Hi everyone, I just wanted to say a big thank you to you all for continuing to visit my site and sending me such kind comments. Unfortunately and frustratingly I have a problem with my email at the moment, so I haven’t been able to respond to each one individually, but needless to say I am extremely grateful. The last few weeks have been hard for me, for some reason my emotions have been all over the place! Getting such positive feedback in the last couple of days has given me a real boost. Whilst I continue to battle my own depression, the thought that my writing is being of some help to others, gives me a real incentive to carry on.
I’ve been receiving numerous questions about how to start your own blog and HTML coding (what ever that is!) The truth is I am far from an expert, in fact I only have very basic computer knowledge and I continue to learn as I go. I also continue to get stuck on a daily basis! From the start, I have used a book called blogging for dummies, which is very self explanatory and gives you a step by step guide (in simple English!) This is what I would recommend.
I will be back tomorrow with my usual Tuesday questions and answers. Thanks again for your support.
People with depression often push others away, I did for a long time. The reason being, I didn’t feel worthy of the support and didn’t want to inflict my current self onto people who I cared for. I was also confused and struggling to get my head round how I was feeling, so how could I possibly expect anyone else to understand? Including others, felt like too much of an effort, I was already exhausted, it felt like I was trudging through mud whilst lost in a deep fog, why would I ever inflict this onto somebody else. You feel unworthy of the help and they feel hopeless for not being able to provide it! You might believe that accepting the help is putting an unnecessary burden on them, but for them not being able to help is much more damaging. Why not have strength in numbers and battle it together. Opening up was far from easy for me but every time I felt a huge sense of relief and I was left pleasantly surprised by their reactions.
It’s easy to pre-empt how you think others view you and your illness, but I have to admit, most of the time I was completely wrong with each of my presumptions.
A MOTHERS PERSPECTIVE
My mum wrote the following passage and I thank her for her honesty.
When a newborn baby is put into your arms there’s a special bond that can’t be broken and as they grow it doesn’t wane at all.
A maternal instinct is an extremely powerful thing, as most mothers would confirm.
From the very first moment of their lives your protection instinct kicks in and you’re lost in admiration of the tiny infant in your care.
All you want to do is protect them from harm, in any way that you can but life is sadly not like that and there are times when there is nothing you can do to take their pain away.
As they grow your concerns are always there as you want the very best for them and when they go to school you leave them at the gates with feelings of trepidation.
Letting go has always been a difficult thing for me and both of my sons would probably tell you that I wear my heart on my sleeve and whenever one of my siblings hurt, I hurt too.
It has therefore been a very difficult time to see one of them struggling with health issues without understanding or being able to help. Broken bones can be easily fixed and although traumatic at the time can soon be forgotten by all concerned. Other childhood illnesses often cause a certain amount of sleepless nights but generally don’t take to long to get over.
An illness that cannot be categorised in a straightforward way seems much more frightening and difficult to comprehend for all concerned. The only way to help I find is to be there for them, when they need you. There’s a fine line between helping and hindering and I have to admit that there are times when I feel that I get it slightly wrong but I try to learn from my mistakes. Sometime having a stranger in your midst is not easy to accept as your son is hidden from view quite a bit due to the illness, which envelops him.
When I see glimpses of him returning, be it a smile that isn’t forced or a mischievous glint in his eyes, I know that he’s going to be all right.
Sometimes you can be so wrapped up in your own personal battles that you forget how your health issues are affecting your loved ones. Living with depression, is not only hard for you but also really difficult for those most close to you. I get questions posted to me all the time, from people desperate for advice on how to help someone they love, who has a mental health illness. Yes it’s hard for them but believe me it would be even harder and more painful if you excluded them all together.
It troubles me when I read my mother describing it as, sometimes like living with a stranger, but I guess that’s the reality at the moment. I can be quite distant at times and when I’m feeling down, I don’t always manage to hide it.
Desperately wanting to help someone but not knowing how to go about it must be extremely frustrating. What’s Important to remember is, often just being there for us can be hugely beneficial.
The first time my brother witnessed me having a panic attack, we were in a busy farm shop. Previous to this I’d felt my anxiety rising. In truth I just wanted to get the hell out as quickly as possible. Unfortunately there were factors that prevented this. Firstly there appeared to be queues everywhere and I wasn’t sure which one we should be in. Secondly my brother was in slow chilled out mode and wanted to browse the store! Of course he had no idea of my urgency to escape and the pending doom that was now suffocating me. Instead he said ‘calm down, whats up with you!’ and even began to laugh. He presumed I was playing some practical joke on him. It wasn’t until I was bent over hyperventilating that he realized it was no joke. I didn’t blame him for his reaction, you can’t expect someone to immediately understand if they’ve never seen you like this. Later, outside in the car park he was extremely apologetic and needed plenty of reassurance that I was alright.
