I promised I would continue writing my blogs after deadlines were over so here we are once more. I do have a particular reason for writing this, which will become clear very soon.
I apologize for abandoning my blogs and website, I will get back into the routine of writing, it may just take me a while to get back into the swing of things. That and my laptop is broken so I can't unplug it from my external monitor as the laptop screen won't come on at all. I apologize for any spelling or grammatical mistakes, it can't be helped.
But enough about my crap laptop. Let's crack on!
The title of this blog is the song Dreaming of the Days by Katherine Jenkins. I love this song, it has really helped me in the last few days.
I want to talk about mental health.
I want to talk about this as it has been getting a lot of attention recently due to the Royal Family speaking out about their own struggles. I have also seen more articles and videos on social media telling the public that it’s okay not to be okay. One in four people will suffer from mental health at some point in their lives. That is a huge number of people. Mental health is something we desperately need to talk about. We need to open up the discussions, to let people who are suffering that it's okay to talk about. We need to remove the stigma, the taboo that surrounds mental health. You don't have to be ashamed if you're feeling low, anxious, depressed. There is someone you can talk to. There is help available. You just have to reach out. It'll all get easier after that.
It's okay not to be okay.
I love that. I love how simple that sentence is. Because it is okay not to be okay. It's okay not to feel happy. It's okay to feel horrible.
For me, the first stage of recovery is to accept that you're not okay and that you may need help. It is often the hardest thing to do. It can be so easy to tell people around you that you're fine. It’s so easy to lie. Because we don't want to worry anyone. We don't want to kick up a fuss. I think that's why there is such a big stigma around mental health. We're scared about how people will react. We want to fit in and be the same as everyone else when we’re dying inside. Overwhelmed by emotions and thoughts that drag us down to our lowest points.
I've mentioned before that I suffer from mental health. And it sucks. It really does. I've suffered from anxiety for many years and also suffer badly with depression. Once more, this is not a pity post. I do not want sympathy in any way. I simply want to shed light on an issue that is very close to my heart. I want others to know that they aren't alone. There will be someone there for you, even in your darkest days. You just have to reach out to them.
I know how hard it is to tell someone you really care about that you need help. I still struggle with it today. I hate contacting friends and family and telling them I need help, that I need someone to talk to. Because I don't want them to worry. I don't want to be a burden. Everyone has their own problems, they don't need my problems on top of them.
But I am reminded time and time again that they will make time for me. They know their limits and will tell me if they can't help if they are a little busy. And in return, I try my best to do the same for them when they need help.
There are days when I don't want to leave the house, I don't want to contact anyone. I just want to curl up with my earphones in and forget about the outside world. I can't always do that. Yashka, my Guide Dog, she has to be worked. There are things that need to get done around the house, things I need to go and pick up. Today I forced myself to go to the local supermarket even though I was suffering from crippling anxiety at the mere thought of stepping foot outside the house. But I did it and that is all I'm doing today. I am proud of myself for going out, even if it was only for an hour or so. I did it.
Since finishing uni, I have noticed my mental health has been acting up more and more. I like routine, I like to be in control of what I do. The sheer perspective of four months of nothing doing anything cause me to have a panic attack. I have to keep busy to keep my thoughts at bay. This is why I have continued to book study rooms at uni. I try and keep myself as busy as I can. This doesn't always mean meeting friends and catching up. Sometimes it means sitting in a cafe on my own and doing some work. At least I got out the house.
Living with mental illness is all about the little victories. The smallest accomplishments that may seem tiny to some, but mean the world to others. Making yourself get out of bed and having a shower is one step closer to getting better. You've done something and you don't have to do any more than that if you don't want to. If you just want to stay in bed with a blanket or a book or your favourite show or film, that’s okay. Do whatever makes you comfortable, you are the only one who knows your limits. Don't let people push you when you're not ready. Those kind of people is not worth the time of day.
Mental illness is not something you can get over easily. There is no ready cure. It just happens sometimes and we can't stop it. I remember a few years ago, the person I was dating at the time just didn't understand my mental illness. They didn't think anything was wrong with me. They thought my life was perfect, that I didn't have any reason to be depressed or anxious. That there are far worse people than me.
This is one of the worst things you can ever say to someone with mental illness. You don't have to have an explanation for how you feel. You don't have to have a reason, you don't have to justify your feelings and emotions. No one can really understand how you feel. We can only empathize. But anyone who has suffered from mental health can be there for those who need help. I will always offer help to someone who needs it. I know my limits. I know what I can and can't do. But I will always try and make time for people.
Mental health is terrible. It's crippling and life changing and can make you feel as if the world is pressing down on your shoulders. But you can get through it. I used to have days that morphed into weeks where I couldn't do much. I felt awful, a terrible knot would be in my chest so I couldn't breathe properly. I would want to cry constantly. I didn’t want to do human interaction. I just wanted to be left alone. Music and writing really helped me. I could put my earphones in and just relax knowing I was safe inside my little world, even if it was just for a few hours. We all need to find something that helps us. Those little things that make our days a little bit brighter. Warm socks, a text from a loved one, a hot cup of tea, our favorite episode or film. Something we can return to time and time again and not get sick of. It's the little things that keep us going. Remind yourself of the future, even if it seems like there is no light at the end of the tunnel. Speak out about the bad days and relish the good ones. Share your experiences, there may be someone out there who is going through the exact same thing as you. You might be the one to save them.
If you need someone to talk to, there are plenty of organisations out there.
Talk to someone. A friend, a family member, your GP. You don't have to go through this alone. You are not alone. Take each day as it comes and doesn't be afraid to ask for help. You are not weak. You are not selfish. All you need is a helping hand.
You'll get there, I promise. Take it from someone who knows, who has been through it all and managed to come out the other side.
You will relapse, you will have bad days. But that's the point of recovery. It isn't plain sailing, it never will be. Find out your triggers. Find ways to help yourself feel better. Make a support plan, there are plenty on the internet.
Most of all, keep yourself safe. Look after yourself. Everything else can wait. There is only one of you. And you mean the world to so many people. You do matter. There is no reason to be ashamed. Screw what people think. If those around you love and care about your well-being, they are the only ones who matter.
I'll leave you with these quotes.
Maggie: [about whether to commit suicide or not] what do I do now?
Owen Harper: You've got a choice. If you think that the darkness is too much then go for it. But if there is a chance, just some hope... It could be having a cigarette or that first sip of hot tea on a cold morning. Or it could be your mates. If there is even a tiny glimmer of light, then don't you think that's worth taking a chance? -Torchwood, a Day in the Death.
Owen Harper: Tosh, I'm scared. I'm scared that if I close my eyes, I'll get trapped. In the darkness.
Toshiko Sato: I'm here. -Torchwood, a Day in the Death.
Look after yourselves.
Until the next time.