Today is Time to Talk Day, an initiative bought about to help end the stigma that surrounds mental health.
I decided that Time To Talk day was something I wanted to get involved with as mental health is something I have had dealings with over the course of my life and the stigma that surrounds mental health has always created a barrier that has stopped me from talking about my mental health. And this stigma seems to be really silly, we all have mental health, whether it is good, bad or you never think about it. I think it is time to start having the conversations about our mental health, just as we do with our physical health, we need to normalise all health issues to the same level.
So, today I am going to share with you my mental health story. (You can find other posts about my mental heath here)
On a Monday morning, back at the beginning of September 2018, I got up to get ready for work and I just couldn’t do it, I couldn’t face the idea of getting ready or even leaving the house to go to work, I felt dizzy, a bit sick and really panicky. I already had a routine appointment with my doctor booked in for that morning and I managed to leave the house and get to it. I sat in the doctors waiting room and just didn’t feel connected to myself, it felt like an alien had taken over and inhabited my body. I got called in to the doctor’s office and just burst into tears. I told him how I was feeling and we went through a series of question and answers and he eventually told me that I had anxiety, stress and depression. I was prescribed medication and given a note for 2 weeks away from work and asked to return to the doctor for assessment at the end of that fortnight.
Those first weeks away from work went by in a haze. I got up, took my medication and either slept or lay on the sofa, I couldn’t carry out tasks very easily as my thought process was jumbled and everything felt too hard. My concentration levels dropped which meant that I had difficulty in reading a book or even following a tv show. I don’t know whether that was down to the medication or whether that was my brains way of shutting off in order to heal itself. I told this to the doctor on my next visit.
I had a lot of side effects from my medication, from feeling too hot or cold, feeling sick, shaking, headaches, bad stomach, feeling like I was going to pass out, lack of appetite, I can’t remember them all now. The worst was feeling really wobbly and light-headed all day, so much so, that I didn’t trust myself to get into the shower or have a bath. I was really worried that I would fall or pass out but really needed a shower. In the end, I had to ask a friend to come around and stay while I had a shower incase I did fall.
Over time my medication was increased as my anxiety levels were still really high and I went on to have further side effects from the medication which have now gone as my body has got used to the ingredients.
I still have problems, sleep is an ongoing issue. Despite how tired I am and what I have tried, I am not sleeping very much day-to-day, but when I do sleep I am loosing nearly 24 hours as my body and mind try to catch up. I have been referred to a mental health worker who will be working with me to improve my sleep soon, so hopefully, I will be able to sleep for a full night again. I still feel anxious, worried and feel the panic start to set in but I have a few coping mechanisms which seem to work well for me. I have had a few anxiety/panic attacks (you can read about the worst one here) but generally I am able to take control of them as I feel them coming on, distracting myself by doing something I enjoy seems to help a lot.
I have been off from work for around 4 months now and I can feel my old self starting to return. My concentration levels are increasing and I’m finding that I am able to do more things. I am finding myself enjoying things that I used to and am preparing to return to work.
I think that the main thing I want to say is that if you are feeling stressed, anxious, depressed or start to notice that your enjoyment in life seems to be shrinking then it really is worth speaking to a medical practitioner. There is no shame to be had by saying that you are not ok, and seeking help for it. I have also been blessed with having family and friends who I have been able to talk to and who have supported me through this period of time which has really helped me, whether it has been a phone call to ask how I am, a text or a visit, going shopping or cooking for me when I have been unable to, having a support network has really aided me along the way.
If you need to talk, there are lots of places you can turn to and a host of on-line support available as well as groups that meet in person, to find out what is available to you in your area Google is a good place to start.
And if you ever need someone to talk to, you can always drop me an email – firstname.lastname@example.org.