Obviously now it’s different. He doesn’t make a big deal of it but also knows that me having a panic attack whilst we’re out, is always a possibility. The same goes for my friends who are all aware of my illness. At the time I chose to suffer it in silence and not include people. My panic attacks have become less frequent of late, as I have learnt several coping methods and know what situations to try and avoid. People now being aware alleviates some of my anxieties as they’re no longer shocked by me, instead they know how to respond in a helpful manner. This can include keeping calm and getting me to fresh air or a quieter environment. Using mirroring techniques to help me control my breathing. Most importantly they’re able to offer copious amounts of reassurance, which is precisely what I need in these terrifying moments.
Battling your mental health is hard but made easier with strength in numbers
Here are some of this weeks questions and my responses
How do I ease depression naturally?
Depression is a terrible all consuming illness. When it hits you, it hits you hard. On bad days I feel like its beating me into submission. It’s like I’m stuck in quick sand and it’s pointless fighting it as I’ll just sink deeper, risking being completely overwhelmed by it. On such days I try to use one of my positive mantras to remind me that there is still hope. I say to myself ‘tomorrow the sun will rise on a new day’ meaning even though I’m feeling like crap right now, soon I will have a chance to start a fresh. I have learnt to accept my bad days and in turn I appreciate my good ones much more, and make the most of these moments of respite.
So In answer to your question, it’s not easy to ease depression naturally, I rely heavily on my medication. However there are simple things you can do such as having hobbies and interests you can use as a welcome distraction. I often go outside and do some gardening. I figure If I’m going to be sat feeling miserable I might as well be miserable outside doing something useful! Once I concentrate on the task in hand and start to see my progress, I begin to feel a little better in myself. Any kind of exercise is good as it results in endorphin’s being released in your brain that make you feel happier.
reading, writing, cooking, listening to music, painting, it doesn’t really matter it’s what ever works for you. I find looking through old photo albums and reminding myself of happier times can sometimes be of benefit.
All these things aside though, sometimes I just have to accept and go with it, remembering that tomorrow is a new day.
What is an effective treatment for generalized anxiety disorder without medication? I’ve been experiencing this illness for almost 10 years.
Surround yourself with as many positive people as you can. My friends are like a huge protective bubble for me.
Visit online support groups to here from like minded people and gain advice, but if these people become too negative remove yourself immediately.
Counselling helped me. I appreciate it’s not for everyone but I found it easier to open up to a stranger who had managed to create a safe environment for me to do so. It also helped me understand myself better and what triggered my anxiety attacks. This in turn made them easier for me to manage.
Graded exposure therapy has and continues to be a huge benefit for me. Not long since I was at a stage were I was too anxious to leave the house on my own. I had a carer come and take me out, but a friend is just as good. We would have a set plan such as getting to the corner shop and back and we would brake it down into manageable sectors. Every week I would try to get to the next sector on my own. Gradually as my confidence increased I was able to achieve my goal. This can work on smaller or larger challenges, you just need someone you can trust and who has a lot of patience.
Mindfulness meditation and simple breathing exercises helps me to remain in the present and concentrate on the task in hand. It stops me looking to far ahead, which is one of the main factors of my anxiety. I recommend a book called ‘mindfulness for dummies’ to get you started.
Finally I recommend you view my post on living with anxiety and depression. In this I share several coping methods which have worked for me.
What should I do if I hate my life?
This question was asked by a thirteen year old girl who divulged much more information about her state of mind. I have chosen not to include this for her own dignity, but needless to say I was very saddened by her story and it took me back to my own experiences as a teenager. When people are in such a low place it’s very difficult to know what to same to be of any comfort. I was desperate to help her but the truth is she needs more professional advice than I’m able to offer. Never the less I tried to answer her question.
I’m so sorry that your feeling this way, it sounds like your having a difficult time at the moment. At your age I had an extremely low opinion of myself, in fact I hated most things about myself. I struggled fitting in and thought that I hated life. I was encouraged to go to the doctors who decided to get me an appointment with a child psychologist. This was the best thing for me, it really helped to have someone to open up to who didn’t judge me. He gave me some great advice and taught me the importance of standing tall and being proud of myself. I really think you would benefit from having someone to talk too.
You say that your ugly but I doubt very much this is true. Its so easy to stand in front of a mirror and work your way from head to toe, highlighting all the things your not happy with. We all do this at some point, but what you have to remember is what you see in yourself is often a totally different person than what others see in you. Everyone is unique, we all come in various shapes and sizes, and were all attracted to different qualities in each other. Its ok to be different.
