Friday, 20 May 2016

ME TOO

Quite honestly, I have really ummed and ahhed about writing this post as it's a sensitive topic and not one I ever talk about really. That said, I have recently read a lot about #themetoomovement and it really resonated with me.

The Me Too Movement is a social media gathering of individuals who are virtually supporting one another to raise Mental Health Awareness and encouraging others to speak up, be heard and gain more understanding about the conditions that so many people face, sometimes alone.

There seems to be a bit of a trend amongst bloggers to jump on the anxiety bandwagon and whilst I would never belittle someone for how they manage their condition, I just personally would never video something like a panic attack. For me, it almost trivialises it and if in the moment someone is able to think ooh I will video this for other people to watch, it does make me question how severe the panic attack was.

But that's just me. As I said, I'm not here to belittle anyone or be controversial.

To be honest I am not even overly sure of what exactly I am aiming to communicate in this post other than to tell people, Me Too. It's still hard for me to admit it, that over 12 months ago I was diagnosed with depression and anxiety. On the whole I actually think most people would be surprised by this revelation, I do hide it well and it's something that I work very hard on to not effect my work life and it doesn't. But it's a real shame that mental health is still such a taboo and I do feel an element of admitting to my mental health problems would make people think I am weak. Because for the record I'm not.

Where how I feel effects me tends to be within my personal life outside of work. Work is my nice routine that brings me back to reality and somewhere I am confident of my abilities. Personal life is where I am at a bit of a loss. My motivation to go be a normal human ebbs and flows, some nights and weekends I can't face the world and I basically am so tired that I will spend all day in bed. Peer pressure of appearing normal means that sometimes those weekends or evenings are interspersed with outings with friends/family/other bloggers and for the most part I'm fine, but catch me on a really bad day and I will just be desperate to leave, not to have to talk to anyone, be social or network. That, my friends, is the reality of working your way through a mental illness. I am determined to beat mine and am using all the resources available to me through my GP but I have to say I have not been blown away by the offering so far.

It amazes me that mental health issues affect so many, yet it is such a low resourced area with dwindling funding year on year. The waiting lists for CBT in Manchester are widely known to be an absolute joke and that is sad.

That said, I do think initiatives like this are brilliant as it encourages people with similar experiences to talk, share suggestions that have worked for them and dare I say it, make you feel a hell of a lot more normal.

To try and explain how I sometimes feel to people who haven't experienced chronic anxiety is so difficult and you listen to yourself and think I am really not doing this justice, it sounds trivial and maybe I am too self indulgent. Oh yes, being hard on yourself. That comes in abundance throughout all this, along with second guessing what people think, paranoia and just feeling inexplicably pants.

It can literally be as extreme as one day reading something on social media or someone being 'a bit quiet' and deciding that your friends/boyfriend/someone you are texting etc don't like you anymore. And trust me, I am well aware of how irrational that sounds, really I do, but once that thought enters my head it will, depending on how I feel, either grow to the point of getting upset and trying to seek clarification from said person that they do infact still like me, or I try and employ some of my CBT strategies and acknowledge it as just an unhelpful thought which can be dismissed to a certain degree.

The thing is, these things can be so hard to identify as just an unhelpful thought as quite often they can be misinterpreted as gut instinct and that actually you really can't possibly be wrong because it all adds up.

Quite honestly though, it is so exhausting. I've gone from being the eternal optimist to being super negative and it just isn't me. Well, it is, at the moment, but I definitely do not enjoy being a Debbie downer all the godamn time.

Writing this has been actually quite therapeutic. I suppose my aim here is to give just a small insight into what it can be like from a sufferers perspective. If your friends/family/colleagues tell you they have a mental illness then don't push them to talk. They will, when they are ready. Remind them that they can talk to you any time and just give them enough space to feel supported but also enough that they can try and make sense of things in their own head. Equally don't try and make light of things and tell them to just try and cheer up and be more positive. Because, trust me they have tried. SRSLY.

This post isn't some big effort to gain sympathy from people who know me, infact probably the very opposite. I just want to let people know, ideally people who have struggled for a while and perhaps reading through all the #metoo content as their way of trying to find out if how they are feeling is normal, and just let them know that yes, it is.

Don't be embarrassed, speak up and get the help you need. You don't have to suffer in silence and trust me when I say you will feel TONS better once someone knows. And as for you others within the me too movement. high five. You are doing great.
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