Mental Health Awareness Week 2017


I couldn't enjoy last Summer. I just couldn't. Days where I should've been out with friends, enjoying the most of the unusually warm weather, were spent holed up in my bedroom alone. My favourite time of year had turned into a time where all I wanted to do was either cry into my mums armpit or rip someones head off. Feelings of rage and despair would alternate with each coming day and I was convinced that that's just how things were gonna be from then on.

It was a very low point, it made me doubt everything in my life and after dropping out of university, the only goal I had was to survive. Survive with a perpetual cloud of rain following me everywhere, with the weight I would pile on and then lose just as quick, with the strain it put on my relationship with my family. Suddenly I became my own worst enemy, and I'd take it out on pretty much anyone I encountered.

And even though I talked and talked to everyone, literally anyone who would listen, I was still convinced no one cared. No one believed me and I was just begging for attention. Even now, writing this, I have a little niggle in the back of my mind telling me not to publish this - someone will say I'm crying out for attention and being pathetic. Or that I need to grow up and get a pair of balls. And despite the amount of support and love I receive on a daily basis I still know that when all is said and done, no one wants to have to care.

Think of it this way. You've had a really bad cold for two weeks and you can't remember the last time you could breathe out of your nose. You say to yourself that next time you can breathe out of your nose you're going to really appreciate it - only you end up forgetting about saying that so you don't think about how you miss breathing from your nose till you can't again. Depression is exactly that but you can never breathe out of your nose, and you're walking further and further away from being able to remember how to do it again.

And it's not breathing out of your nose that you miss - it's being able to go downstairs and sit with your family without thinking they all hate you, or that they're leaving you out. It's avoiding that situation every day because you know you'd end up having to run upstairs to ball your eyes out again. When you've balled your eyes out the rage kicks in because you realise how stupid you're being. You can't change that though because your brain becomes a separate entity.

My personality was pushed away into a small room in my mind. It would sometimes creep out and manage to fight a day back in its rightful place, but something small would happen like having to talk to someone in a shop and stumbling - and my personality was locked back in the room and the clouds formed over my head again.

Striving for normality is a very desperate thing. I felt as though I was clutching at anything that made me feel like I had felt in the past year, but holding onto memories soon turned sour and I felt like looking back just surrounded me in toxicity. So if I couldn't look back on my memories and try to feel normal, I quickly began to learn that I would need to redefine what it meant for me. How could I push myself to feel normal (nothing else, I wasn't wishing for happiness or anything) when it felt like my whole world had been turned on its head?

Gently and slowly I tried spending more time outside of the house, starting my job back at LEGO helped me massively, too. I was in a familiar environment with familiar people and I always knew there was someone there I could lean on. I'll forever be grateful for the people I met working there. My friends helped more than they'll ever be able to imagine too - and of course my family went above and beyond to make me feel like everything was fine. I told my mum to tell everyone to shout at me and make me do mundane things like wash the dishes - anything that would make me feel like I had always been at home and the past year never happened.

Running away like that wasn't for the best though, I've ended up with an entire year of my life suppressed and I probably wouldn't be able to tell you much about 2015/6 without having major blackouts in memory. However it helped me in the moment so I'm not going to pretend like it didn't, I will say though that if you're going through something similar - it isn't the best way around things.

Summer is coming, it's getting warmer and I'm loving it. I feel more content, happier and a lot more rested this year. Things aren't 100%, I still get episodes where all I want to do is lock myself away and not speak to anyone and my low mood kicks in. The low mood is a lot less intense now though, I like to think I've managed to refine it so I'm able to focus the attention on one particular thing. Coping is one of the hardest things to do with depression, it can be gruelling and tiring and I wanted to give up countless times.

This week is Mental Health Awareness week. I wanted to write a post about it because I'll never not speak about it. Not only was it a defining moment for me (the depression didn't define me, my strength - even when I had very little, defined me), but it's something we must be more open about. Mental Health in the UK is perhaps at it's lowest point, there's more people with difficulties than there are healthy.

But for once I didn't want to focus on how I'm getting better now, or try tell whoever is reading this that it gets better. I wanted to be raw and try give a little glimpse into how my mind worked when I was at my worst, it is a glimpse too - because a lot more was going on in my head other than what I've talked about here.

Mental health isn't what you see on the internet. It isn't the romantic tumblr posts and quotes you see, it isn't the feeling sad and assuming you have depression without bothering to be diagnosed. It's painful, it's dangerous, it's exhausting and it's ultimately not you. Don't read a post on the internet, decide you relate to it and run with it. If you really think you aren't feeling 100% mentally - see someone. It isn't trendy to have depression, or any other illness for that matter.

Finally I'd like to say thank you. To my mum, my auntie Deb, dad, James and uncle Howard; who were my foundation and kept me grounded. They took the piss out of me and made me feel like I could feel normal again. To Ellie; for understanding that I needed help and helping me find it, and for still pushing me to be a fucking weirdo even if I wanted to die. To Isobelle, Scarlett and Maddison; who pulled me out of my low mood and forced alcohol down my throat and danced with me for hours. To everyone who I've ever worked with at LEGO; you all made being at work feel like I was spending time with friends, and like I was around people who understood me at any stage of my illness. To my Canterbury family - Christy, Janine and Beth; for taking me under your wings and making me feel like I was at home (and for cooking for me lol). Finally to my bestest friend in the whole wide world, James (boyfriend not brother); for understanding that I aren't mad at you, I'm mad at me. And for being there for me when I needed to panic and be alone - but alone with you.

This was a long one, and admittedly quite cringe towards the end. And as incoherent as it may seem, it's good to get it all out there and again, I'll never not talk about it. There's posts aplenty on this blog about how I coped and got over my illness, so have a look around if you're interested! Thank you for reading this (I'm nervous about posting it because it is just a splurge of words and it's probably one of my most personal posts).

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