As for you feeling like you have no talent, I’m sure this isn’t true either. when you’re feeling down on yourself it’s hard to see the positive. But everyone is good at something and I bet you have a lot to offer, You just don’t realise your potential yet. Fair enough you don’t like yourself very much at the moment but you’re only 13, you’re changing all the time, your still discovering things. I’m still learning about myself and I’m 36!
In conclusion please don’t give up on yourself and please ask for help.
Yesterday in the park I witnessed a little boy seeing the water fountain turning on, As the water shot upwards, there was shear magical delight written all over his face, this was followed by uncontrollable fits of giggles. In seeing this I couldn’t help but smile, but then it was tainted by a moment of sadness, as I asked myself, when was the last time I’d laughed like that? Seeing the world through the eyes of a child is a wonderful thing. It’s the lack of pretense that I really like, what you see is exactly what you get. If they’re happy the world knows they’re happy, and similarly if they’re sad they never hide their emotions. As adults we still have joyful moments, but we rarely allow ourselves to really let go and celebrate them. It’s like we’re scared that we’ll get judged badly for showing our true emotions. Worried about feeling out of control and drawing attention to ourselves, risking a blemish to our cool steely exterior! I think this is extremely sad, life is so short and will soon pass us all by, so why worry so much about what other people might think.
Channeling our Inner child
We all have an inner child in us fighting to get out and I think it’s important to let him out every so often. To a young child, life is a big adventure. They’re fascinated by everything they discover and they perceive the world in its simplest form. Become an adult and suddenly you lose all that, you notice less and everything becomes much more complicated. I appreciate that as an adult we have more responsibilities, but as far as complicating things and not following our instincts, I don’t think we help ourselves. They say that knowledge is power but I think in terms of happiness, too much knowledge can be a dangerous thing. As we constantly search for hidden depths in everything, we become more guarded and pessimistic, we soon completely lose the trusting nature we once had as a child.
As adults are we prohibited from having any fun? Is it a crime to act silly? If it is, I’m afraid I’m guilty as charged! It’s easier if you have kids of your own, a bit of tomfoolery is expected. I envy those of my friends who have children. They get to go to the seaside, dive around on the beach playing Frisbee and charge with their arms and legs flaying into the sea. They have the perfect excuse for channeling their inner child. But whats to stop us all doing the same thing? To occasionally lose your inhibitions and completely let go. If you’re worried about being locked up! you can always pick your moment or even do something silly in the comfort of your own home.
The other day I went to the park, at a time when I knew it would be quiet and the kids would be in school. I got on one of the swings and started to swing as high as I could. I lead my head right back and pointed my legs straight out in front of me. I could see only sky and I imagined myself flying through the air. I forgot where I was and more importantly, how old I was. The only slight reminder was the fact that I barely fit and the chains were digging into my sides! Other than that, I got completely lost in the moment and stayed like that for a good half an hour, as I completely lost track of time. If you’ve been a regular visitor to my blog you’ll realize that half an hour is a long time for me to be in this sort of situation. Normally I’d have to keep a close eye on my environment and would panic that someone was lurking round the corner, but on this occasion there was none of that. Being in-tune with my inner child like this, allowed me to feel more relaxed. Young children don’t have the same kind of anxieties. It’s only as an adult that these insecurities and irrational fears start to mount up.
In the blink of an eye my brother and I have turned into adults but the two cheeky chaps above still exist in us to this day and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
So in conclusion, don’t neglect your inner child, It’s a huge and important part of you. I challenge you all to embrace this side and let it out more often. You might be surprised by how fun and precious life can still be.
You want to be supportive of your partner or friend but at the same time you need to look after yourself. If you feel that your mental health is being compromised due to the situation then you need to be prepared to take a step back. Its important that you don’t live in each others pockets, spending time apart will be of benefit to both of you. Remembering to make time for yourself will ultimately help make your relationship stronger. If the person is suffering from clinical depression, they may need professional care alongside the care that you provide.
I have a job with a small company I don’t really like. I look at peers profiles on linkedin and facebook and these guys are shooting through the roof. It depresses me. I have always had more interest in the qualitative aspects of life. In art, in travel, in getting to meet and know people.
Don’t judge yourself against the so called achievements of your friends. Social media can soon turn into a platform for bragging rights! when we die we can’t take anything with us, much more important are our personal experiences rather than how successful we are in our careers. Therefore in my opinion you have the perfect outlook on life. Keeping active and busy and looking after yourself by having a healthy lifestyle will also help you to feel better in yourself. The more interests you have, the better. If you do begin feeling down you can use hobbies as a great positive distraction. For more advice please view my looking after yourself post.
