So by the title you have probably guessed this will be a bit of a personal post and I will probably debate whether to publish it for at least 24 hours after I’ve written it, but here it goes.
Today is World Mental Health Day. In my opinion mental health has two extremes when it comes to being spoken about or how it’s portrayed in the media. It is either a very taboo subject where people feel they shouldn’t speak about it or just don’t know enough to comment on it or have a conversation about it. Or alternatively don’t ‘believe’ it’s a real thing..? On the other hand it can become the complete opposite where mental health words terms are used in a sort of fashion? Yeah I know, weird. And people use words such a depressed as an emotion rather than a health diagnosis.
MH is something I feel passionate about, especially about it being spoken about properly. It is something I’ve dealt with for years but it has been under a year since I was officially diagnosed. And here is a clip of my journey so far.
When I first found the courage and fought against my anxiety to walk in to the doctor’s surgery to talk about all this stuff going on in my head, not knowing if it was normal, if I was normal, I was shot down. Without sugar coating it, the doctors were shit. S h i t.
I remember nearly running out of the doctors feeling so embarrassed that I’d gone, feeling like I’d wasted everyone’s time because after actually saying what was going on out loud I was faced with things like ‘you probably just need more sleep; cut down on caffeine; exercise more..’ all of those things may have been true factors in to making my day to day life more liveable however this did NOT give me any answers and made me feel so stupid, which has probably happened to quite a few people. A word of advice, do not give up.
Unfortunately what it took for me to be taken seriously and to begin the help that I needed was in March when I had a breakdown. It was the day after Mother’s Day and had been the first Mother’s Day without my wonderful Nan so this of course triggered a lot for me. I was unable to do pretty much anything that next morning except cry and sit on the floor (a bit like Golem when he loses the ring). This was when the doctors proved me wrong, after cursing them all after my initial appointment, I was in the doctors surgery within 45 minutes and had someone actually listen to me intently and didn’t make me feel like everything I said was an elaborate lie. This is when I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and my first medication journey started on Sertraline. Medication is something I had always said I would never turn to, however this was the same person who thought she could conquer the world and deal with everything quietly by herself.
This is where the first rollercoaster began, I didn’t know what to expect. I was signed off from work for 2 weeks so that my body would get used to the tablets. I think within 6 weeks my tablet dosage increased 3 times, however I was starting to feel ‘normal’ again. The word normal used very loosely. I felt happy, but it was a kind of synthetic happy? I was like a ball of numbness with a smile because I just couldn’t physically cry. But when you’ve gone from crying every day this was actually a nice feeling. I also tried bereavement counselling which was just not for me but that’s a different story.
Then the nightmares started. About 8 weeks in to my Sertraline journey I began experiencing the most horrific dreams. When I say dreams these were scenarios happening in my head and I’d wake up not knowing if they had happened or not. The sort of things that not even James Wan could think up. The sort of things that stopped me walking down my road on my own for a solid 3 weeks. It got to a point when I thought enough was enough and I felt ‘happy’ enough to no longer be on tablets, so I took myself off. 3 days later this proved to not be the greatest idea as I was back in the doctor’s surgery and back to square one. This is where my Citalopram journey began.
So far, I have been on Citalopram for about 10 weeks and they seem to be what’s right for me. I no longer feel the numbness I felt before and my happiness feels real. I feel like Rhiannan again. I visited a day hospital who explained in more detail about what is happening in my head and that I actually have a type of personality disorder which explains a lot of what and why things happen. It makes things a lot easier to deal with when you’ve been told what is happening and the triggers as to why they do. It means you can adapt to certain things in life and know how to help yourself come out of this scary place called your thoughts.
I still struggle and have my bad MH days. However, within the past year I can now talk on the phone without just staring at the caller ID and worrying about the awkward silences that may happen if I answer. I can walk up to the counter in a shop and pay for my items without running through how much it will cost by the penny and making sure a thousand times that I have enough so I’m not caught in an embarrassing situation where everyone will think I’m moneyless.
I now make time to do things for myself. I read, draw, write my blog, watch ALL the Harry Potters over and over; basically the things that I love to do and what genuinely make me happy. No matter how small the thing is that makes you happy, make sure you do it.
What I have learnt is things won’t get better unless you try. If you are shot down to start with, even by a professional, don’t give up the fight because Mental Health is a real thing and needs to be taken more seriously.
My next journey is trying CBT.