I haven’t decided what this post is going to be called. Hell, I don’t even know what it’s going to be about yet. Something about mental health in some way, because the truth is, I’m struggling.
My head is in a spin. Nothing makes sense. I’ve got thoughts and conversations and so much crap going around in it I don’t even know what I’m thinking anymore.
I’ve been struggling with ups and downs of mental health, battling anxiety and depression for years. Probably many more years than I ever admitted and certainly more years than I ever sought help in. Want to know some of my past and the issues I’ve had to deal with? Here you go, you can find out about domestic abuse, escaping coercive control and being broken down right here.
I’ve been struggling with my own mental health.
Contrary to popular belief, people do continue to do things when they are struggling with their mental health. Despite feeling as though there is nothing to live for, they continue to live. The motions are gone through.
Wake up, drink coffee, shower, dress, go to work, go to the gym, smile at people, repeat the phrase, ‘I’m fine! How are you?’ several times throughout the day, go home, go to bed, feel broken, try to sleep and get ready to repeat it all the next day.
Work pressure, home pressure, personal pressure…. pressure, pressure, pressure…
It’s the little things that push your mental health over the edge
I’m not sure what it was that tipped me over.
Perhaps that work asked me to re-write a whole document that I had worked over a week on already and they admitted to not even reading what I’d put together but still wanted it all re-done. Or that I report back the progress on the work I’ve been doing for them for them to respond that, well, they don’t understand it anyway (so I wonder what the point of me being there even is, and is that how they feel about me too?), but can I copy and paste a new review on Google that they’ve just seen and email it to them (because apparently, it takes less time to walk across the office to ask me to do that for them than it does for them to copy and paste the review themselves).
Perhaps it is the fact that I have yet another ‘final’ court case against Thunderc*nt, a.k.a. the ex-husband for my share of the family home that I was driven from, that apparently he claims 100% of.
Or it might have been that somebody stole my fucking wheelie bin and now I have to pay £25 to replace it. I only bought a new one six months ago when the last was stolen. Stop stealing my fucking wheelie bins. PLEASE!
At my friend Laura’s strong recommendation I booked an appointment to see my GP at long last. Everyone needs a friend like Laura. She makes me laugh. I’ll tell you about her another time. You’ll love her.
It took over an hour of being on hold, of going from number 17 in the queuing system to number 19 (how does that even happen?), before making my way slowly to the much-coveted number one spot and hoping the automated system didn’t cut me off just as I approached it.
I made it to the front of the queue and through to the gatekeeper receptionist. I don’t quite know what it is about GP receptionists but they all seem very scary. I envisage them as a cross between a shaven-headed, facially tattooed nightclub bouncer (‘If your name’s not on the list you’re not coming in,’) and the darkly cloaked, scythe-sharpening Grim Reaper (‘You may finally enter, my lovely, but only once you’ve divulged your deepest, darkest symptoms to me….’).
I’m not sure quite how I bypassed the Grim Reaper bouncer (who I am positive is a lovely person really) at the desk but I know there was much snot running down my face involved as I tried my best to be coherent down the telephone line. I don’t believe I was at all coherent and perhaps that was precisely the reason I managed to get my appointment. Who knows?
I sat in my car 20 minutes before my allotted time. My anxiety already fixed like a ball somewhere between my throat and heart chakra was making it hard for me to breathe easily. What will I tell the doc? Oh god, I hope I don’t cry! He’ll think I’m a wally. You’ve got this *gulp*. Just explain you feel a bit low *sob*. You’re not feeling so great with your mental health and just need a… *sniff*…. You’ll be fine….*stop the tears, STOP THE TEARS!…*
I bawled before I even made my way from the waiting room to his office. Bawling is all I’ve been doing lately. Or having ‘a melt down almost every day last week’ as my boss pointed out.
And so we went through the mental health checklist questions.
Do I drink? No, I quit almost a year ago.
Do I eat well? I did, but not been able to keep anything down or in lately.
