I honestly think we should all show awareness of mental health no matter what day, week, month or year it is. It comes in various forms and most of the time you don’t even know about it, even if you’re going through it. I’ve been going through it for years, and to be honest I’ve had it for so long that I’m almost used to it and know how to deal with, it’s just part of my life. It may be sad to some, but it’s what makes me who I am. I’ve been through quite a bit but I still think there are always others that have gone through so much more than me. Some have lives so bad that they feel that they don’t want to be around any more, and others just get it on certain days when something affects them in some way and I hate to think anyone suffering like this, it’s nice to be kind to each other.
It’s a taboo subject and I’m not sure why, I think people are talking about it more now but I remember when I was going through it the first time it wasn’t talked about much but that was 1993 and my go-to therapy at the time was listening to Prince through my walkman whilst trying to dance. Oh and writing, but back then it was all hand written (writers cramp pain) in the latest notebook that I’d bought from Woolworths before the days of Paperchase!
It’s an invisible illness, there are many illness and disabilities that are invisible and sometimes those going through it would rather keep it to themselves. I do know that some of these are just unthinkable and I couldn’t imagine going through any of them and it is also worryingly common. People so bad they’re unable to walk, have a conversation or even not wanting to leave the house. When you see someone and they don’t look happy and you think to yourself oh they’re having a bad day, it might not just be a bad day it could be a lot worse. I try to smile at people when I see them, because it’s polite and I know I sometimes have a bad day but I like to think that the next person that is having a much worse day than me now feels a little bit better for seeing someone smile at them. Knowing I’ve done that gives me a boost, because I love to think that I can make others happy and help them. Is it unusual for someone who suffers with depression who wants to be able to make others happy? Who knows, but it’s the way I do it, if you’re having a bad day the worst thing to do is be sad because that dictates your mood the rest of the day.
Unfortunately there are days when I don’t feel like making anyone feel better, I just want to curl up and cry, stay in bed or even just walk around in my pyjamas doing nothing but eating chocolate and drinking comforting drinks, probably hot chocolate! I do try and push past them, because I know that when I do have days like that it makes me feel ten times worse, and I know full well that if I get up and do something like exercise I actually feel better in myself and I can end up actually feeling quite positive and even somewhat productive!
I wanted to wait till later in the week before I did my blog, because I wanted to read fellow bloggers posts on mental health. Mainly because maybe I wondered if there was someone out there that will say something that will either help me or make me realise are better way of coping or even show them support or encouragement in anyway.
I do feel like an old hand at this depression lark, I was sixteen years old when it started. Being bullied at school and was a trigger that started to make me feel quite negative. I now look at old pictures of myself as a teenager and cry, because I can see the pain in my eyes even though I’m smiling and laughing and I really wish I could go back to myself and tell me how I can change things. I remember going to the GP with my mum, she’d wanted to help me but she hadn’t known what to do to help. She just wanted to make my life better, and she did but my attitude stunk mainly because I was a teenager but I was depressed. I hid it to everyone else, and it makes me cry realising that actually my mum was suffering because she didn’t want to see me like it. She knew exactly what I was going through and it must’ve been so upsetting for her to see her own daughter going through this. I can not even imagine what that felt like.
I can never tell the next person how to deal with their depression and anxiety because every single person is different, so so so different. I know it sounds like I’m generalising but I came to the realisation that most men didn’t talk about their feelings, until recently thanks to social media and the younger generation. Mental health issues covers so much, I think of a handful of my friends and family I honestly believe that at least 90% of them have been through some sort of MH issue. I would hate to think of them going through it, but sometimes even the toughest person goes through it.
There is a lot in the press at the moment about talking about it, but I personally don’t agree that talking about it works for me. I have found that focusing and using my negative energy on other things like writing, listening to music or dancing/exercise has helped me but everyone is different. I’m actually holding back the tears at the moment writing this, because this is almost like talking about it and talking about it for me makes it worse. It’s almost like I don’t like to think about it, and I know lots of people would say ‘don’t let it build up’ but that’s just the way I deal with things. When I have a bad day I actually find that going for a run or walk in the fresh air with the music blaring in my ears is the best form of medicine for me, but like I say, every person is different.
I wish everyone had an outlet of some description like this that would help them, because life would be a lot better to deal with, the every day little things that feel ten times worse than what they actually are. When I wake up in the mornings 90% of the time I wake in a good mood, unless him-in-doors wakes me by slamming drawers or the son comes running in shouting “quick dive!” jumping on the bed. But the first thing I do when one of these things happen is try and quickly turn my mood around by thinking to myself, ‘but I’ve got a husband and son that both love me and that’s all I ever wanted, a family that love me unconditionally’. Yes, I know, they can be a pain in the arse at times, but no life is perfect is it?