I would have to answer a resounding YES! to that question. I am still suffering with my depression and some days it can feel unbearable. But however bad things get, I still thank God that he’s given me the strength to carry on living. Life is extremely precious and we’re all guilty of taking it for granted at times.
I have worked as a carer looking after people with severe physical disabilities. Some of which were wheelchair bound, and had limited to no movement at all. They needed washing and dressing and complete assistance with all aspects of their lives. Due to there conditions they were in constant pain and discomfort. One girl had up to 30 epileptic seizures a day and spent large periods of the day crying. She had tissue paper thin skin and visibly hurt every time we had to move or re position her. Inevitably the discussion of euthanasia came up regularly. a lot of the staff genuinely believed that she’d be better off not here, and indeed this would be the most humane thing to do. I for one disagreed with them. Every time we played her favorite lighthouse family CD she appeared happy and content, and when she was in the hydrotherapy pool she would smile throughout the morning. In other words there were still aspects of her life that gave her enjoyment. As long as someone has some kind of quality of life, then life is worth living.
I was also extremely shy in high school and I joined a lunch time club. This got me more friends as we all had a common interest and something to initiate conversations. Over time I started to come out of my shell and I’m sure you will too.
Being shy and maybe a little more sensitive, is not such a bad thing. There actually good qualities to have. As you grow up people will find you intriguing and mysterious, and they will want to get to know you better. Remember some of the kids who seem confident on the surface might not be at all. Often people who come across as loud and brash, are actually just putting on a front to hide their insecurities. I include a post on my high school experiences in my blog, It’s called Beating The Bullies and it might be of interest to you.
It certainly helps but no it’s not enough. Like all serious illnesses depression needs treatment by a professional or sometimes like in my case, a team of professionals! you also need the support of people close to you. Accepting you’ve got it and then asking for help is the first stage to any kind of recovery or of learning how to manage your illness. Its not going to be an easy journey and being strong willed will help to a certain degree but you can’t deal with this on your own, you need to ask for help. please visit my blog and read the acceptance post, I hope it’s of some help to you.
Imagine the scene. A young adult on crutches staggers into a department store. It’s clear for all to see that he’s struggling and getting around the store is going to be a challenge. The majority of people will show empathy and kindness to him, if given the opportunity they might even offer him support. The staff are more likely to bend over backwards to help and make his shopping experience as comfortable as possible. Now it’s possible I’m being a tad naïve in this case but I do have experience of pushing people around shops in wheelchairs. All of a sudden you find people queuing up to be helpful, opening doors, moving objects out of the way, even offering to carry your shopping for you! You’re given all the time and space you need.
Getting around a department store would be extremely daunting for me and likely be even more challenging than for the person on crutches. My mental health illness is equally restrictive but unlike the people with physical ailments, my illness goes unrecognised. On first appearance I seem to be in perfectly good health and able to cope. In a busy environment people are not likely to give me space, even though I desperately need it. My anxiety levels, sometimes make leaving the house an impossibility. Though people are becoming more educated and perceptions are changing for the better, it’s still hard for them to understand what they can’t see, so sadly there is no immediate solution.
Maybe it’s time we started challenging the way things have always been. If we lived in a world where we felt comfortable enough to talk openly about our mental health. In such a world it wouldn’t be unusual for someone with anxiety issues to phone up a venue, prior to their visit, to request some help. This could result in a member of staff meeting you at the front of a shop and escorting you around or even meeting you at the entrance to the train station and taking you exactly where you need to go. The possibilities are endless if you just have the confidence to ask for help in the first place. I know I have no right to preach to you when I haven’t even tried this myself yet, but it’s certainly an option I’m going to explore in the future.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help, You have as much right to it as anyone else and you might be surprised by the response you get
What can society do?
Media and television have a huge influence over how people view mental health. Now, before I get on my band wagon, Its not all bad! There’s plenty of expert phone ins on day time tele, which are informative and offer good advice and links to support groups. There’s actors who portray mental health very accurately in some of the soaps and dramas. In Coronation street I thought Steve Mcdonalds story of living with depression was a particularly good one and in Emerdale Ashley’s dementia storyline was extremely well written. Both of which brought much needed awareness to the public. But as well as this on the same programs you get so many of the derogatory terms used when referring to someone with a mental health illness.
Brain dead, Insane, Nutjob, Fruitcake, Retarded, Not all there, Nothing up stairs! These are just some of the terms I’ve heard used flippantly in the last couple of weeks, and there normally said in a humorous manner, not intended as an insult! Fair enough, I can take a joke as much as the next person, but you wouldn’t expect a joke to be made about someone with cancer or a brain tumour would you? so why accept it with mental health? and why should we be so surprised that people have trouble opening up when this is how they’re perceived?
