Mental Health and Me

Friday, October 14, 2016

This week (10th-16th October) has been Mental Health Awareness Week in New Zealand, with the Monday being World Mental Health Awareness Day. I have mentioned on my blog a handful of times that I have had mental health "issues", but I haven't really gone any further into it before. Seeing as I say that this blog is a personal space for me, to talk about my experiences and what I love, I thought it was about time I talk about my mental health.


Personality traits turning into Symptoms

I have always been an introvert. Being shy around new people and quiet in social situations is just what I do. But looking back on my life, especially in my teenage years at high school, my introvert-ness was no longer a personality trait and started to turn into an actual problem.

I don't think I can ever pinpoint what triggered my anxiety and depression; it possibly could have always been there and through the pubescent-filled teenage years where girls are mean and boys are attractive, things must have just started to get to me. Looking back on it, I'd say around fourteen and fifteen years old was when I started to doubt my worth and existence. It would come in waves, I could go weeks and months feeling great, but then it'd come back and I'd be in a mind-slump for just as long, if not longer.

Depression and anxiety is not fun, it makes you feel horrible. It makes you think about every action you've done and every word you've said, how you went wrong, how you offended everybody, how you annoy everybody by just being there, how nobody truly likes you. How anything that happens to go right in your life will soon come crashing down and it will be all your fault, and you will be worse off then you were before things started to go great.

Seeking Help

It wasn't until I was almost twenty that I decided I had better go do something about my mental health. It had gotten to a point where I would come home from university and cry for hours alone in my room; doubting my friendships, my boyfriend, my chosen degree, my overall existence... this went on every single day for over a month. It effected my studying, I didn't speak to any of my flatmates or friends, I barely ate at all; it just went downhill and it hit me that if I didn't do anything about it now that I could start taking my thoughts into my own hands, and I was scared of what I could do to myself.

What annoyed me was that nothing "bad" had actually happened (which I am forever thankful for), so why was I so sad and upset all the time? Why did I hate myself the way I did? Why was this so exhausting? Why is everyone else able to be happy when they haven't had anything exciting happen in their life?

I went onto my university website and found a form to fill out about my mental health, and why I wanted to seek help about it. Honestly, I filled the whole thing out in an hour, but left it a couple of days before I hit submit. The questions that were asked felt a bit invasive, but I felt a whole lot more comfortable typing my answers alone without anyone around me than if I was in a room with someone having to say my thoughts aloud. I'm very much a crier, and I found it quite helpful to be able to do this alone, free from interruption and judgement (that I would have imagined up, myself).

Medication

Within the week I got an appointment with my doctor and a counsellor at my university and they diagnosed me with depression and anxiety straight away. As soon as I came home to my flat from the appointment with the counsellor I sat in the lounge and told my flatmates my diagnosis and just started crying. I thought that this meant I was one of the "crazies" (fact: they don't exist). To say that my flatmates had no idea what to do was an understatement.

I then had to see a doctor to see whether I needed to go onto medication, which she confirmed that it would be the best. Again, the tears started flowing because mental health is in the mind, why on earth would I need medication for something that happens in my mind?! I told her I was worried about what it would mean if I went onto medication, asked how long I would need to be on it for and what the medication actually does. She explained that I didn't HAVE to go on the medication, but that she would give me a script to take to the pharmacy incase I changed my mind. The following day I picked up the pills. My boyfriend was also worried about the medication because he didn't know what that would mean for US and how it would effect me. But at this point I was scared for myself, and thought that if both the counsellor and the doctor said it would be good for me to go on the medication then it wouldn't hurt.

Now and the Future

Over two years later I am still on the same medication. When I forget to take them, I can definitely tell; I take my medication in the morning with breakfast and if I forget, the bad thoughts and feelings begin to resurface around mid-afternoon. I would like to one day not need to have medication, and be able to balance my emotions and thoughts out without the need for it's help; but at this point in my life I don't see myself being able to do it alone. Essentially, what I have done is put my mental health on pause until I sort my life out, then I will work on it later on. Whether this happens next year, in five years time, or in ten years. When I feel like I am ready to work on myself I will.

I saw the counsellor one more time after that initial appointment, which meant that I was a lot more comfortable talking about myself, and he gave me the confidence to begin to not worry about things as much as I was, and that taking time for myself is okay. It sounds silly to say that now, but back then (and long before) when it was really bad, even when I have bad days now, it helps.

~

I hoped this gave you a bit of an insight to myself, and how my mental health has changed over the past few years. I do not mean at all to say that I have had it "the worst", because I know people who haven't had the confidence, or the opportunity to take the step towards help like I managed to do.

What I do want to say is that there is no such thing as being "bad enough" to seek help. If you ever feel like you are struggling or are having bad thoughts, you are always welcome to chat to me about it; but I do heavily recommend that you take the step to see a professional. Mental health isn't something you can work on by yourself, it's not being "weak" to see someone about it. There are so many kinds of help you can reach out for; there are helplines you can call or text, there are doctors, counsellors and therapists you can visit, there are forums and websites you can visit, and so many other places you can go.



Here is a master-list of worldwide helplines, and here is an introductory guide to mental health disorders.

Stay safe,

- Louise x

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2 comments

  1. Loved the post, so informative about mental health! That's awesome that you shared this.

    xo Anna Elizabeth
    www.annaelizabethevents.com

    ReplyDelete

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