DAY 100 – PART ONE: YOU
For Day 100, I’m very happy announce there will be TWO parts – this one now, and there will be another surprise later this evening. To celebrate the completion of the blog I decided to branch out and let YOU write the blog!
I hope you can all find people to relate to as they speak of their experiences surrounding mental health: I have included gender, location and age.
I hope you can all find people to relate to as they speak of their experiences surrounding mental health: I have included gender, location and age.
My name is S and I am clinically depressed.
I had always been different from my classmates at school; I was far sadder than them and I was always that little bit more cynical. I however, for years, put this down to the relentless bullying about things such as my weight which I believe to be a massive factor towards how I am now.
Seeing dieticians since I was 7 wasn’t exactly the fun after school activity that I wanted to partake in but I didn’t have a choice. I am not one to criticise the free healthcare that we have in this country, however, being admitted to CAMHS when I was 17 because a doctor didn’t read my records makes me angry. Not being able to be discharged as I was under 18 at the time, took its toll on me. Being naturally skinny with a BMI of someone with anorexia ‘isn’t acceptable’ and I would be told weekly that my body was wrong. At 18; I discharged myself.
I have lived my whole life with mental health illnesses; my sister has Aspergers, my brother ADHD and both my parents are depressed with my mother having OCD also.
Between the age of 17 and 19 I saw sex as a way to feel something, this was the wrong route to take and has tainted sex for me ever since; now it’s just meaningless. Sex to me with people I barely knew seemed risky and fun; these people found me attractive in a way and as someone who was told that their body was wrong from age 7, this was amazing! I had found a way to be appreciated (or now I think about it, used.) Believe me, this is not the route to take.
My depression spiralled out of control when I refused to take the Fluoxetine (Prozac) that I had been prescribed as I ‘wanted to make myself happy without it.’ This led to my college attendance slipping because I couldn’t get out of bed. 42% as an attendance rate is enough to get anyone kicked out. Luckily for me, my tutors put me on early study leave as they understood my circumstances as I had told them about my mental health history prior to this event. That helped. Telling your school or college about any condition you may have, be it asthma or depression; helps. I swiftly started taking them again.
I got diagnosed with depression when I was 17. When I told my mum she already knew but didn’t mention it before as she didn’t want to interfere. It upset me that I was officially diagnosed, however, the tablets they had put me on helped and therefore I only saw it as a good thing. I no longer wanted to harm myself daily or fantasise about being hit by a train. I voluntarily got myself the help that I needed and that is what so many people are afraid to do. Being mentally stable is difficult and believe me I am nowhere near, but I am closer. The first step to even beginning to be okay, is realising you’re not.
Female, 19, Wiltshire
I suffer every day with anxiety and depression from my time serving in Iraq, losing friends and coming home to find a marriage that was gone.Every day is a struggle, a cycle of anxiety, and paranoia from the anxiety, more anxiety, more paranoia and so on. I WANT to be right again, to not fear someone in a closed door meeting is talking about me. I want to be able to sleep again. I just want the pain in my head and heart to go away.
Male, 45, Mid-Atlantic US
I suffer from two mental illnesses and a learning disability. I suffer from depression, an anxiety disorder, and ADHD.
Many people do not take my illnesses and disability seriously because they do not understand what I am going through and how it affects me.
I take medications for all of my "problems" but that won't make them disappear.
I try my best to act like nothing is wrong with me and to be as happy as possible when I'm around people, but sometimes it's so hard and I just want to get back into bed for the rest of the day.
People really need to try to understand mental illnesses a lot better. But it shouldn't be the person with the mental illness that has to educate you, try to educate yourself and help end the stigmas that surround mental health.
Female, 19, Connecticut
I have battled anxiety and depression for as long as I can remember. My parents thought my anxiety was low blood pressure, so I never got the proper treatment until I sought out professional help when I was 23.