Then you get the news stories, regularly including violent attacks by someone with a mental health illness. Of course not everyone with mental health issues is violent, most of us know this, I hope! But what about the younger audience, what must they think?
I think the media need to include more positive stories relating to mental health and I strongly believe that at school, just as much emphasis should be put on the subject, as is already put on physical education. If we can get people talking about it from a young age then hopefully perceptions will change and more people will get the help they need.
Here are some of the questions I have received this week and my responses to them
Why do people with depression push others away?
There’s lots of reasons why I push people away, the main one being unless they’ve had depression themselves they can’t possibly understand how I’m feeling. When I’m in a depressed state everything’s a huge effort and therefore having company is the last thing I want. I also don’t want to inflict my negativity on to other people, I would much rather suffer in silence. Add to that, that I feel I’m a burden and don’t deserve peoples sympathy and I think I’ve answered your question.
Of course I tell other sufferers that its not at all healthy to isolate yourself like this, and if you can to surround yourself with love ones, but the truth is when I’m having one of those days and I find myself engulfed in misery, it’s extremely hard to follow my own advice
What caused your depression?
Such a simple sounding question but an almost impossible one to answer. You could say that many accumulative factors lead to my depression or you could say that it’s an Illness that picked me completely at random and no past influences or traumatic events had anything to do with it. The truth is I still don’t know and that’s what makes it so difficult to live with. I had a terrible time at high school dealing with being bullied on a daily basis. I became extremely introverted and learnt to repress my feelings as a coping mechanism. This continued into adulthood when I continued to have no confidence and extremely low self-esteem. I kept being transported back to that little boy cowering in the corner of the school play ground, as I always took on the persona of a victim (I still often do)
Several years since, whilst working in a mental health setting I was attacked and after this incident I have suffered with panic attacks. I still find myself stuck in a vicious cycle of anxiety and depression, where one always effects the other. Due to my depression It’s easy for me to become isolated for long periods of time. Once I do have to go somewhere or converse with someone I now become even more anxious. The anxiety may now get the better of me, forcing me to cancel my plans, which makes me feel inadequate and even more depressed! So in answer to your question medically speaking nothing in-particular can cause depression, however anxiety and repressed feelings can be a big contributing factor. That’s why asking for help and talking therapy are so important to help you manage your illness
How did you discover you were depressed?
It kind of crept up on me to be honest. I’ve been depressed along time before I was diagnosed with it and put on the anti depressants. Its just I was very confused about the way I was feeling, I Didn’t know what was wrong with me and didn’t want to accept the possibility that I might have a mental health illness. It was a very frightening time in my life. I found I was sleeping much more than usual, getting up later and going to bed earlier, anything to avoid having to face the day. Even talking to my family became a huge effort. I found myself having dark thoughts and bouts of unbearable sadness for no apparent reason. It could hit me at the strangest times, such as washing up the pots. There was no logical explanation for this and I hated not feeling in control. I also felt hugely ashamed by how I was feeling. What right did I have to be depressed when there were others so much worse off than me? I tried to hide all this from my family but obviously didn’t do the best job. Eventually they encouraged me to go and talk to my doctor and he got me the help I needed.
Are there any benefits from suffering anxiety and depression?
This question was from a 19 year old young man who also shared this information with me
As any sufferer of Anxiety and Depression would tell you: support is critical to conquering this illness. I don’t have that support. I’ve had to rely on myself to improve myself and find a way out of this mess and towards a brighter future. I’ve recently got a job and have tried to put myself out there and meet new people, but my anxiety is starting to get a hold of me, and I wish I had someone to talk to about things on a daily basis, I see a psychologist, but I find it hard to open myself up to him, mainly because I don’t feel that connection. I know I’ve kinda rambled on but I’m really struggling to fight this alone. My family don’t understand how hard it is for me. I know I’ve made so much progress and done so many positive things since being diagnosed, but I’m still struggling fighting this alone. Any answers would be greatly appreciated.
My answer –
If you don’t feel your able to open up to your psychologist you can request to see another one, Its so important to have someone you feel comfortable with. I ended up seeing a counsellor instead, Less qualified than a psychologist but someone I immediately connected with. Even then it took me nearly six months before I opened up to her. Once I did manage to do this I immediately felt a huge sense of relief. It suddenly became easier to open up to my family, something I’d never been able to manage before. Family don’t always get how hard life can be living with a mental health illness, unless they have experienced it themselves, but the only way there ever going to learn is by talking to them. I know this is easier said than done but they might just surprise you.
