Showing posts with label Mental Health. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mental Health. Show all posts

Monday, 6 August 2012

The emotional me

I've been sat here faced with a blank screen as I don't what what to say.  I've had an emotional day and emotions are the one thing I find really difficult to talk about.  It's quite ironic really as I work in mental health and spend most of my time asking others how they feel, but I can't talk about myself.  I know it's not healthy to keep everything in (I tell my clients that all the time) but I'm supposed to be the strong one; the one that everyone else can rely on when there's a problem.  I don't really know why as I don't think that I cope with problems very well.  So I apologise if this post is a bit disjointed, I just hope it makes some sense.

I found out today that a good friend is seriously ill.  So ill that the outcome isn't looking very good.  I don't want to focus on her too much as I don't think it's fair for me to discuss her illness but I just wanted to explain what has brought me to this point.  Hearing something like that starts putting everything into perspective.  All the small things that I worry about seem trivial in relation to what her family is going through and my heart totally goes out to them.  I spent my afternoon in work trying not to cry and wondering what I can do to help.  I wanted someone to come and tell me what to do; I didn't want to be strong any more.

Before I found out about my friend I had been feeling very low and unable to control my feelings.  I have tried to snap myself out of it but that isn't very easy when you feel stuck.  My husband has tried to understand but he lost patience with me by the end of the week.  I've got three young children and I need to look after them, though I've been fine with that.  The children are an excellent distraction and catering to their every whim has given me some purpose.  It's when I sit down after my busy day with them and start to dwell on things that aren't going right at the moment.  Some of it is normal stuff - lack of money, concerns about my job, arguments with my husband.  All the normal day to day issues that I think cause a lot of people anxiety and worry at times.  But over the last week I have felt like everything is against me.  In a world surrounded by people I have felt very alone.

I've been trying to do some self reflection and I know that I'm a bit of a control freak and I wonder if this is my downfall.  I wonder if I put too much pressure on myself to do everything and whether I should ask for more help at times.  After all, I am extremely lucky in that I have a very supportive family and some great friends, but I always feel the need to put on a front of being totally capable.  I want to be a supermum to my three boys, great in my two jobs, while running my house and being a good wife and friend.  I want to be able to support all my friends and family with everything they need.  I want it all.  I am mostly cool, calm and collected and able to make decisions and deal with problems.  On the outside at least.  Underneath I feel that that swan; seemingly confident and calm but furiously paddling away below the surface.

I worry about silly things.  I over analyse everything.  I take things personally and am afraid of upsetting anyone.  Yet I've been called an 'ice-queen' and a 'hard bitch'.  Probably because I'm afraid to show how I feel.  I'm afraid to let my guard down.  I'm afraid of getting hurt.  I see a facebook comment and wonder if it's aimed at me.  I feel ignored a lot.  That makes me feel worthless.  I wish I didn't feel any of this.

I wonder what I can do to be better.  To not be afraid and not to worry about what people think.  Surely all that should matter is that my boys are happy and healthy (though that's another massive worry on its own!)

I'm struggling where to go from here.  I want life to be like a Disney movie where there is always a happy ending.  Something deep within me really wants to write that I feel much better now and life is good.  Even I know that it's not that easy.  So I'm going to leave it at that, despite my urge to write some sort of conclusion.  That's it.  For now at least.

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Can we talk about mental health?

I sometimes wonder what it would to like to wake up in the morning and not be afraid of anything.  To be so confident and self assured that nothing that can stop me.  Totally free from the psychological shackles that sometimes stop me in my tracks.  When did I start being afraid of so much?  I'm sure I wasn't like this when I was younger.  Or was it just different fears then?  Fear that I had lipstick on my teeth, or that my boyfriend was going to dump me.

