I always find these ‘days’ a bit odd, surely when it comes to health, physical and mental, it should be something we talk about every day?
I know many people that are open about their mental health or have discussed it before, which I have on a post on my old blog a few years ago, but there is still a stigma, an embarrassment or caution with a majority of folk to say ‘no, i’m not ok’. I know exactly how that feels! To feel ashamed, embarrassed, like something is wrong with you to worrying people will think you are attention seeking, talking behind your back and gossiping with your name in their mouths. It brings anxiety, sleepless nights, not wanting to leave the house, answer a phone call/text, speak to anyone to struggling to get out of bed or see any point in being here.
In many ways social media contributes to this. A fear you aren’t doing enough, working hard enough, working out enough, slim enough, curvy enough, rich enough….the list is endless and it really fucks with our minds. Seeing others living the ‘dream’ when they post online social with these glittering lives, fabulous bodies and endless trips around the world. What you do not see is the apps some use to alter the way they look, the filters, Photoshop, long days travelling for work, the lonely times……we all tend to show a highlight reel of our lives. Because who wants to read or view info on when we can’t get out of bed, we feel fat, we are pissed off, we are down or that we hate our jobs?
I am glad I haven’t really grown up around social media until my late teens when Bebo and MySpace were around. Even then it was blurry pictures from nights out, what bands you were listening to or a collection of photos from T in The Park where there was no presence of ‘festival fashion’ to the extent there is now in these looks on Instagram.
I was first diagnosed with depression/anxiety 8 years ago but when I look back I have had it much longer, I just didn’t know at the time what was wrong with me. Some of it started at primary school, where I was bullied for being good at art, wearing glasses or just generally me. I always felt different to everyone else and that was something I was confident about when I was younger, until being bullied. You see I stood up for myself but who was the one the teacher caught, yup me, and that put me back in my shell. Fast forward to high school where it wasn’t really bullying, just never being the same as everyone else or in with the ‘cool’ ones. Early in High School some days I would hardly eat I felt so down, my emotions suppressed my appetite. I was never popular with boys or girls and felt ‘geeky’.
The real shit happened once I had left Uni, graduated and came back to my home town of Wick. Uni had given me confidence to be myself, even though I had thought about not going, I was in the big bad world of work now and peoples attitudes and they way they treated me really affected my mental health. From retail fashion to banking it took it’s toll. In my banking job after around three years I cried before I went to work, cried at lunch and in the evenings, I dreaded it. I lost a lot of weight, lost interest in everything, I was on edge when I was there in case I made a mistake, I was a mess. The way customers spoke to me even when I was polite to managers just not giving a shit all built up until one day I just broke down crying after a man was rude to me at the counter…..with a queue of people waiting to be served and I was on my own, I couldn’t leave as there was no one take over.
I remember that day crystal clear. My mum phoned me at lunch time saying to come to hers for lunch and when I got there she said a customer of the bank was in the queue, saw what happened and went along to where she worked to inform her. She was ragin’, not at me, but at the guy who she knew locally and told me that she was making an appointment with the Dr for me and she would take me along. We argued as I didn’t want to go and make a tit of myself but eventually I agreed to go
I had been miserable and crap for so long I was just used to it by that then. A dark cloud hanging over me feeling like it would never get better. At so many points I just thought I don’t want to be here, I wish someone would run me over and I would die. It is hard for me to type this because who admits they want to die? I never admitted that to the Dr. I felt numb, lost and alone. After my appointment I didn’t agree to be signed off because I was too embarrassed and we were short staffed. But within a week I was back, signed off & I got CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) websites to go onto and prescribed Citarolpram, which I still take daily 8 years later. I could not cope with life, people, I wanted to just go to the hills and hide.
Gradually I got better, 6 months later returned to work while researching my business idea that I had seen a gap in our local market for, then handed in my notice. Started Lark & Lily Designs, eventually got a part time job to help pay then bills, it was a struggle for the first few years hardly making any money. But ‘I cut my cloth accordingly’ as my mum says to get by.
I have worked since I was 14 so I appreciate the value of money and what hard work is, but do you ever feel no matter how hard you work, how much blood sweat and tears you put in, it feels like you are going no where? Well that is when the darkness reared its ugly head again, around 4 years ago. I never felt anything I did was never appreciated or good enough. I had worked my arse off for years trying to build a small business myself with no funding & only a couple of family members for moral support. Some close to me basically said I don’t think you should be doing this and weren’t very supportive or encouraging. I felt my life was just absolute shit, I didn’t want to be in it and if I’m very honest I just wanted to die. I saw no point in being alive when no one gave a shit, I was in a deep dark abyss and could see no way out. My mind whirred, I couldn’t sleep, I hated myself.
I have to say one of the things that gave me hope was Hugo, my french bulldog, he was there with me through so much of being lost in the dark and that is what it was…..the simple thing of just being there, to cuddle, rest or sleep with. I genuinely think he saved my life.
I still live with depression and anxiety, some days it can be debilitating but as I have gotten older I just accept that there is chemical imbalance in my brain and I am not the only one. I find that folk are surprised if it comes up in conversation that I am on medication, or my happy pills as I call them. That linking back to the social media side of things or if we are out locally shopping, its the brave face that is on some days just to get by. Sometimes I still think is this in my head or is this really happening? Especially in business when shitty things happen but then I have good friends and family that can see things from an outsiders perspective and confirm I am not mad. Just because you can’t always see an illness doesn’t mean it isn’t there or invalid. I have really only skimmed the surface of what it really felt like, because this post was very hard to type.
There is so much more easily available help websites and charities that can help now if you don’t want to speak to someone you know. It is so difficult to say anything other than you are ‘fine’ when someone asks. It is ok to say no and look after yourself and your health. Don’t let anyone tell you the way you feel is wrong, silly or not normal. Please know you are not alone, you are worthy of being on this earth and there is light after those dark clouds have passed, everything in this life is temporary.