When I finally saw a psychiatrist, I was diagnosed with severe anxiety and bipolar disorder. It took nearly two years, but we were able to finally find a combination of anti-depressants, mood stabilizers, and anxiety medication to keep me level.
However, in 2008, I divorced my children's mother and became a single father nearly overnight. A combination of the divorce, getting custody of my young children, and the fact their mother gave up custody uncontested put me in a downward spiral. Not only was I on edge 24/7, but I also couldn't eat, which led me to lose 45 pounds in three months.
While the pain of the divorce hurt, I sucked it up for the sake of my children, ages 4 and 13 months. I was traveling down the proverbial rabbit hole, but my friends and family were there for me to help pick me up. Not all my friends knew about my mental problems, but them being there for me just because they cared about me and my children helped more than they will ever know.
Six months after all that went down, I snapped out of my funk and everything started going well; I bought a house, a new car, and started dating again. I ended up getting married again in 2012, but ended it six months later as she completely changed and turned into a person who was not the woman I fell in love with.
This divorce didn't bother me at all. I did lose over $60,000 between the loss I took selling my house, the down payment on our new house and various other things, but I didn't care. You can always get more money.
Everything continued to go well until this past July. I suffered a stroke just two weeks after my 35th birthday. I am still not in a good place mentally due to my medical issues, my inability to work, and the shit health care system we have in America. It will have been five months since my stroke before I am able to see a neurologist next month to begin the process of getting better.
During this time, I have kept pretty much to myself. I stay at home, play video games, watch movies, and hang out with my kids. It's a huge change from the life I was living just a couple of months ago. Even though I am constantly down in the dumps, I do everything I can to keep a positive outlook on life. I tell myself "things will get better; this is just a temporary setback" daily.
And as silly as it may sound, I have found some comfort on Twitter. I have recently met some awesome people and chit chatting with them helps boost my mood. I'm grateful for every single one of my followers and just want to let you know I appreciate the fact that I entertain you enough to follow me and I enjoy our banter about MMA, gaming, mental health, and a variety of other subjects.
I hope my mental state gets back to where it was once I start the process of getting my medical well-being back under control so I can once again live a normal. To all of you who feel the same way, here's the best advice I can give you: when you wake up, be thankful you see the sun. Everyday—no matter how gloomy or anxious you feel—is another day you have made it.
In parting, I'd like to leave you with a quote I love and have posted on my bathroom mirror.
"If you are reading this, you have survived your entire life up until this point. You have survived traumas, heartbreak, devastation, the different phases of life, and here you are. You go, mother fucker. You're awesome."
Male, 35, Kimberling City, MO
I never asked for this illness.
I never asked for it to rip through my body and soul like hell unleashed on earth
It has destroyed my life, my family
It's manipulated my life since I was 12
I never knew it was there
It lingered deep and silent like a beast of the night
Waiting to pounce
It was assisted by the control of parents, teachers, priests
Assisted by bullies and their tirades of savage viciousness
My mind opened and let the beast in
It occupied and proceeded to swallow me whole
I never realized what was going on
It clouds your mind, a pea soup over the 'Real You'
A vicious entangled deceitful selfish we that enveloped me
It fed itself and destroyed my friendships, my family
Medication and psychiatry assisted in cloaking its power
Then I saw a glimmer of hope I don't know when but I decided to move away from the beast
To separate us, like a troublesome divorce I had to work quietly and slowly
First step - reliance on meds
I starved the beast and it has dissipated
Never gone it lurks waiting for an opportunity to mess me up and resume its torment
I'm standing strong but the hardest part of recovery is realizing the trail of destruction, the people you loved the most are the ones you hurt the most.
The battle has only begun but I am stronger and I have clarity
Male, 44, Ireland
I decided to speak to those I know personally as well to comment on how it is in relation to dealing with others, this is what they had to say:
I’ve worked in a nursing home since I was 17/18 years old, in fact that was my first ever job as a teenager.