All this has started today because I've been feeling ill.  Anyone who has read my post about my phobia will know that I'm afraid of being sick.  The last few days I've been feeling really ill and started panicking about being sick.  I know I'm not as bad as I used to be but it still worried me.  The problem is that the worry seems to spiral and I project the fear into every other aspect of my life.  I can go rapidly from worrying that my children are now going to be ill too, to stressing about my finances, to deciding I've got a serious illness (I can be a bit of a hypochondriac).  I wonder if I'm good enough; I replay conversations in my head and worry that I've said the wrong thing to someone, or that I was too loud, or too quiet.... the list goes on.

I wouldn't say that I appear to be a worrier to other people.  I think that most people see me as being quite confident, and I've even been called 'hard' by a certain member of my family.  I've always believed in self-fulfilling prophecies, in that if you tell yourself something enough, or if you act a certain way for long enough, then you eventually become that way, but even though I may look that way on the outside, it doesn't reflect how I'm feeling on the inside.  Though, I am confident in certain situations.  I've worked in my day job for so long that not a lot bothers me.  I still don't like confrontation, and being a manager it's something I can't always avoid.  If there's something I've got to deal with in work I go through all possible variations of the conversation before it actually happens.  I do my own head in.

As I work in mental health I'm more than aware of the physical effects that anxiety can cause.  I get palpitations sometimes, and recently I'm sure I brought on visual problems because of stress.  I got to the point where I convinced myself that I was either a) going blind b) had glaucoma or c) had a brain tumour!  I had constant migraines and I could barely see out of one eye.  I eventually went to an optician and it was only when he told me that there were no signs of any problems or diseases that I relaxed a bit and all the symptoms subsided.  The effect that stress can have on the body is amazing.  Sometimes we don't even realised that we are stressed because we keep so much in.  I think it's a British thing.  We're expected to be able to just get on with it, whatever is happening in our lives.

Do you ever get that feeling where you feel so much emotion that you think you're going to burst?  But most of the time we keep it contained because it's not the done thing to show our feelings.  If someone is having therapy for whatever problem, then they must have something wrong in the head.  Anything to do with mental health is still such a taboo subject.  Have you ever thought that if it wasn't, then maybe not so many people would suffer?  If people felt they could talk about what was worrying them then maybe they could get the help they needed before they sink into that deep pit of depression.  And I'm not talking of the sort of depression that we all say we feel from time to time.  This is lying in bed, not washing, dressing, afraid to leave the house depression.  The one that separates you from the rest of the world.

The statistics surrounding mental health are unbelievable.  1 in 4 people will experience some kind of mental health problem in the course of a year.  That's just in the UK.  What's shocking is that statistics show that around 10% of children have a mental health problem at any one time.  That's just scary, but something we need to be aware of.

I apologise that I've jumped around a bit in this post.  It's been very much a free-flow process and I'm just typing whatever I feel.  I don't want to go back and tidy it up, or make it more organised because I feel that defeats the purpose of the post.

What I really want to say is that we really need to talk more.  It sounds pretty basic but it's the first step to admitting how we feel, or if there's anything that's worrying us.  Keeping it in won't make it go away.  I know I'm a fine one to say this as I find it really difficult to talk about my feelings.  I hardly ever cry in front of anyone, even my husband.  It doesn't always matter who you talk to.  Sometimes I find it easier to talk to someone I don't know as I feel they're less likely to judge me.  You may find it easier to talk to someone who knows you well.  It could be in an anonymous online group,  a specialised mental health service such as Mind, or your best friend or partner.  

I'm going to stop writing now because I don't feel that there's much more I can add at the moment.  I'm aware that even though I've mentioned mental health, I've only really brushed upon it as there are many different issues and conditions that come under it.  But whether it is anxiety and depression, an eating disorder, or schizophrenia, one thing we need to do is break down the barriers and make it less of a taboo.  We are all human beings; all equal but different.  We need to start learning to accept others for who they are, not condemn because of an illness that can't be seen.  We all think we can empathise with others but have we really thought about what it would be like to live for a day in their shoes?