Mental health awareness – anxiety + depression

Hey there loves.

This week was mental health awareness day, and I wanted to write a post on it – but unfortunately Ariana has been really ill and it stressed me out a great deal.

Which unfortunately made my anxiety levels pretty high.

Tuesday was a particularly bad day for me. 

So I kind of shut myself off, you know.

I am not going to say I am entirely out if it because I am not – in fact I even ordered a good delivery because I literally didn’t want to immerse myself in a crowd of people.

Ironically I cut myself off from people – but then I feel alone.

It’s a horrible, vicious circle.

As Ellis Grey once said – the carousel never stops turning.

Incredibly accurate words.

I have been suffering this way for years.

It’s not as simple as being able to switch of my depression.

Mental health is not as simple as using an on/off switch.

It’s easy enough to paint on the smile – I do it everyday.

But then the problem I find is the painted smile is enough to make a person believe that you are just having a ‘bad’ day.

That because I have a family and children I have nothing to be depressed about.

Because apparently if you have these things – a husband, a home, children – then I have no reason to be depressed.

I sometimes wish it were that simple.

But it’s not.

It is an ongoing battle.

My mind is fighting daily with my thoughts. Thoughts of not being good enough, of being a waste of space.

I am not the only one who fights the inner struggle.

Which I guess is the point here.

You can walk by a person on the street who is completely put together – but you don’t know what is going on inside.

We must never judge on appearance alone – 

Anyone can suffer from depression and anxiety.

You don’t have to have had a bad childhood or a traumatic past to suffer.

I always try to look at people with kindness and to never assume anything about them

Never judge a book by it’s cover yes?!

The other thing is the stigma surrounding mental health.

People hear the word ‘depression’ and immediately roll their eyes and brush it off.

Because it isn’t an illness right?!

Wrong.

It is a debilitating illness.

Crippling.

Painful.

Heartbreaking.

Sad.

And sometimes fatal.

It is that painful that some suffers take to suicide in order to end their pain.

We need to break the stigma surrounding this illness – try to help save lives.

Reach out and help those who are in pain.

No matter how many times i say I am fine, I am not.

If someone reached out I would grab on with both hands and never let go.

Having someone say “it’s OK I am here for you” is an incredible thing.

If you know someone, anyone who suffers

Help them, reach out, be their person.
Let’s break the stigma.

The dark shadow on your shoulder – depression

I have written on this subject before.

I have shared and tried to teach others that depression is a serious illness.
Because often I get the impression that people see depression as ‘just feeling a bit sad’

No sorry. Just no.

Depression isn’t about felling a little sad or having a down day.

It is all encompassing.
It is like a negative, black shadow that follows you around.
Like a weight tied around your waist, stifling your movements.
Like living inside a body that is fighting to survive, with a mind that is trying to give up.

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This image here, almost reached out to me and pulled me into it.
I look at it and I know exactly how it feels to be there.

Those words, are words I say to myself almost daily.
I am a master at putting myself down.

For years I have fought and struggled on.
For a long time I fought alone, in silence.

Just me and my shadow.

The shadow that dug it’s claws into me and refused to let go.

For so long I hid how I was feeling from friends, family, loved ones.
I guess I figured that they wouldn’t understand.

And I guess in some way they don’t.

Sometimes unless you have struggled yourself, it’s hard to understand and put yourself in their shoes.

When I was struggling deeply with PPD I tried to open up to my mum, bearing in mind my mum grew up in a time where depression was not talked about and even more of a taboo subject than it is today.

Her response was “what do you have to be depressed about?”
I know she meant well.
But unfortunately for my mum she had no I idea what kind of thing was happening inside my mind.

There have been moments over the years where I have almost reached breaking point.

It’s not something I share often, but during my last pregnancy I locked myself in the bathroom with a bunch of pills and were it not for my daughter knocking on the door – I am almost 100% certain I would have taken them.

I was constantly thinking negative thoughts.
I was constantly pushing myself further and further into a black hole, which very nearly became an abyss – of which I may not have been able to come back from.

The more you tell yourself “you aren’t good enough” and “everyone would be better off without you” the more you believe it.

It’s like writing something in permanent ink, once it’s there it will not disappear.

I think that one of the worst things to hear is –
” what do you have to be sad about? There are so many more people worse off than you are”

This kind of proves how people do not understand depression. They see it as wallowing in self pity – but what they don’t realise is self pity is something you can come out of.
Depression tears you down, tells you you aren’t good enough. Pours on guilt and shame. Breaks your spirit.
It overwhelms you with feelings if worthlessness and tells you you deserve to feel this way, to be punished.
And to have someone say that I am feeling sorry for myself and that I am ungrateful for what I have crushes me.

