Mental Health Monday: Let’s Talk About It

This week’s Mental Health Monday combines with the World Suicide Prevention Day happening a few days back. I read this post from Claire who writes at Plodding Along Quietly Crazy. I felt so much of it resonate with me. It’s brutally honest and from the heart, exactly the kind of conversations we need to be opening up. Silence is helping nobody in their battle for mental health. We need to talk about it openly and honestly. Claire is Mammy to two little men. She documents life with them and her battles with health and parenthood on her blog. You can also find her on Facebook. Hopefully this piece will resonate with you too and get you talking if you’ve been keeping schtum, or start off some conversations with those around you.

Have you ever been so depressed that even the thoughts of dragging your arse out of bed has seemed like an insurmountable task. To the point where taking any pride in your appearance or personal hygiene is just too much effort. When getting yourself to work, school, college or through the day with the kids in tow has you anxious the night before worrying how you’re going to cope…

For me depression is an abundance of emotions at once, eventually leading to none at all. A numbness sets in where even having noise in the same room is effort. Having to hold a conversation and seeing friends becomes impossible. I become almost hermit like, confining myself to the tasks that need to get done but even those, some days, are a bit much. I find myself then beating myself up because I see other people living life and able to find enjoyment in little things and I kick myself to snap out of it, try to will myself happy and then I feel even more worthless because it never works. No matter how many people you have around you in this moment you still feel so alone and exhausted. Sometimes it eventually lifts after months and sometimes years at a time. I’d be fine for a while also ranging from weeks to months and then boom it all falls apart again…

But that’s the ups and downs of bipolar disorder and it took me years to come to grips with it and realise my triggers and to know when I was going downhill before depression set in. Usually this came in form of a lack of appetite, lack of sleep, feeling worried a lot were the most easy triggers to get familiar with, then it became a matter of getting help. Talking to someone to help rationalise everything this ranged from counsellors, to family and some amazing friends. This didn’t stop the depressive episodes from happening but it meant there were always a few decent auld skins that helped me get through it.

It wasn’t always as manageable. And often everything seemed to be going wrong, it feels as is this dark cloud was following everywhere lashing down a constant storm and I began to ask myself what is the actual point of it all…?

I felt an overwhelming desire to end my life 3 times in my lifetime. I used to be ashamed to admit that. The reason being I was forever seen as the oddball, or the black sheep because nobody understood what was happening or why. The rumours people would spread once they found out you had a mental illness was tough to cope with both as a teenager and an adult. There was never any real education about mental health around the time I was engaged with the mental health services. People were genuinely afraid to be in my presence because they felt that this mental health issue made me liable to do something spontaneously horrendous…

It is only since things have changed and more people are coming forward with their experiences that I am at a point where I feel comfortable with who I am. My mental illness isn’t me. I am a different ME when I am well. That mantra keeps me encouraged to force myself to get up and do the little things on the days I don’t want to do squat!

I have had suicidal thoughts… 15 years old was my first attempt, when I was a two years into a diagnosis of lung disease and not living life was my second and when the boy’s father passed was the third but I manage to pull myself back before any attempt was made. Because I spoke out and told some really good friends what I was feeling, that I wasn’t coping and that I wanted to die… I had zero coping skills as a teenager and most of my early twenties, anxiety to beat the band and so many issues I didn’t know where to start. I never felt well. It became an exhausting and painful existence. I needed it to stop, I hated everything about who I was and my life…

A calm finally settled over me and I snapped out of being “that moody one” for a few days. I had come to terms with what I was going to do and felt happy, so happy within myself. And it showed. Nobody would have known what I was doing. I have found the latter two times I have felt the same that I have always felt happy once the calm settles over me.

My advice to you is if you know anyone suffering from severe depression then please if you notice them suddenly snap out of it and become happier than you have seen them in a long time… Don’t be afraid to sit them down and ask them “Have you had any thoughts about hurting yourself?” A person in this moment will often reach out and be honest if the opportunity presents itself.