You need to remember that your not alone with this. There’s so many people just like us out there. They say that 1 in 4 of us will suffer from a mental health illness, I think the reality is its even higher than that, which makes us part of the biggest club in the world! the trouble is the majority of us suffer in silence. At least you have come forward to seek help, it takes a brave person to do that, so I commend you. There’s so many amazing support groups out there, Either on line or in local groups, here you will find people who can relate to the way your feeling and offer you advice on how to manage your illness. you just need to be honest with your doctor and he will get you the extra help you need. I feel like I’m rambling myself now so going back to your original question-
Since suffering with my mental health I have become much less judgmental of other people and much more empathetic when somebody is struggling. Its also helped me to discover much more about myself and that being a sensitive person is not a weakness. My whole perception of life has changed, I take less for granted and discovering mindfulness has learnt me to live in the present and appreciate much more of the simple pleasures in life. In short I think I prefer this version of myself than the one in the past, even though I now suffer from anxiety and depression
Today I’m going to talk about keeping things simple. For all you smart arses out there, when I use the word simple I’m not describing myself! I’m actually referring to the way we live our every day lives. Time moves quickly and that’s why its important not to waste a single moment. All the small day to day experiences are much more significant than you think. The majority of us rush from one task to the next and sadly the simple pleasures end up passing us by.
A friend asked me a good question the other day. He asked ‘If someone told you that you only had a week to live, what would you want to do in terms of enjoyment? Here’s what I came up with :
Obviously I’d want to spend quality time with my family and friends
Maybe a countryside walk with my brother
A milkshake with my friend in our favorite café
A couple of ice cold beers in my best mates garden
A picnic with my mum at our favorite lake
One last game of table tennis with my team mates
One last round of golf at my favorite course
Watching a classic film, like Goodfellas, whilst indulging in some Ben and Jerrys ice cream
Hang on a minute, I did all this last week and I’m still here! You might question why I haven’t got anything more elaborate on my list, but would you really want to cram as much things in as you can, or like me, would you prefer to keep it simple and stick to what makes you happy?
Rather than just a week,when I planned to kill myself I gave myself a full month to savor my last moments. Once I’d sorted all the practical stuff, making sure my debts were paid and I left my family enough money aside for the funeral. Once I’d sorted all this, all that was left to do, was to keepthings simple and enjoy the time I had left. This was not a solemn time, it actually turned out to be a great time and a very honest one, I no longer had to pretend to be something I’m not. I found I was able to reflect on all the positive and completely live in the moment. No more worries about the future, what future Ha!
More than just a feeling of relief, all my senses were suddenly heightened. I remember thinking, this might be the last time I see this, So I’m going to make sure I really see it! This could be the last time I feel this and so I’m going to make sure I truly feel it! I was noticing and appreciating more than I ever had before.
Have you ever quit a job which you really hated? you hand your resignation letter in and straight away it feels like a huge weight has been lifted. Whilst your working your notice period, all of a sudden things don’t seem so bad, you might even start to wonder whether you’ve made the right decision to leave. I’d decided to make the ultimate quit, quitting on life, and all though I still thought I’d made the right decision I was far from certain.
I’m not going to go into details again about the day I almost went through with my suicide plan. If your interested in reading about this, its in my ‘There’s Always Hope‘ post. But this day was again about my senses being heightened, and arguably about a stronger spiritual connection. In the build up to the day and after it my whole outlook and approach to life changed. Now I’m satisfied with just being me and not having to prove myself to anyone. Still being here, alive and well should be, and is more than enough. I’m not going to pretend the journeys been an easy one, living with depression is extremely difficult. On my bad days I still hurt, and I still feel lost, like there’s no way out. But by learning to live in the here and now and keep things simple, I’m putting much less pressure on myself and I no longer want to die (which has got to be a good thing!) I’m now able to enjoy some of the simple pleasures of life, like a beautiful sunrise or a clear starry night. Things that in the past have somehow passed me by. I feel lucky to be able to witness these things and thank god everyday for giving me the strength to carry on.
I don’t have to go far to feel close to nature. This is what I can see whilst sat on my garden swing
Mental health is still an extremely uncomfortable subject to talk about and life would be so much easier for myself and fellow sufferers, if this wasn’t the case.
They say that one in four of us will have a mental health illness at some stage of our lives. The reality is it’s almost certainly much higher than this but sadly the majority of people don’t seek help. Recently I was made aware of an alarming statistic that over 70% of people who commit suicide, haven’t attempted to get any medical support. Often the families are left totally shocked and bewildered by the tragic event, saying that they didn’t see it coming.