Do I manage to get out? Go to work? Look after myself? I do everything I’m supposed to do! I go to the gym! I work out! I started salsa classes! I go to work BUT I AM STRUGGLING EVEN WITH THAT AND I’M SCARED I’M GOING TO LOSE MY JOB TOO!
How can I be doing everything I’m ‘supposed’ to be doing and still feel so shit AND NOBODY HAS A CLUE UNTIL I’M HAVING A ‘MELT DOWN ALMOST EVERY DAY’ (thanks, Boss), AND AM MADE TO FEEL LIKE A TOTAL TWONKNIPPLE FOR IT?
‘I think salsa is an excellent way to get through this,’ Dr. B reassured me. ‘But I’m going to sign you off work for two weeks because I really don’t think you’re well enough for it right now.’
But if I go to salsa or the gym or do nice things for myself how can I justify being off sick? Because I’m acting like I’m not sick. So I can’t actually be sick so why the sick note for work for two weeks? Work will never accept that I was signed off sick if I’m salsa-ing and gym-ing and doing nice things-ing because I’M SUPPOSED TO BE SIGNED OFF SICK WITH DEPRESSION AND ANXIETY BUT HOW CAN I BE DEPRESSED AND ANXIOUS IF I’M STILL DOING STUFF?
I’m so confused.
What am I supposed to do now?
Cry into my pillow from morning til night and then through the night because I can’t sleep anyway because I have a sick note from Dr B that allows me to?
Or do I try to help myself and make myself better by doing nice things that I enjoy and that make me happy? But then how do I justify the two? How can I claim to be finding things so hard and yet still be doing the stuff to try to get myself through it?
BECAUSE IF I DON’T TRY TO GET THROUGH IT I WILL JUST GIVE UP.
But, but, but….
And that’s the thing.
People do struggle with mental health issues and they try to live as though they’re not struggling.
People do what they’re supposed to do, whatever they feel that is. Like go shopping, or go to work or meet friends and family and say things like, ‘I’m fine’ when they’re not because they’re supposed to.
They’re supposed to be fine.
And if they’re not fine, they’re supposed to pretend they are because, speaking for me personally, I am afraid of admitting I’m not fine in case I lose my job and then that backfired because I wasn’t fine and I ended up having a ‘melt down almost every day’. (Can you tell this has really, really got to me and not reassured me or supported me at all?).
They push on and push on and push on and then they break and bosses or colleagues or ‘friends’ or whoever pass judgement because someone broke with their melt downs and weren’t able to ball everything up like a spiky, painful little cannonball deep in their body any longer.
Anyway, as I usually do, I was concerned about sharing this all with you because I’m ‘supposed’ to help you.
I’m ‘supposed’ to have the answers.
I’m ‘supposed’ to be the helper, not the helped.
Fuck the ‘supposed to’. This is the reality. Right now, I’m struggling, and perhaps that is the way that will help you.
Perhaps someone out there needs the reassurance that they’re not alone.
Perhaps someone is going to feel better knowing that even the helpers need to be helped sometimes, and they can empathise with what they’re going through, not because they read about it or studied them, but because they actually feel those feelings too.
Perhaps it’s okay to admit I am only human and have the same struggles and thoughts and battles that everyone else does.
Perhaps we need to be open and admit that we are struggling, that we aren’t actually ‘fine.’
I left the surgery with a new prescription for the anti-depressants I took myself off because I believed I no longer needed them (how did that work out for you then, Tania?), a telephone number to contact for some counselling support, a two-week sick note for work that they’re always cynical about anyway, and the advice to do something nice for myself, something that makes me happy, every day.
So that’s what I’m supposed to do right now.
And if anyone out there is feeling the same with their mental health at the moment, I hear you. Here’s a HUGE HUG adorned with love hearts and glitter flying its way over to you right this second. Catch it, wrap it around you and bask in its soft, marshmallowy gooeyness. And if you want to send me a message, share your story or just want to send a hug back, please drop me a line here.
We’ve got this. Together.