <this is also great for parents of younger people.
www.themix.org.uk
www.childline.org.uk

For those in later life
http://www.ageuk.org.uk/

For students
www.nightline.ac.uk

For pregnant women and new mothers.
www.tommys.org
https://www.bestbeginnings.org.uk/

For men
www.thecalmzone.net

For service personnel and veterans.
www.helpforheroes.org.uk
www.combatstress.org.uk
Overseas – I don’t really have much knowledge in this area, being from the UK, but I have found a few links that may help you.

USA – https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/
https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/
Australia – https://mhaustralia.org/need-help
Canada – http://www.cmha.ca/mental-health/find-help/
New Zealand – https://www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help
South Africa – http://www.safmh.org.za/index.php/get-help

A huge list of resources for many places in the world.
http://togetherweare-strong.tumblr.com/helpline

 

Mental Illness & Jealousy.

It’s a very real thing to feel jealous of other people. Most of us envy someone for something at some time in our lives. This is pretty normal, human behaviour.

We often make ourselves feel awful because other people seemingly have it better than we do. A bigger house, a nicer car. Children, pets, other wonderful things that we long for but cannot or do not have. The person you envy, may envy you for something in your life you have that they don’t. It’s all very relative. Don’t beat yourself up for feeling envious or jealous of people for things you wish you had, but don’t dwell on them either.

I’d quite like to just be able to say ‘yes’ to any invite, to be able to just go to town and shop or go out for dinner or to the cinema, but my anxiety makes it hard for me to achieve that. Yes, it frustrates me and I do sometimes feel jealous of people who can live spontaneously, like I used to before this mental illness took hold. I also feel grateful for being able to spend time at home, eating with my family and curling up in my bed to watch a movie with my pupdog. I can shop online if I need to and to be honest, I prefer that anyway.

There are people who have worked hard for things in their lives and people who you may think haven’t done so. Unless you know the person very well, you don’t have a clue what their adversities are, what their emotional well being is and whether or not they are truly as happy as they seem. We are all guilty of bending the truth now and then to make things in our lives seem better than they may actually be. Telling people you are okay, when really you’re everything but. So just take things with a pinch of salt. Everything is not what it seems and you may be surprised.

There are many things in my life that I wish were different but the biggest one is finding the old me again. I wish I could go on girls nights again, I wish I could have those friends back again, that I can just go and enjoy life – really enjoy it to it’s fullest. Go on holiday. Go and do a weekly food shop. Apply for any job and not have to worry about going there. Normal everyday things become a massive chore. Anxiety is hard to live with. People don’t understand it and often give ‘advice’ that is about as useful as a chocolate teapot. I can’t just ‘think positive’ and ‘not worry’ that isn’t how this works.

I have noticed that I  find myself less jealous, the longer I live with my mental illnesses but every now and then, it creeps in and makes me feel like shit. I hate that I feel jealous in the first place which then makes me feel even shittier about the circumstances that made me feel the jealousy. It’s a huge, shitty vicious circle of negativity. I can be hard to drag yourself out of that tornado of shite but remember the storm will end eventually. The calm will swing by and you after spend a while cleaning up the mess it created, you can live to the best of your ability again. Enjoy the calm after the storm and try and prepare for the inevitable next one.

Life is hard. Life with mental illness is harder. Additional hurdles and obstacles are always in your way. Don’t beat yourself up for how you feel, life is a tough ride and you are doing great.

The importance of quiet. 

Life with depression can have an almost deafening silence or a ridiculous amount of noise to it. Everything can quickly get too much and out of control. It’s important to make time for you, to be ‘quiet’.

To sit and read or listen to music, have a bath watch a film, whatever it may be – make time to do that for yourself. Something that relaxes you a little but keeps you engaged enough that you’re not asleep. It’s good for your brain to have that little time focused on something that isn’t taxing.

Oh but you don’t look depressed…

Blimey! I must be cured then. Thank you for that incredible remedy, you really should bottle that up.

I am stressed, my anxieties are through the roof lately and my black dog is back for a visit. Crushing me with the cuddle I don’t want. Life is a little bit shitty right now, and it isn’t made any easier by people saying all those unhelpful things, like my mental illness isn’t justified because I am not moping around crying. Incidentally, I am, just not in public and not all the time.

I don’t understand where the idea that depression has a ‘look’ came from. I can’t make out what I am supposed to look like. What the hell does depression look like?

It looks like ME, you, the guy down the road and your best friends uncle. Your sisters boss or the lady working the checkout at the local Tesco. Depression doesn’t have a look.

We don’t walk around with a big shiny arrow pointing at our heads. We do laugh. We have been known to smile – even daily. We go outside, we go to work, we eat, drink, shower and do all those normal things. Most of the time. We function, we fit in and we live.

Depression is an invisible illness, you can’t look depressed. Having a sad face or teary eyes doesn’t mean depression. That person is quite possibly just feeling sad. Depression is so much more than feeling a bit sad, looking a bit down and moping about.

I feel my depression like the ocean, sometimes I am just paddling in the surf enjoying my life with my emotions swirling happily around my toes. When the tide comes in it goes one of two ways. I take a few steps back and re-evaluate the situation, keeping that little pool at bay. Other times I am stuck. Glued to the spot, helpless. The emotions, the emptiness, the anxiety, the feeling lost, incomplete, lonely, sad, overwhelmed and pretty much completely hopeless crash around me. The tears stream and pool in the water. The water that feels as though it’s rising too quickly. The ocean swells, the waves get stronger, the water heavier, tugging and thrashing around me. And then it hits me. That final big crushing wave and all of a sudden I am drowning. Invisible, struggling and fighting with all my might under the heaving flow of water that engulfs me.

 

but I don’t look depressed…

 

How are you?

This quickly becomes one of your least favourite questions when you suffer from mental illness. The majority of people who ask this, generally mean in it in a pleasantry kind of way. Not in a literal, spill all your internal feelings kind of way.

I have got to the point now where I generally answer ‘Tired’ or ‘Getting There’ because I am not okay most of the time and the constant need to be positive is more detrimental than not.

When suffering from mental illness you tend to address things differently, you see things in new light. When I ask someone how they are – I am genuinely interested in how they are, regardless if that happens to be ‘My world is crumbling down and I don’t know what to do’ or if they’re happy as a pig in shit, having the best day of their lives.

I like to listen, I always have done. I’ve spent many years feeling like I am not heard, like nobody wants to listen that I always make it my goal to be the ears that do. To be the eyes that read that message and the shoulder to hold all those tears. I know what it feels like to not have it, so I have to do all I can to give it. Some days it’s harder to do that than others, but I still do my best.

Lots of people think depression means weak, scared, overburdened and many more of those awful negative things, and it is in its own way. However, we are still humans, still capable of that connection and are still loyal to our friendships. We may feel like the universe is going to suck the life out of everything we do like a Dementor, but we still have the ability to listen and communicate – for the most part. We still want to hear how you are doing, what life has in store for you. We can still celebrate in your happiness and grieve with you in your sadness.

Compassion doesn’t fade because the black dog came for tea. I feel like people are too scared to talk their problems with me any more, because it might be too much for me to handle. Most people would never guess I have anxiety or depression, I should win an Oscar for my ability to play the ‘everything is great girl’ to the general population.

Don’t feel like you are going to drown us by sharing your woes, you won’t.

‘How are you?’

Tired.