This job was highly demanding, and I didn’t realise this until a couple of weeks into it. This is because it wasn’t a “normal” nursing home. The nursing home cared for elderly dementia residents. Looking back, I think I would say that getting that job was my first ever experience with anything mental health related. It opened my eyes to so many different areas. For example, anyone can have a mental health illness; it can be major, or tolerable. But the main thing is to not focus on the illness, the person is an individual and not the illness they have been diagnosed with. Dementia for example; it’s a disease of the brain, from my understanding of it; is it slowly attacks and kills your brain and with it brings many problems. Working with elderly people, it was emotionally hard to see them deteriorate, because you do become attached to them, that’s unavoidable, for some it’s a fast process and others it’s a slow one. I guess you can really say that I had a lot of compassion to give. This job birthed my pursuit of a nursing career which I am currently undertaking. I found out this year that a friend of mine was diagnosed with a mental health illness and I was sad for her, but I knew the kind of person she was/is, so I knew she could overcome and rise above it. I’ve just tried to be there for her really, but I don’t ever see her as just having an illness, she was my friend before the illness and she will still be for the foreseeable future. She’s dealing with it in her own unique way, by writing an amazing blog (100 days of Mimi) about her day to day life and how she copes with her illness. Everyone has a journey to walk in this life, that journey will lead to a destination, so make every step count with whatever life throws at you.
Close Friend. Female, 21, Stirling - Scotland
From a man's perspective with no personal experience of mental illness, and from the experiences of those around me, i.e my girlfriend, my grandpa, it's a terrifying thing.
My grandpa has dementia, it is one he has only developed in recent years. He gets confused about circumstances involving time and family, and isn't always present, its scary to think that one day I might end up the same way, somewhat losing who you are, losing connections to those around you.
With my girlfriend, I had seen that she wasn't taken seriously by some of her doctors whether it was through botched appointments, not giving vital medication or just general uninformed judgment of her manner. Where-as if she had a physical symptom, it would have been taken much more seriously. She has had to go through a lot more stress than needed because of incompetent or just plain unsympathetic staff, and that has to change.
I would like for those with mental illness to receive a lot better treatment, not just in terms of medication, but with how they are approached, be mindful of their condition and treat them as the person they are rather than what their illness is.
This blog is/was an incredibly brave and personal thing to do, it is a window into her thoughts, her feelings, her fears, her hopes for the future. She lays it all out for all people to read, not many people could do that, all while encouraging others to strive for better, whether its an unhappy situation, their own mental illness, or just to try something new. It is no easy task to be that honest with people online for 100 posts, especially when they’re going through issues of their own. I am sure it has helped a lot of people either come to grips with their illness or see what it is like for someone who does suffer from one.
Ex-partner. Male, 23, Glasgow - Scotland
As a person who doesn't have any mental health issues, that I am aware of, it feels a tad weird to even have a say on it, but as someone who has very close friends who deal with it themselves, I've learned a few things through them.
First and foremost don't ever talk over them on the issues they are dealing with, just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You as an ally need to realize that it's great to raise awareness but you should listen too, be willing to learn about new things when it comes to the topic itself.
Secondly, don't use ablest slurs in general, just because you are able bodied and someone else around you looks able bodied too doesn't mean they are. Some disabilities cannot be seen by your naked eye but it doesn't mean they don't exist.
Thirdly if you don't understand something related to mental health issues just ask, don't make it into a guessing game or pretend you know everything on the topic, cause most likely than not you will slip and accidentally hurt the person you wanted to help. Yes I know everything I've said is very generalized and calling it 'mental health issues' doesn't do it justice but because it is such a broad subject I wanted to give you an opinion as an ally so that if you guys want to support them as allies then you know how to start. Remember it's okay to make mistakes, heck I make mistakes even now, but always apologize, if someone calls you out for being insensitive or being ablest then thoroughly apologize and don't make the same mistake again.
Close Friend. Female, 19, Kent – England.
Check back at 9pm UK Time this evening for PART TWO!