I already feel like I badly in myself, this makes it worse.

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I was always very good at putting on the face of “I’m OK”
I still am.

I guess I don’t like to burden people with my problems.
I always feel as though people have their own troubles to deal with without me adding to it.

And that is where I went wrong.
That is where I allowed my shadow to win.

Let me tell you, speaking out has lifted so much weight off my over burdened shoulders.
It has also helped to break the stigma surrounding depression – and how it is not something to be taken seriously.

But it IS something to be taken seriously.
It is a subject that NEEDS talking about.
The stigma NEEDS to be broken.

Sadly so many people take their own lives because the suffer in silence.

We need more of an area of help for those who suffer from depression.
We need there to be more of an understanding that it is an illness.

I will keep saying it until people listen.

The more stories I read about people who are battling or have battled, the more my heart breaks.

I will keep doing my part to help break the stigma surrounding depression, for those who suffer and those who are sadly no longer with us.

We owe them that.

I have said it before and I will say it again –

Even if you feel alone, or like you don’t have a friend in the world.
You have a friend here.
You have a friend in me.

Don’t ever hesitate or think I don’t want to hear your troubles.
I do.
I want to help.
I will be there for you.

I am your friend.

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My battle with anxiety

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I am 1 of a percentage in the population that suffers from anxiety.
I consider anxiety to be a mental health disorder.
1 in 4 British adults suffer from at least one diagnosable mental health issue.

But I am not here to talk statistics today.
I want to share what I want people to know about anxiety – how it makes me feel, how I may come across to others.

Anxiety is not simple or straightforward.
It’s not black and white.

Those who suffer from an anxiety disorder know what I mean.

It is paralysing.

When I am in a group of people that I don’t know – I am silent.
Fear paralyses me.
I get irrational thoughts in my head that take over.
I fear being disliked straight off the bat.
I fear rejection.
I retreat inside myself and just become a non verbal mannequin.

This doesn’t make me a B***h
This doesn’t make me weird
This doesn’t make me worthy of your judgement
This doesn’t mean that I don’t want to talk to you
This doesn’t mean I am an angry person

Someone said to me once – you didn’t bother trying to get to know such and such at my party…why are you trying to talk to her now?

They didn’t seem to understand that social situations with people I don’t know terrify me.
I don’t want to be this way.
I don’t enjoy feeling this way.

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I feel confined never confident.
My heart races, my pulse quickens.
My hands tense into fists.
My nerves get the better if me and voice disappears – leaving me mute in a sea of chatter.

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This speaks volumes to how I feel when I open the door to a full room of people.

My anxiety began at the age of 10.
I developed a phobia of vomit/vomiting called emetophobia.
I spent the best half of the next 2 years unable to control it.
Several times when I felt ill, I ran away from home…thinking that running away from the feeling was logical thing to do.
I stopped eating all together, which triggered the beginning of my anorexia.

I became full of fear and irrational thoughts.
I became filled with dread whenever I felt ill or anyone else did.
If anyone in my home was sick I ran and hid for days in my room, not exiting until I knew it was gone.

Today, if my children vomit I get paralysed with fear and spend my time hiding in the kitchen when I should be taking care of them.
I just can’t bring myself to do it.
The last time it occurred I was washing the dishes and contemplated cutting open my hand so that I had a reason to be out of the house.

This may seem crazy to you, to those who don’t suffer with anxiety.
But to me it makes logical sense.

This is how it began.

But since the age of 10 it has escalated into so much more than just a paralysing fear.
The fear has given birth to many, many babies and bred into a crippling anxiety that leaves me breathless.

Some days are good, like today.
Some days are bad.

Last week, every time I got into the drivers seat of my car I started panicking.
My chest got tight, my breathing changed.

I feared having an accident.

It only occurred to me several days later what my thoughts were doing to me.
In my minds eye I could see all the bad scenarios playing out.
My thoughts just keep building until they make a hideous monster of a thought that takes over everything else.

I cannot help this feeling.
It takes over and there is nothing I can do.

I would love to say that I am confident, happy and outgoing.
On paper perhaps.
But in person no.

It hurts my heart to feel this way, but it is not something I can easily change.

If there is one thing I would want people to know its that –
I cannot help how feel
My anxiety takes over and leaves me almost empty.
I wish I didn’t feel this way.
It doesn’t make me a B***h

It makes me human.

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