It’s Mental Health Week (or by the time that I actually get my act together and post this it may be over). Raising awareness for issues surrounding mental health is really important to me. I think one of the best ways to get rid of the ridiculous stigma is by talking about it. Some of the best therapy I have ever had is a cup of tea and someone telling me “me too.”
This week I actually had my first experience of therapy. I walked into a very warm office and was asked ‘so are you okay?’ What do you think? I am in therapy for the first time…No I just came for a chat with a stranger.
Despite it not being a wholly positive experience I did learn one thing. You know what is normal for you and just because you are not on the edge doesn’t mean that you are not going through something.
Rather than living with depression full time I go through depressive and anxious episodes. Instead of spending a week curled up, rocking in a ball I generally just feel nothing; I am not overly sad, or panicked, it is like being hollow. When you’re anxious, you can’t control your thoughts because their racing, when I’m having a depressive episode there is nothing at all.
I can’t get out of bed in the morning. Not in a ‘5 more minutes’ kind of way, in a ‘what is the point of today’ sort of way. I intentionally exclude myself or leave class or social events in the fear that I will get so irritated I will snap at someone. I physically can’t bring myself to do work. My bedroom becomes my sanctuary and completely suffocating.
I came off hormonal contraception about 5 months ago (something I wrote about). I figured if I’m crazy enough as it is I don’t need the added help of more hormones. Many women take the pill and experience none of the side effects but depression is listed as a potential by product.
I think I was disappointed in myself when I realised I can’t just pick myself up when I feel low because there is nothing triggering my mood. Like I said, sometimes the best comforts are the ‘me too’ moments. If you can’t talk to a therapist start to talk to someone close to you.
I love Ingrid Nilsen and Cat Valdes podcast ‘Ladies Who Lunch’. They cover a range of topics and both speak honestly about their experiences with depression and anxiety. They’re also really funny! When I am feeling low and not in a place where I want to talk about it listening to their experiences is really comforting. There is something to be said for hearing someone vocalise exactly how you feel at a time when you cannot.
People aren’t the same and we all have different coping mechanisms but if no one is talking about mental health, no one wins.