Ironically enough, I didn’t know it was #WorldMentalHealthDay today, because I’ve been signed off work, refusing to leave the house, and avoiding social media, whilst struggling with horrendous nightmares and panic attacks, for the past week.
It isn’t the first time this has happened.
It won’t be the last.
I have a psychology degree. I want to be a counsellor. I know, inside and out, all of the biochemical reasons people experience mental health conditions.
I, of all people, shouldn’t be ashamed to discuss my own problems.
I can’t come out today, I’m scared something bad will happen if I leave the house.
I know I look rough, keep yawning, I haven’t slept for 3 nights – the nightmares won’t stop.
I can’t go for dinner with you unless I can see the menu at least a week in advance, or I might have to exercise for 5 hours when I get home, to balance it out.
I can’t watch the new ‘Saw’/’Final Destination’/’Scream’ movie, when I hear women screaming I hyperventilate.
Things I never said. Things I never had the courage to say.
When I was 10, panic attacks; 13, an eating disorder; 15, social anxiety; 17, depression; 20, PTSD.
Now? Recovery. Remission. The occasional dark day/week/month, where it all seems like a curse I’ll never get to break.
Now? I sit on the couch, cats in my lap, a dozen unanswered texts on my phone, from friends I’m lucky to have. A Twitter notification from the business account I’m blessed enough to have been able to start with one of my best friends. Emails full of exciting opportunities. An offer to do my Master’s at one of the best universities in London.
And still, this dark cloud, as I await a call from an outpatient referral service, so we can work out what’s wrong with me, another time around.
The thing is, I don’t think I’m ashamed, any more – a little hesitant as to what the response to this will be, of course – a lot of ‘real life’ friends will see this link on my Facebook page – but life is good, and I am grateful for it, and I am dealing with my problems, as best I can.
If you know someone who has been struggling with mental health, the best thing you can do is be there for them, be supportive, and try and encourage them to get help.
Head over to the Mind website for information on donating, resources you might need for those you love, and information on urgent help.