This is so hard and difficult to write because what has happened is still so fresh, but I need to share how I’m feeling and hopefully work on a bit of prevention with my beautiful friend.
So we all have times where we’re not ourselves, and if you suffer from mental health issues then you’ll know what I mean when I say sometimes it’s okay not to be ok. It has come out in recent news that Demi Lovato was hospitalized due to a relapse in her mental health, and it truly baffles me as to why people felt it was okay to criticize her for this? Mental health isn’t something you can take a tablet to fix it takes years, sometimes lifetimes to be in a good place…and that’s okay because everyone copes in different ways.
I have had my fair share of experiences with mental illness; Anxiety, depression, paranoia, post-partum psychosis and BPD to name a few. My experiences are completely different from those of my friends and family members that have experienced these conditions, so to people who don’t have any experience with poor mental health (and I mean this in the nicest way), what might have worked for your Aunt Becky’s hairdresser’s niece isn’t going to work for me. You see, this post isn’t just aimed at mums – as humans we are not expected to hold it together every minute of every day, nobody is expecting you to be perfect and that’s okay.
One thing that really grinds my gears on mental health is the stigma surrounding it. Why are people so ashamed and afraid to talk openly about how they are feeling? Having a broken mind is no different to having a broken arm – both take time and care to heal. Of course, in this day and age you still find people saying, “Oh get a grip”, “Mental health isn’t a real illness” or my personal favourite… “Stop attention seeking.” These are always the people that have had no experience of mental illness and I’m super glad life has been peachy keen for them, and I honestly hope they never do experience it.
When I think back to the time my mental health was at it’s worst, I reflect back and look at how far I’ve come. I would be lying if I said I’m completely cured… I still have a hell of a long way to go, but when I look back and remember sitting on the edge of a bridge over the M20, I tell myself it’s okay. I’m only human and some days I’m going to be a mess, some days I’m going to feel worthless but until anyone has walked in my shoes who the hell are they to judge me?
Recently, I discovered a young person quite close to me was suffering with depression and self harming, it broke my heart that they felt they couldn’t talk to anyone about it. When I asked them why they didn’t talk to anyone they replied, “people will think I’m a freak, I have seen how people at school get treated for being like this and I don’t want that,” and I was left speechless. Why do we live in a world where people, even more so young people, can’t talk about their mental well-being in fear of being bullied for it? Why do they feel they can’t discuss it openly or freely without fear of being judged?
So my darlings, don’t ever be ashamed of who you are or what you are going through, you are NEVER alone and you will get through this. You are worth so much more than you feel you are and it’s okay not to be okay.
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Olivia has just turned 2, and she’s already so receptive to other people’s emotions. She has been from a very young age. If she sees or hears a baby crying, she goes over to them and tries to comfort them in her own adorable way. She understands that certain things make mummy sad or happy, and she tells me when she is sad or when she is happy.
I honestly don’t believe we would be at this stage if she hadn’t ever seen me cry (on numerous occasions).
I want her to know that it’s okay to cry, and that she should never feel ashamed of crying. Crying doesn’t make you weak, it makes you strong. You’re releasing a lot of emotion in the only way you can, and if you didn’t release it, you’d be worse off. You would bottle it up and the upset would turn into anger. I’m okay with Olivia seeing me upset.
There are many, many times when I’m upset because of Olivia. Maybe it’s sleep deprivation or just a general feeling that I can’t cope anymore on my own with her because I’ve had a whole day of her shouting “No!” at me and throwing herself around in a tantrum on the floor. It’s those times that I think it’s most important that she sees me crying – when it gets to that point.
I don’t want my daughter to grow up thinking that there are no consequences for her actions. There are certain things she will do that will upset the people around her, and every time she sees me crying, it immediately stops her from doing whatever it was that drove me to tears in the first place, and she comes and gives me a “cug” and we both feel better afterwards.
I want Olivia to grow up to be kind and nurturing, and learning to comfort others is a huge part of that! If I had a son, I would do exactly the same with him. It’s even more crucial to help boys learn that crying is okay and that they don’t have to bottle up their tears.
In the UK, mens’ suicide rates are 3 times higher than women’s, and a huge part of this is the notion that boys and men can’t show emotion. Suicide remains the biggest killer in men aged 20-49, and yet an astonishing 34% of men said that they would feel ashamed or embarrassed to take time off work for their mental health, compared to 13% feeling embarrassed for time off for a physical injury (https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/key-data-mental-health).
Mental illness is seen as a weakness, more so amongst men than women. I would never, ever want my children to grow up seeing these indiscriminate and often debilitating illnesses as things that make them weak. Facing their illness head on, confronting their fears, and learning how to properly cope with emotions is the best strength that our children can learn from us parents who have unfortunately been there and well and truly got the damn t-shirt!
My daughter will learn to show and cope with her emotions and to be supported, and my sons (if I ever had any) would learn the same.
We all have them. Why should we hide?
“Suicide does end the chances of life getting worse. But it does eliminate the chances of it ever getting better”
It’s that time of year again. Maybe sometime, I’ll shut up about it. But all the time I know that I might be helping someone else by talking about my experiences, I’ll share them.
- In April 2011, I started to notice severe symptoms of depression within myself, after 5 years of battling with self harm.
- December 2012, I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety and given 6 months of Sertraline.
- May 15th 2013, my mental illness took over and I decided to act on my negative feelings in attempt to end everything, as a result I was hospitalised.
- A minimum of six disastrous months on several antidepressants that did nothing for me.
- March 26th 2016, I was diagnosed with PND, GAD and PTSD following a traumatic labour.
- June 2016, it was suggested that I could have BPD
- 1 year of mirtazapine and a 4 stone weight gain.
- January 29th 2018, I was diagnosed with Cyclothymic disorder (a milder, yet more chronic form of Bipolar Disorder) and Borderline Personality Disorder.
To me May 15th 2013 was like a semi colon (;) , representing where my story could have ended, but instead continued.
Five years on is such a bitter sweet feeling. Not only am I proud, when I think about how far I’ve come. But I am pained when I think that it’s taken me 5 years to get close to the help that I need and deserve.
The contrast between wanting to die and not being able to – with wanting to be alive and almost dying numerous times due to things that are out of your control is terrifying. It really reiterates how quickly your life can go full circle in such a short space of time.
I remember, sitting there in hospital wishing that I’d have died. Wishing so much that I could have just let go. I was convinced that I’d never get better. That I’d never feel better. That I’d never get a correct diagnosis. That i’d never get the help that I needed. I was in the bottom of a pit. There wasn’t a way out.
I have received my correct diagnosis and had many other mental health struggles since my most serious suicide attempt. I’d go as far to say that life since has been harder than I ever imagined. My pain hadn’t peaked on that night, I didn’t realise the depths of despair I’d get to – but my resilience and strength has just kept growing. Of course my mental health relapses due to the cyclical nature of my diagnoses. But, even when I feel like the worst person in the world with nowhere to go- I look at my baby and know that I at least got something right. Her smiles brighten my day and her laugh brings tears of joy to my eyes. Most days, just getting out of bed hurts and exhausts me so much I can barely carry on. but I constantly WORK so HARD to just keep going.
Anyone can go through a mental health issues or illnesses, it’s a hell of an ordeal. Recovery can be lifelong. Most days are a challenge, but there’s always days worth fighting for. This is anything but a cry out for attention, I just want anyone going through the same to know they’re not alone. Your experiences make you, who you are. You owe it to yourself to live for another day and give yourself another chance.
“Keep strong little fighter, soon it’ll be brighter.”