This is my second post in the What was that? – my series on ‘what the crap is going on?’
Before I thought of blogging these random happenings in one post, I hadn’t realised how messy and chaotic my life often feels.
How did I manage this crap all along? I’m sure we all do, and definitely not to invalidate anyone else’s goings on, but it does get a bit complicated to manage when one lives with a mix of mental health conditions and chronic illness like fibromyalgia.
Hello anxiety, could you leave me alone?
I take medication for anxiety. Before my late twenties I can’t remember it being this bad. Then my depression spiralled out of control and just before I’d tried to end my life, I started experiencing crippling anxiety. By the time I was out of hospital, every night I had to hang over the edge of my bed just to try to gasp some air in. My meds were briefly changed to manage the increased number of attacks I was having every night then I was put on the meds I am now. It’s been a few years since I had it this bad. Then three nights ago I got palpitations so strong I thought my heart would beat out of my chest. Before you say it, I don’t meditate, I know I need to prioritise getting the hang of that but I do practise mindfulness everyday. It helps but not when the anxiety gets bad.
If you don’t know, complex post traumatic stress disorder (C-PTSD) is like PTSD but in people who’ve had repeated traumas. I’ll write more about this another time. It was a relief when I got the diagnosis, only because I finally had confirmation that I was not going out of my bloody mind. Since my stepfather was murdered I’ve dreamt him regularly but that quieted down and I was happy for it. Then last week he was there in my dreams again. Nothing unpleasant, but still… I wake up upset. Then later this week I also got a very unwelcomed auditory hallucination that never ceases to shake me. Piss off C-PTSD.
How we think about mental health problems
This week I found myself in the middle of some interesting conversations around mental health on LinkedIn. A trauma therapist was discussion some very salient issues that we don’t seem to talk about, which I hope to discuss at length later. One of the things this lady said was since the start of campaigns here in the UK to de-stigmatise mental health problems, she feels it oft takes away from the depth/seriousness of the experiences being had by people who live with chronic mental health problems. She feels this is happening because we’ve tried to normalise these diagnoses, and they are common. So we sometimes act like ‘yeah depression, anxiety, I had that.’ Not taking away from that but she was saying sometimes this doesn’t help to raise awareness of the battles people with chronic depression face. Not an easy thing to talk about but it’s true. I can’t tell you the number of times it’s been suggested that a yoga retreat or something might cure my depression. Or that I was simply thinking negative or imagining what’s happened and happening to me. And I’m not having a go for the people, who yoga retreats etc worked for. I’m just saying everyone’s different. Some people develop situational depression after a situation, say bereavement, when their grief morphs into that and get better with time or help. And I’m happy for that. Not saying what they experienced wasn’t the real thing or as bad or anything of the sort. I, like many others, have lived with depression all my life. I know an 80 something year old who has had it her whole life. I’ve been taking antidepressants since I was 16. And it doesn’t mean I have a dark cloud following me or that I can’t smile or have happy moments, or that I’m just a negative person. It just means I’m engaged in a daily internal war to live my life the way I want to. I constantly struggle with low mood and suicidal thoughts but I do all in my power to help myself – take meds, be mindful, try to do things that make my life meaningful, look to my faith etc etc. And when people act in a way that suggests we’re not trying hard enough, on the basis that other people with depression recover, it is really harmful. The important thing I want people to come away with, is to understand that mental health problems happen in varying degrees for everyone. Recovery happens differently for everyone too. For one person it might mean they never see depression again in their lifetime, for another, it might mean they’ve learnt to manage their symptoms better. However we experience mental health problems we should try to understand what the journey is for the other, empathise and support.
I thought not to make these posts too depressing I’d limit my angry fuming, and toss in a happy bit for good measure. Jess stays over when we have a night out, and she had on the most gorgeous hoodie I’ve ever set my eyes on.
Me:”OMG Jess, I love your hoodie” (me staring at it)
“Actually, I have one just like it! great taste!”
(Jess giggling) “Um, Alisha, this is your hoodie”
She’s still laughing about that 🙂
Hope you’re having a great week.
Gentle hugs 🙂 x