The worse days is when bad things after bad things keep happening, more recently one particular day in lockdown was the worst day I’d had for a long time. I woke and felt relatively content, I sat up in bed and that’s when the pain in my back started and that put me in a bad mood straight away. So I get up and try and do some stretches but this time it didn’t make any difference, sometimes it does sometimes it doesn’t but this particular morning I decided that a hot shower might help perk me up. I got in the shower and stepped on one of Williams bath toys, I instantly tensed my whole body in pain. I was annoyed at William but then it turned to anger against my husband because he had been the one that had bathed him the night before so hadn’t put the toys away like I do after I’ve bathed him.
I came out of the bathroom not bothered about showering and put my comfys back on and started to feel like the day was pointless, but I had to keep going because I didn’t have a choice. Because of Covid and husband and I were working from home plus William was home from preschool still and I had felt like I was on a rollercoaster that didn’t stop. Husband started work at seven o’clock in the morning and worked till two o’clock in the afternoon which is when I started work, I was grateful I was part time and that both our bosses were extremely flexible so we were able to work around childcare but it was bloody tiring. I felt like I started work the minute I woke to the minute I went to bed, it hadn’t helped that William didn’t want to do anything by himself. I actually think that he might have been going through some sort of mental health issues over lockdown, he was really struggling with not being able to see his friends at preschool and his grandparents. I was struggling not seeing anyone so I completely understood that, but still every weekend he would say “are we allowed to see grandma and grandad yet?” It was heartbreaking, and I held back the tears every time he asked.
Then on top of all that his feelings came out in anger, and that’s when he started to hit both of us. It was awful, but thanks to the support from other mums online and my mum we got through it. I was crying every day and every time I couldn’t see a way out, I never thought he’d ever stop doing it. It even got to the point that he was just doing it to me and not my husband, I’m not sure why or how but he seemed to stop hitting Mike. It wasn’t until he went back to preschool it almost stopped, he was still doing it but not as much as he had been. I was quite open about it and managed to talk to the preschool, and they were so helpful.
I had called one of the members of staff there, Lisa, she was incredibly supportive. She was also a mum and had experience of boys, I stood my ground and told William that he wouldn’t go to preschool if he was going to be naughty and hit mummy. I took a complete gamble, because he could’ve said “ok mummy I won’t go!” But he didn’t, he actually then hit me. So I picked up my phone and pretended to call Lisa, and pretended to call her having a conversation telling her that William had been naughty and wouldn’t be coming to preschool the next day. His face was a picture, he looked absolutely devastated.
From that moment he was a complete angel, helping me clear away the dishes after dinner. Getting himself ready for bed (which was normally a struggle), and that night I emailed Leanne and told her all that had happened. The next morning he came into to me with a sad look, “am I really not going to preschool today?” I smiled and said, “William you were a good boy and you helped me last night and did everything I asked so yes, you can go.” The biggest smile spread across his face and he jumped up and down. “BUT if you hit me again, I will tell them at preschool what you’re doing.”
He almost skipped into preschool, and apparently half way through the morning Lisa had said to him, “Oh William I’m glad to see you here today, I wouldn’t want you to be naughty at home otherwise you can’t come here.” Now that was the making of him, her saying that to him made him realise that actually she knew and that he can’t get away with as much as he has done.
Mental health has got so much worse over lockdown, because everyone was stuck indoors with the same people 24/7. There were divorces and separations going on, an old colleague divorced her husband of seven years and someone in my family split from their partner and I’m pretty sure that lockdown had an input into that. There were people living on their own not being able to see anyone and just being by themselves all the time, I can’t imagine what that must’ve been like.
When I (sometimes) went for a morning run or walk I would see so many boxes filled with empty alcohol bottles and I was one of those guilty so I shall own up to that. I went through a phase of going through 2-3 bottles of wine a week (just myself) soI can imagine how easy it would be for anyone else to consume more than that. There was many overflowing cardboard bins which told me that people were doing retail therapy, me too! People were loosing their jobs and ‘furlough’ was a word that had been added to our vocabulary, weddings and funerals were note taking place and birthdays were being put on hold or cancelled. Don’t get me started on Christmas, although mine ended up ok and it was just the three of us.
Thinking towards the future generations, I hope that we can build a good rapport with mental health issues and have many places where many can get support and knowledge to get through this. I would like to think that when William and all his friends are adults that things won’t be like this, but I have a horrible feeling that there will be something new that will affect their mental health. There you go again Annabel, being negative!
Let’s all just take a moment, close our eyes and think about those others who need support, that friend who lives on their own or that friend that you’ve not heard from in a while. Because although you’re having a bad day and it feels like you’re world is crumbling around you, there is always someone out there going through the same or even worse.