“I pledge my commitment to the Blog for Mental Health 2014 Project. I will blog about mental health topics not only for myself, but for others. By displaying this badge, I show my pride, dedication, and acceptance for mental health. I use this to promote mental health education in the struggle to erase stigma.”
It’s February 1991, you’re 25. You should be full of the optimism and joy of youth. But I see you sitting on the bed, sobbing your heart out, your world fallen apart, feeling so desperate you believe you can’t go on.
You want to end it all. You contemplate dying by your own hand. You think seriously for the first time ever about killing yourself.
Don’t. Don’t. Don’t. DON’T!
Let me tell you why.
I know it’s a scary thought. A really frightening, awful thought. But, listen, YOU ARE ABLE to put it to one side and get on with your life, despite the deep sadness you’re feeling.
Bad news though kid! Two years later – bang. It comes back and hits you in the face big time. You thought you were doing all right, but that misery’s been gnawing away at you, and it’s really got you in it’s grip now.
These next six months are going to be really tough. Lots of terrible, dark moments. Deep despair. Weeks off work. Feeling like a zombie. Wondering how to get through each long day. The mental torture will be like a physical pain. Frankly, it’s going to be shit – sorry, but no point mincing words – that’s just how it will be.
But, hey, hey – chin up. Good news. You get through it. You really do. You laugh again and smile – even inside – something you thought would never happen.
You have some great times, some really happy times. You do well at work. You fall in love again. You get married. You’re lucky to have such lovely friends and a supportive family. They become more important to you as the years go by. You plan and take on some amazing challenges. You really embrace life in a positive way.
But. And here’s the hard part. All that bad stuff, that black despair from before. It never completely goes away. It kind of gets inside your head. And it lodges there. It’s like a nasty little worm, eating away at you – always telling you you’re a bad person. It maximises guilt. It preys on all your vulnerabilities.
You become plagued by bizarre, intrusive unwanted thinking and a chain of anxiety and worry that you hamster wheel around in your head. You resort to long unproductive hours writing about how worthless, pathetic and feeble you are. Let me tell you – this is not true and does not help.
You remain busy with life and work and engaging with people. Yet you often feel detached. A bit weird. Rarely completely at peace.
Other things happen in your life that trigger more deeply black moments. But you get better at recognising them, better at asking for help and talking about them. Better at not being so afraid of them.
You start seeing a homeopath and find it a significant help. You take up running – yep, hard to believe I know – but it proves to be a great mental release, and get this, you actually enjoy it!
You find pleasure in simple things – being outdoors, sunsets, moonlight, rainbows. Imagine missing all those.
You think you’ve got things sorted – you’re managing it all OK. But then you go and crash again, because of work and life triggers – same old, same old.
But now, pay attention. This is the most important part.
This time, instead of covering up all those insecurities, the ones you feel are just “you” and make you weird and bad. This time, you go and talk to someone – a therapist – who helps you make sense of it all.
You discover you’re not alone, that other people think a bit like you – that you have something called OCD, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. It’s hard to believe, I know, you not being house proud and all, but that isn’t always the case. Anyway REALLY, you do have OCD, and that’s largely why you are the way you are.
And you realise all that intrusive thinking is just nonsense. Unwanted rubbish, like computer spam. Don’t read it. Don’t worry about it. Delete it. Get on with the inbox of life.
You do a group therapy mindfulness course and meet others with insecurities and fears, sparked by issues in their own lives. It’s good to talk with those who understand.
You remember once being told: “Shine a light in a dark place and it won’t be dark anymore.”
You decide to use your experience to help others. Over the years you’ve learnt that many people suffer in silence, too afraid to show their pain. And, sorry to say, some very sadly do get lost on the way.
Being a writer, you start a blog (that’s a modern thing, don’t worry you’ll catch up with it) believing it’s much better to be open about things than bury them under stigma and ignorance.
You think if writing this helps someone else – one other person – how good would that be?!
That’s pretty much all I can tell you about your life, here and for now.
I know you’re probably sitting there still upset and feeling vulnerable. And crikey, learning about all this, must be pretty daunting. But hey, you have the courage to deal with it. Really you do. And it’s okay to be the way YOU are, WHO you are. Really it is. You are OK!
So put away those dark thoughts. Smile and embrace the world. Go out and live. I’m glad I did!