 
It peeves me when I hear people say Suicide is the most selfish act anyone can commit. Often the reason is because we are trying to protect family members, we feel like a burden and as a result of depression everything becomes amplified and multiplied and we OVERTHINK SO DAMN MUCH! We think life would be easier for everyone as well as us if we weren’t around.

I know I personally hate telling my family when I depressed again because I feel they are thinking “sure when is she not?!” So I try cope and be all badass but have found myself weeping in the early hours because I feel I haven’t done enough, or just because…

I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for some amazing family and friends getting me through it. I should’ve died but I didn’t and now I’m chronically ill I’m fighting to stay alive, I don’t want to go anywhere. I want to see my kids grow up and be there for all the little things… I keep telling myself Their Dad got denied that privilege and I have experienced enough to know not to take these years for granted.

If you’re feeling blue and like life is unbearable, remember there are people and free services that you can avail of, please reach out and talk to someone, what’s another hour? Use it to give yourself one last chance. Trust me when I say it will get better, life improves massively when you surround yourself with the right people. You will look back on it in ten years and be glad you didn’t take that step or weren’t successful in doing so.

I have seen too many friends and family members lose loved ones through them choosing to end their own lives, I have found friends dead from suicide. It ruins so many lives leaving so many unanswered questions and what ifs, often I hear people say “jaysus you wouldn’t think it of them”… Suicide and suicidal thoughts could affect everyone of us if circumstances prevailed. When someone feels the need to take such a drastic step we need to ask ourselves what is going so wrong for these folks that they need to end the suffering and what can we do to help them with that? The government aren’t taking this matter as seriously as they should, if they were then County Wexford would still have enough services and a mental health hospital to meet demand. If it is too much effort to get a shower on those days it’s too much effort to expect a suicidal person travel an hour to seek proper help… Immediate assistance and proper care should be available without having to jump through hoops.

People are struggling now more than ever for a multitude of reasons one of the most common denominators being the financial struggle put upon people these days. We lose 8-10 people in Ireland every week through suicide. Can any of you afford counselling? I know I can’t! So we are reliant on a failing system that is backed up with waiting lists so long it’s taking months for a person to get an appointment. I don’t know about you guys but I know my mental health doesn’t work to a timetable. If I’m feeling pretty depressed I’m damn sure 3-6 months time isn’t the right time to be seeing me. How am I or anyone supposed to cope in the interim? People are slipping through the cracks and we are losing our loved ones because we can’t get the help when it’s needed.

As people, it should come to us also to be a little bit more humane and empathetic. If we cannot rely on a failing system it’s up to us to make the changes. Show more compassion, be more encouraging. I always tell my chaps if you leave someone feeling better about themselves after you’ve had a chat with them then you’re doing a great thing. There are points in my life where something nice being said could’ve changed so much. There is so much negativity and hate. Realise that who a person is now isn’t who they were in the past. Don’t tell someone to snap out of it… THEY CAN’T! But be a smile, a listening ear and offer a helping hand. If the person pushes you away (and they will) then make sure you drop them a text or a call every few days to show them that you care.

But most of all just know that it’s OK not to be OK. It’s totally fine to have days where you do nothing but lie on the couch. When depression takes over self care, eating well and friendly faces are key! This will pass in time with the right supports… Let’s start by being that support not just for ourselves but those around us. End the stigma. LET’S TALK ABOUT IT!

I’ve survived through the hands reached out at such a dark time in my life. And for that I’m forever grateful. This is Suicide Prevention Day and Suicide Awareness Month please make sure to let someone know that you care. Be the light they haven’t got at the moment… The change starts with us.

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If you need to talk, the Samaritans is on the other end of the phone at 116 123. It’s a freephone number. They’re confidential and trained to listen and allow you to tell what is going on with you in a safe space. You don’t need to give your real name or details if you don’t want to. Just please, do talk.

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4 comments / Add your comment below

    1. I’m so glad that people are reading them and getting good from them – it’s why I started the series, it’s exactly what I needed when I was in my darkest places and I hope that if someone else is in that situation reading these stories from other parents it will help them feel less alone. Thank you for reading 🙂

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