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. 

The little things 

Trying to find the good in life is hard when everything feels so empty and so black.

Obviously, I’m alive, clothed, housed and fed. That’s four pretty damn good things, and I am grateful. I have a little close knit bundle of wonderful friends – 3 or 4 extra specials, and my family too. Of course there is pupdog as well. I know I am very lucky, and I am not ungrateful for these things. 

It’s just hard to feel happy with your lot when you can’t feel anything but emptiness and overwhelming sadness on a daily basis. 
I’m drowning more often than I’m not lately. I’m not wading through life with little difficulty and water in my wellies. I’m being dragged around by a ferocious ocean and comtantly getting pulled under. I’m still trying to focus on the shore, on my safe haven and making my way back to a relatively normal existence on solid ground. 
I can’t get a doctors appointment to save my life (quite literally!) and it’s increasingly frustrating trying to fight a losing battle. I’m tired. I’m anxious. I’m not sleeping and I am  struggling to keep my thoughts on the little things. 

Trying to keep my little business running, to make ends meet, to meet the needs of my dog and generally cope with being an adult is harder than I hoped right now. The weather is all over the place and planning anything is practically impossible when my brain doesn’t want to play ball. 
Still. I try. I keep trying. I’m hunting for the little things. The sunshine, the butterflies, brioche and coffee, technology, a good book. My bed, my favourite hoody, somehow not many of these things bring me the joy they once did. 

Conquering Demons

I hear this so much. You need to conquer your demons. You’ll be better once you get them off your back. People say this like us mental illness sufferers haven’t heard it before. It’s about as useful as telling someone who is clinically depressed to ‘cheer up’
We know there are demons in our lives, we know that it’s ‘in our heads’ considering it’s a problem with our brains. 
We need people to offer support, not to offer solutions. Sometimes we just need to let it all out, clear a little quiet corner of our noisy, busy minds. 
Ask if there’s anything you can do, or if listening is enough. Don’t try and tell me to get more exercise, to eat better, to do this and that because you hear it works for Sally up the road. 
I’m drowning lately, my demons are gripping me by the throat and holding me underwater, the last thing I need is someone telling me that I can fix it if I just try this & that. 
I very nearly ended my life last night. The exhaustion is overwhelming. The emptiness is overwhelming. Everything is overwhelming. If it wasn’t for me being held up by a stranger who wanted to talk about my dog, I probably wouldn’t even be sitting here typing this right now.
People say they’re proud of how far I’ve come, little do they know, I’m struggling more now than ever. 

You know it’s all in your head, right!?

No shit Sherlock. Of course it is, that’s kinda the whole of mental illness. Broken brains, misfiring messages, chemical cock ups. It’s a huge mess of problems in my head. 

So what do you take for it, the anxiety?!

I take nothing, because I haven’t been seen by doctor in person, because I can’t get an appointment at my surgery and ‘going to sit up there and wait’ doesn’t work for someone with agoraphobia and severe anxiety. 

So thanks to the wonderful system of ring at 8am and good luck getting an appointment that we have, I have suffered, mostly in silence for the best part of 4 years. Three of those I rarely left my house – probably 5 or 6 times total. 

I got a dog, I forced myself to get used to my block. I pushed myself to walk the 5 minute route with the dog, and gradually increase it to go a little bit longer. I push myself to reach points further away, with limited success. I can sometimes go to the shop on my own without falling apart, but it takes time to build myself up for it and time for me to recover from it afterwards.

Oh you must not be THAT bad then if you haven’t seen a doctor. You’ve managed this long. 

I’ve SUFFERED this long. Nothing is managed about my mental health. It’s in decline, despite the progress I do make. 

It’s completely draining, it frustrates me and I hate that I am trapped in this vicious circle. I am building up to being able to walk to the doctor surgery and wait it out. Which could take me the rest of my life. I struggle my way through everything. Trying to block out the noise in my head. Often without success. I laugh often on the outside, I put on a show of normality so that people don’t know just what’s all in my head. 

Here’s hoping to see a doctor this year, before I reach that point of no return through lack of services available to the minority of us people that suffer with this crippling anxiety. It’s no surprise to me why people commit suicide, it’s crossed my messed up mind more than once. 

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