It fills me with sadness when I think of those people trapped in their own heads having to deal with unimaginable mental anguish and eventually losing the battle. Feeling alone in every sense of the word, right up until the end.
At the moment mental health topics are on the television every day, be it in expert phone ins or actors portraying depression on dramas and soaps. People are being made aware of all the helpful organisations that exist and are being encouraged to seek help from their GP’s for the first port of call. So why when the subject is at it’s most prevalent, do the majority of people, even at their darkest moments, still refuse to get help? I find the whole thing perplexing to say the least and an area that desperately needs challenging.
I grew up in a world where I was lead to believe that only weak-minded people could get a mental health illness and only a negative pessimistic person would end up getting depressed. Depression not even being recognised as a proper illness but something that people should just be able to snap out of! I wonder how many still share that view today. I now realise this is complete rubbish. Mental health is not a weakness and as for depression, I for one have always been a positive upbeat person who sees the bright side of life, but I still got it! I could give you several examples of strong level headed people who end up completely pole axed and unable to function properly, all because of this illness. Telling people that I suffer from depression is a great way to kill a conversation! Either that or they say they understand as they get a bit down sometimes too. Clearly these people don’t get it and it infuriates me beyond belief. Having depression is not the same as feeling a bit down, just as having a mental health illness does not make you cuckoo or a fruitcake, or any other derogatory terms I’ve heard used. It does not mean that you’re stupid in anyway either. Look at Stephen Fry, one of the most intelligent people on the planet, but his illness has been well documented over the years.
The truth is it doesn’t matter who you are, rich or poor, successful or unsuccessful. Sure- a traumatic event might act as a trigger but often this isn’t the case and you might just be one of the unfortunate ones who happens to get it. Like any other debilitating illness it affects people at random. No different to cancer or heart disease, mental health does not hand pick you. It has no favourites. But the facts are there, clear for everyone to see; suicide is the leading cause of death in young people aged 20-34. Just how many of these deaths could have been prevented?
I accept that society is becoming more open to talking about mental health, but there’s still a terrible stigma surrounding it, which prevents individuals from seeking help when they need it the most. I was nearly one of those people. Terrified by the prospect of asking for help, I didn’t think I was worthy of it and worst of all I couldn’t accept that I was in any way mentally ill!
The majority of people I have spoken to are of the opinion that suicide is a selfish act. This has been the same for as long as I can remember and growing up I shared the same view.
It doesn’t help if you’ve been directly affected by it or know of a family who has. You’ve been witness to the horror and devastation left behind. It’s perfectly normal at this point to mainly sympathise with the family and not give a second thought to the victim and the horrible place they must have found themselves in. What you witness is a whole world of pain and suffering and you can’t help but feel an element of resentment towards the person who caused it. It’s a delicate subject, I know, but in my opinion to consider suicide as a selfish act is a huge misconception. Suicide is not a selfish act, suicide is an act of shear desperation by someone whose experiencing unimaginable amounts of inward torment. Someone who has lost all sense of hope and literally feel they have no other option.
In my case I was convinced that my family and friends would be much better off without me. I’d become a burden to them all, I’d become a burden on society. I longed for it all to be over, for the pain to finally stop. People’s lives would be so much easier without me dragging them down.
I knew there would likely be sadness right after my death but this didn’t compare to the sadness and disruption I was going to cause by staying alive. I didn’t see myself ever recovering, you see, I was only going to get worse and cause further distress to my family.
I guessed that my closest friends would try to take on some of the responsibility and I hated the idea of them feeling in any way to blame. I therefore wrote letters to each of them in a vain attempt to explain my actions and try to reassure them that they had been amazing friends, explaining that this was my decision alone and nothing they could have said or done would have changed the outcome. I couldn’t possibly predict their emotions but I’d much rather they felt anger towards me, as apposed to guilt. These letters were extremely difficult to write. Would a selfish person have gone to all this trouble?
My next big concern was financial. I didn’t want to leave my family with any debts. In an ideal world I would have sold my house and paid off the excess mortgage. Previously it had tenants in but at this stage the house was vacant and had been up for sale for some time. Unfortunately I’d had no luck, the economic climate being in a poor state. However after doing extensive research I realised that the debt of the house would die with me and my mother would not be accountable for any of it. This came as a huge relief.
I made sure I had enough money in the bank to pay for the funeral and put all my account details in a file in my top drawer. Also in this file I put any other important information my family would need, such as my birth certificate, national insurance number, mortgage details and all the numbers they’d need to contact after my death. I was trying my best to cover all angles and make the process as simple as possible for them. Does this sound like the actions of a selfish man?
