That’s when you need to fight it the most. I like a lot of people struggle with mental health sometimes. I’m dealing with it but I don’t talk about it often, in fact some people may find this as a surprise.
This morning I woke at 4am and couldn’t get back to sleep. I thought If I snuggled up I’d nod back off. I was wrong! As comfy as I was, and in a feather duvet I was comfy I just couldn’t switch back off. My brain was awake even if my body wasn’t ready for it. As the thoughts wurred in my brain they ended up fixating on the negatives. It’s weird what crops up but as much as I tried to block it out and reframe the negatives I couldn’t and I ended up laying there in darkness torturing myself with negative thoughts. For a while I’d been telling myself to get up, read a book, do some yoga or complete some more of my online course to distract myself. It took a while to get out of bed but I eventually did and this morning I’m choosing to put my brave face on and tackle things!
It gets to the point where all the adrenaline that has been pumping feels like it’s all sat as a pool of acid in my stomach and it feels horrendous. I hate this feeling but I get it a lot. When it happens, I can’t eat, sometimes I feel so sick I do vomit or I get stomach pains so intense I buckle over, it can then lead to headaches and before I know it I feel like I just need to lay down. At home this is manageable but when in an office environment working the 9-5 it feels like torture. You feel like you can’t tell anyone as they won’t understand, and then if you do tell someone and they show no concern the anxiety latches onto that and tells you, your being stupid and there is nothing wrong. The anxiety also tells me I deserve to suffer so I just need to shut up and deal with it. I don’t know where all these thoughts stem from as deep down I believe I am a good person with a good heart but my anxiety works against me and has done since I was a teenager. It’s like I live with two voices, the one that loves me and the one that hates me. Imagine your best friend and a bully both advising you at all times! That’s how I’d describe it, and sometimes it’s exhausting!
Now it’s not all the time, in fact sometimes the best friend takes the reins and I am very happy for a long period of time. I’m trying to work out what my triggers are but it’s early days for me trying to tackle this even though I have suffered for years. I never talked about it until recently as I was afraid of perceptions. When people hear you have voices in your head they think straight jacket and asylum! The only time I started to talk about things was after I’d split up with my long term boyfriend. It seemed I had a ‘reason’ to be upset now and have anxieties and fears I could discuss. People told me they ‘understood’, it was perfectly understandable given the circumstances. What I wanted to scream was this situation has nothing to do with how I feel in my head and this was actually easier to cope with, but I didn’t. I had a good life as a child, a brother and sister who are like best friends, amazing parents that worked hard to provide for us and also be the role models and teachers we needed. When I discuss my childhood with others I always feel so lucky to have had my childhood. My parents taught me what some people never learn in a lifetime and I will be forever grateful to them for everything. So you can see the dilemma. I had a life I should have loved but I didn’t always fully enjoy it as my brain told me I didn’t deserve it. I’m 30 now and still struggle when people do nice things for me. Treat me like shit and I can handle it but be nice and I get all weird. The anxiety tells me I don’t deserve this and beats me up for being a fraud to these people. I had friends around me that were actually suffering and struggling for real so there was no way I could speak out about “thoughts” upsetting me. I told myself I just had to get on with it.
I’m writing this now in the hope it will help! I posted a blog about mental health and was overwhelmed by the comments and feedback I received. People opened up to me and shared things they had never shared before and said it had helped them to do so. Talking about things does take away the stigma and help more people open up. So because of this I have decided to be more open to play my part in ending the stigma.
I had a conversation with a HR professional this month about Mental health Fist Aiders. Their view was that it’s a bad idea as you’ll end up with people making up problems just so they don’t have to do any work. The conversation ended there and I was too much in shock to respond however I will be speaking to this person again to share my views. I was left upset by this conversation as this is the main reason people don’t open up. People who don’t understand or have any knowledge of the subject make assumptions that make the problem worse! My advice is always, if you don’t know enough about a subject you shouldn’t have an opinion of it! And that relates to everything in life. People are just too opinionated and judgemental these days, without the understanding to be able to make informed conclusions and this is dangerous.
Sometimes when I start on the downward path a frank conversation with my sister can be all I need to get me back on track and back to normal. So a 10 minute discussion can have me right as rain and productive whereas if I had bottled this up I would battle on but probably be unproductive for a period of time or make mistakes as I have too much going on in my head to concentrate. For this reason I think Mental health First Aiders in the workplace are a fantastic idea. If you had someone to talk to, to help you get back on track not only are you benefiting but your employer is too. We’ve all heard the Richard Branson quotes about a happy workforce to know the benefits of this.
So now that I’ve got out of bed, distracted myself to quieten the bully… I am able to reframe the negatives that were bothering me and I feel loads better. I’m going to wake my boyfriend now and grab our dog for a nice long walk in the fresh air. I feel ready to take on the world and it’s challenges now.
So the message I want to get across is, DON’T SUFFER. Find ways to help yourself, have a cup of tea, talk to someone, write it down, workout, have a hot bath, go on a long walk, read a book, try something new. Do whatever you can to get through. These moments all though all consuming at the time, they soon pass if we help ourselves.
Please get in touch with any coping techniques you use as I’d love to hear about them.
If you too have suffered and this post helped please let me know by commenting below or emailing me on firstname.lastname@example.org let’s end the stigma together.