You’d think that by now we wouldn’t have to remind people that mental illness is unpredictable, that mental illness can and will affect someone close to you, maybe even you. You’d think that by now we could openly talk about our experiences with mental health issues, that we wouldn’t be judged or shamed.
Unfortunately that’s still not the case. The amount of people who still don’t believe that mental illness is a thing, is staggering, or those people who are sick of hearing about it, well I’m sick of suffering from it!
I’m not making it all up, I’m not just inventing anxiety, PTSD and depression because I’m bored!
At the moment I am actually in a really good place, (despite the worldwide pandemic!) mentally and physically. For the first time in a very long time I’m quite relaxed, focused and organised. There will be a time, probably in a few months when I have a relapse but I know I have the most incredibly supportive people around me to help me though it.
Most people will suffer with some form of mental illness at some point in their lives. Some will go through bouts of depression, others might have developed PTSD or anxieties, these may be present at all times, they might come and go. For those who are lucky enough for them to come and go it is important that they know how to deal with the situation and also to be aware of the symptoms when they arise.
You may have certain triggers which you might need to avoid or at least reduce, if a certain person brings your mood down can you remove them from your life? Or at least spend less time with them.
Does a particular task bring on anxiety? Is the task necessary, if its’ not then why are you doing it? if it is could you limit how long it takes or adjust how you do it.
Visiting certain places might bring on panic attacks, if so it’s probably a good idea to pace yourself. This may take longer but will be worth it in the long run. I used to panic about going to the Post Office (and sometimes still do), in order to get there I would tell myself I was just going for a walk, or drive, and not look ahead (mentally). That way I wasn’t going to the Post Office I was just walking. Then once I arrived I’d tell myself I just had to go in, nothing else. Eventually, I managed whatever I’d gone there for and it really wasn’t the huge deal I had made it into! But, your brain will make you think otherwise.
Just take things a step at a time, there’s no rush and your mental well being is more important than anything else.
Living with a mental illness is not easy, in fact it’s really f**king hard.
It can be increasingly difficult for those who don’t receive the support they need, either in their personal life or at work or school.
Your support network is super important when you’re providing self care. You need patience, understanding and a good knowledge of what this might entail.
With all of that in mind, what happens when your support network also suffer with their own mental health issues?
I live with my boyfriend and my son.
We’re not perfect, far from it, but my god do we know how to deal with mental illness. All of us at some point have suffered and dealt with depression.
There have been prolonged episodes and some shorter episodes. The shorter ones are often referred to (by us) as having, ‘sad brains’.
Chris and I let each other know when we have ‘sad brains’. We then ask what we can do, knowing the answer will most likely be, ‘nothing’ but we ask anyway. We allow each other the time and space to ride it out and after a few days we return to our default state of contentment and happiness ❤
It’s a scary time though, at least I know it is for me. Even though I know Chris isn’t going anywhere, there’s always a small part of me that does worry he’ll get fed up and leave. And that would be my anxiety… (what an arsehole.)
Luckily, we don’t tend to have ‘sad brains’ episodes at the same time. If we did I imagine we would just hide under a duvet together and just be.
The most important thing to do if you are a household of people who suffer from a mental illness, is to be open about it. The whole process will feel so much easier when you know you can just say to your partner, son, daughter etc that you’re just having an off day today, or bad day, or make up your own term for it! If you refer to it as something stupid it may help you to work past it.
“Those mischievous otters are scurrying around in my brain again today, connecting dots that don’t exist and making me think people are living in the roof…” (Genuinely something I once believed…)
(I understand this may not be possible for everyone, you can hardly tell your 18 month old to just sort their own breakfast out because you have sad brains, but hopefully there is someone to help you out. And if there isn’t please, please look for help available locally or from your GP)
Find your team, your tribe, your supporters, your network; whatever you want to call them! People you trust and love, who you can be there for and who will be there for you.
It’s a simple formula; do your best and somebody might like it. – Dorothy Baker