I didn’t intend to tell anyone my plan to end my life but as the pressure valve increased I desperately needed some kind of release.
Jack Daniels became my only friend
I chose to open up to my counsellor and in doing so I immediately felt a huge sense of relief. I didn’t hold back or spare any detail, I literally told her everything.
It wasn’t until a much later date when I was in a better headspace and had no intention of going through with the plan. Only then did I confide in my family and closest friends. My friends all responded in a similar manner, in complete shock. They said things like “ How could you have done that to us? How could you have possibly done that to your family?” I couldn’t blame them for asking these questions and don’t get me wrong they have been amazing support to me ever since. But again, their initial reaction indicated that they believe suicide to be a selfish act.
It’s hardly surprising that people are so reluctant to talk about their mental health or admit to having suicidal thoughts. Yes there’s many organisations out there offering great support but we can’t expect the alarming statistics to go down any, unless people’s attitudes drastically change.
In my opinion people need educating from a young age. Physical health is well covered at school so why not put as much emphasis on mental health. Everyone is likely to be effected by it at some stage of their lives, either themselves or someone they’re close to. So why not get them talking about the subject as early as possible.
It needs to be accepted as a serious illness and I still have my doubts that people do. For those of you who claim that you do accept it in this way, ask yourself this – have you ever sent a ‘Get well’ or ‘Thinking about you’ card to someone with a long term illness? The majority of us would say that we have. But when was the last time you sent one to someone with a mental health illness?
When I think about needing reassurance, the first thing that comes to mind is my family. I am extremely fortunate to have a loving supportive family who understand all about my illness and the limitations it brings.
I’m fortunate to have a small group of amazing friends who also get me and are just like an extended family. When I’m out with them I feel like I’m cocooned in a protective bubble. Their support is invaluable and gives my confidence an extra boost. Don’t get me wrong I’m not mollycoddled by them, I still challenge myself daily and try to be as independent as possible, they just keep my spirits up and reinforce to me, that I’m doing the right things. When I do something or go somewhere on my own, my reassurance is that I always have a friend or family member on stand by. If I’m struggling with my anxiety they’re only a phone call away and will come and rescue me, not even questioning the reason why. Knowing I have this plan B in place, gives me the necessary peace of mind and more often than not, I find I don’t have to use it. I appreciate that not everyone has the same level of support that I do. I remind these people that there’s an awful lot of online support services available and I too am happy to respond to any comments. It’s important to remember you’re not on your own.
Reassurance- Repetitive cycles
I gain comfort from a continuous routine. I guess it’s part of my illness that I need to feel in control and that there’s no surprises waiting for me around the next corner! Sadly there’s not too many guarantees in life but I find nature offering me some. Like every autumn the leaves turning a golden brown and falling off the trees, or every spring daffodils and tulips shooting up everywhere.
Just like these other phenomenon, for a two week period between spring and summer, my garden bush begins to blossom, tiny white flowers appear everywhere and the bumble bees come out to play. On sunny days there can be hundreds of them hard at work collecting pollen. The greedy ones drop to the ground, too heavy to take off! pretty soon the flowers all turn brown as they die away. This reoccurring event takes place every year without fail and there’s something strangely soothing about it.
I crave a simple life, where I know exactly what’s expected of me. Even though I know such a life doesn’t exist for anyone, I try to limit the surprises in mine, by excessive planning. For example If I’ve been somewhere before, I notice where all my escape routes are for future reference! I also know what time places are likely to be at their quietest. It might sound crazy but this is the simple reassurance I need to live my life.
Praying For Rain!
I don’t believe there’s any use in praying for the weather to change, I’m sure God’s got more important prayers to answer! However If I was to ask for anything it would be rain! For all you sun worshipers, before you scold me for even suggesting such a thing, think about all the other people and animals who also love the rain. Some even depend on it to survive, you see it on nature programs about creatures living in the baron desert lands, they can’t wait for the wet season to come. Closer to home you get gardeners who love the rain, saying it helps keep the grass healthy and the flowers blooming. In hotter climates people find the rain refreshing, as it cools them down, the Jamaicans refer to it as liquid sunshine.
Winter is my favourite season, mainly because it’s cold and it rains a lot! My body image problems are less of an issue, as I get to cover up.
In England when it rains the majority of people run for cover. The majority don’t go anywhere on foot if they can help it. If I see anyone they tend to be in too much of a rush to even notice me! So basically you can guarantee a quieter environment, which is ideal for me! Strange as it must sound I never feel more comfortable and stress free, than when I’m out in the rain. It’s one of my biggest reassurance, when everyone else is hiding indoors, I find I’m in my element.