Sunday, 20 May 2018

Something a little personal for Mental Health Awareness Week.

With it being mental health awareness week I've been humming and harring about writing a post not really knowing what to say or how to share without sounding quite frankly pathetic and repetitive. Then I realised I shouldn't feel like I need to apologise about my mental health or the issues I have with it, yet apologising is something I constantly do, like I know a lot of people say they apologise a lot but believe me I am terrible. I swear 'I'm sorry' is my most used phrase along with 'but are you sure I'm not bugging you' both are these most definitely link back to my anxiety and the fact I never feel like I'm 'enough'. 1 in 4 people suffer from mental health issues which when you look at it is a big statistic, its more than likely you know at least two people who are effected maybe more that you don't know of. 

Poor mental health is something we've always been told to hide or made to feel ashamed of, to keep quiet about. To plaster a big smile on your face to get on with your day like there's nothing wrong saying you're 'fine'. When in reality you really aren't, Personally I've suffered with mine for a very long time yet never did anything about it until I hit 21 and was at my worst and decided it was time to speak to my doctor after the push from a close friend and a university lecturer. Since then I've been a lot more open about it and when I'm struggling, yet still I feel like a burden or a disappointment and still like I'm not good enough. This is especially true when I randomly burst into tears over something that seems so meaningless and pointless or when people catch sight of the bruises and scabs on my legs from scratching till I bleed, a side effect of my anxiety that I try so hard to curb. But do you know how hard it is when your stomach is in knots and your mouth is dry yet too wet and you can barely breathe and you know you're going to throw up if you don't stop thinking but then you start to itch and once you start you can't stop. You know you're probably going to leave scars and the next time you get a bath it'll sting or you can't wear that cute dress at the weekend because your legs look disgusting but you can't stop because it eases the sickness, it makes you feel better even though it hurts. This is what anxiety really looks like. It's not just feeling a little sick and worried, it's laying awake all night trying not to throw up, its pretty much damaging yourself because you have so many things going through your head, you over analyse every single thing, become convinced that a certain unfavorable outcome is going to happen and then drive yourself to illness over it. 

This is one of the things that makes it hard to talk about, the fact that people use mental health terms flippantly. They have 'anxiety' because they're feeling worried for a day or two about one subject, they're 'depressed' because something sad has happened, they have 'OCD' because they like order and cleanliness, they're 'anorexic' because they skipped one meal.  By doing this they are undermining the seriousness around mental health making it harder to speak about. Sadly most mental health disorders link together, so what you see on the surface someone saying that they suffer depression or anxiety may not be the whole story a lot of them don't come without another. I know personally I never tell my full story, a select few people know I have some major food and eating issues, most just think it's an annoying quirk or thing with me, some don't even know it 'cause around them I eat far too much. The same with being depressed, I tend to hide that side too and just make a joke about how I'm always miserable haha. As for anxiety I'm fairly sure everyone knows about that because if it's one thing people know about me it's that I am a worrier, I do nothing but worry and then I get stressed out and then I upset and worry some more round and round in a circle until I'm ill. 

We really need to lose the stigma around it and learn not just to talk to each other but to also listen, sometimes someone is trying really hard to get something out and seek some help by speaking and all they need is for you to listen. They don't need you to tell them it'll get better, to lighten up or my least favourite just completely ignore what they said by talking about your issue which you feel is related to theirs but usually isn't and is like an 'oh ok' kinda moment. For me letting my feelings out was what made me realise I really wasn't okay, finding someone who I could trust and speak to completely openly without my guard up and without judgement helped me go see the doctor. This without a doubt was probably the lowest point in my life. I was 21 I had 2.5 months of university left, 3.5 months before I had no where to live, no job/income and a mother who wanted nothing to do with me because she had a boyfriend she wanted more than her children. 

This situation definitely did not improve my mental health it pushed it over the edge, I'm shocked I even got through my third year of university if I'm honest. I barely ate or slept I was running on nothing, yet on the outside I was out with my friends and I was 'happy' you wouldn't have known that I was crying every day and felt like there was no way for me to get past or through this. I eventually saw my doctor who gave me the diagnosis I expected, anxiety and at that time some bad depression he prescribed some medication for the anxiety and suggested CBT or counselling. The medication has some grim side effects and I try to take it more when I know I'm going to be in a situation that will make me extra anxious or when I'm really not feeling great, it works for me it would probably work better if I did take it every day but I couldn't deal with those side effects all the time, props to the people who do though I don't know how you guys do it! 

Of course 3 years on, my life has improved I have a full time job and somewhere to live but I do still struggle I had to get myself into debt to be able to have somewhere to live and not be homeless and getting myself out of that is a struggle which definitely triggers my anxiety because sometimes I just feel like there's no way out of it. The other issue is I never really felt like I had much self worth to start with I've never felt good enough, never felt like I was the person people wanted me to be. This started when I was younger, I was constantly made to feel bad about how I looked, what I enjoyed and how I spent my free time like I wasn't good enough. And then my own mother kicks me out and now even though we talk and stuff I still feel like I'm not enough, if I was prettier or better or the person my mam wanted me to be then maybe it would have been different. If I change who I am maybe everything would be different I'd be enough for a lot of people, what if I didn't worry so much or have these mental health problems then maybe I'd be enough and I wouldn't always have a niggling worry in the back of my head that I'm going to be abandoned and completely lost and alone again. I mean yeah I am stronger because of this situation but I guess I still have some mental scars that I need to work through, but don't we all. 

I started writing this post with the intention of it being a short little one with mentions of my own struggles to help those who feel they need to speak out some courage to maybe do it or to not feel so alone. But it's ended up being a lot more personal than planned and a lot more therapeutic. Family if you read this please do not be offended by anything I have written or get mad at me cause I can't be arsed with that. Also do not be concerned right now I am chill just know that sometimes I'm not and I need you to understand that. Also I know these photos are more outfit post based but I wasn't really looking at the camera on any of them and I thought they suited this post better, because I'm practically hiding on half of them haha. 

If you or someone you know are struggling or something just doesn't feel right, there are people that can help, seeing a councilor is great even if you just sit there and ramble and feel like they don't really give a shit but getting it all out is so therapeutic and truly does help. Don't hide yourself or feel like your feelings are invalid speak out please by doing so you may not just help yourself but also someone else. Even write it all down, that helps me a lot I struggle to open up face to face and I really struggle to trust people so for me writing it down or on here helps me process my thoughts. If you do want to speak to someone professional though the UK has some wonderful mental health charities such as Mind and Mental Health UK. Please remember though you are not alone, there is a way through it and there is help.

We all have struggles just someone of us keep them hidden, try to be kinder and just listen sometimes what may seem like a tiny irrelevant problem to you could be way bigger to the person speaking out. Mental Health Awareness Week is now at an end but hopefully it has helped to get rid of some of the stigma surround MH and help those struggling. I hope my post either helps someone or helps my friends understand a little why sometimes I just seem like an absolute mess haha. 

Kloe. x 

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