Tag: SB4MH

Mental Health Matters #3

It was my birthday back in November and I’d booked the day off work. What actually happened was I ended up having two weeks off courtesy of my doctor after I phoned her in a terrible state.

Winter has kicked my butt big time. The dark and the cold has done nothing to help my mood. October brought with it a lot of memories of a tricky time in my childhood, and it left me feeling like a little girl again. I was a little girl with a child of her own to look after though and I didn’t really know where to turn. For the first time in a long time I wanted my Mum, and as someone who does a very good job at glossing over just how hard her death was for me, wanting her in itself was a struggle.

After I got off the phone to my doctor I felt like I needed to tell Bakji what had been discussed. The time off work, the medication, my overall low mood and extreme lack of motivation. I was so worried though, I didn’t want to feel bad again for needing that time and the pharmaceutical involvement to feel functional. I didn’t want it to be about him either, I dreaded having to apologise for my brain failings and I didn’t want to have navigate his disappointment in me.

For the first time ever though someone responded in a way that helped me. Even writingIMG_7083.JPG that sentence makes me feel guilty. My mum was amazing in so many ways, and my ex-husband is a wonderful man, so pointing out that they didn’t get it right when it comes to this topic is really hard.

What Bakji did different though was trust me. He trusted me to know that taking the medication was right for me, and he offered affection and support when I needed it most. Which means that I am still successfully taking the medication I am prescribed, making this my longest stint ever on antidepressants and the positive outcomes have been huge for me.

I have for as long as I can remember suffered from bad dreams. These range from just being unpleasant, to being real mind-fucks and at the extreme end can be night terrors, lucid nightmares and sleep paralysis. I won’t go into to details but in the worst of these cases I know I’m stuck in a nightmare, I can’t wake myself up to escape and I can’t move because of the sleep paralysis, but I’m aware enough to know I want to both wake up and move. I’m 33 and spent a large portion of last year sleeping with the light on due to these being so frequent that bedtime became quite scary.

When I started taking the Sertraline prescribed to me I noticed a couple of things that I took note of as possible positive side effects. Firstly I felt calmer when it came to bedtime and turning the light of not only became possible but welcomed. Then when I was asleep the more extreme nightmares had eased off incredibly. I still get a decent amount of mind-fuck dreams, which quite honestly are unpleasant, but a walk in the park compared to the other ones.

For the longest time no one has been able to offer any real clarity on why I have those kind of nightmares. I am now wondering if I’d just stuck with taking the medication all those years back then perhaps I could have saved myself from a lifetime of horrendous nightmares.

Some of the thoughts I had when I was prescribed antidepressants this time round were; ‘I don’t want to be dependent on medication to be happy’, ‘what will people say if they find out’ and ‘who am I going to disappoint this time’. Now I have lifted out of my fog a little my responses to those thoughts are very different. For a start I’m too old to give a fuck about what other people think about me looking after myself. If someone is disappointed in me for having out of whack brain chemicals, well they can deal with that issue themselves. As for being dependent on medication, I am honestly really glad it’s there for me to lean on right now. There is nothing else I or anyone else can do to change what is happening in my brain, but medication can help and that is such a relief.

I’m not saying the Sertraline has been a cure all. I do have to do other things to support my mental well-being. Exercise, healthy eating and supplements are a big part of that. I know I still have areas to address. I have things I probably should talk to a professional about, but I don’t even know where to being with unravelling those topics. If I’m totally honest I don’t know if I’m ready or able to open up about them either. They have been in my minds periphery while I’ve been writing these posts, and it has hurt just to acknowledge their small intrusion into my thoughts.

IMG_7082Medication for depression, anxiety and/or a whole host of other mental health disorders may not be the right path for everyone and I am by no means endorsing the brand of medication I am taking. Too many people suffer in silence though, due to not only the stigma of having mental health issues to begin with, but by being strong enough to seek help and take medication or attend counselling where needed. This post is another step towards me doing my bit to break the silence.

If you would like to read more posts from sex bloggers who write about mental health then Sassy Cat has compiled a wonderful list in her post ‘Sex Bloggers for Mental Health’. You can also follow #sb4mh on Twitter.

Mental Health Matters #2

In my last post I discussed the first time I was prescribed medication for depression. The seconded time I visited the doctor about this matter, it was anxiety that was the centre of the discussion, though for me the two are always interlinked.

IMG_6921.JPGI was 22 when I went to the doctor about feeling overwhelmed by my struggle to sleep and my constant worries about leaving the house for work. When I explained my sleeping patterns to the doctor and how long that had been part of my life, I discovered I’d been suffering the effects of anxiety for all of my adult life. It was my ‘normal’ though and I had never questioned it until it had started to affect my daily life.

The doctor said I had ‘high functioning anxiety’ and since that day I’ve always accepted that as true. Especially once I found some information on typical behaviours of people who suffer from this. Even now if I type high functioning anxiety into google I recognise myself in virtually any of the articles I click on. All these years on I can also see how unhealthy many of the behaviours associated with this are, and I feel a little bit sad that they just became a part of me. I find it hard to believe that it is possible for me to undo some of these behaviours. They feel far too deep routed for me to be able to untangle them from who I am without them.

Once again I was prescribed medication. Once again I felt guilty for this being my reality. My mum was still reeling from the fact I was someone who struggled with my mental well being. She was disappointed that to her mind this was the reason I’d left college and never achieved being a university graduate like she had hoped. It was thought that  I’d be the first in our family to go, and my not doing that seemed to be a big regret for her.

I think what held me back in life though wasn’t the depression or the anxiety, it was not treating those things with the care they needed. I think many things would have been different for me if I’d followed through on that first prescription for antidepressants and if I’d completed the counselling sessions as suggested by my doctor.

This second experience of discussing my brain niggles involved my now ex-husband, who was my fiance at the time. He was baffled as to how I could be depressed or anxious. Did I not love him? Was our life not a good one? What had he done wrong? Again my mental state was about someone else.

I felt like an awful person for bringing this onto the people I loved, for hurting themIMG_6919.JPG because my stupid brain was a mess. I wanted so badly to just ‘feel normal’, yet no one seemed to see that for that to happen I needed the medication, even if only for a little while. I understand now, even if I didn’t then, that those feelings were and still are part of my anxiety.

I became embarrassed to leave my tablets anywhere, or to be seen taking them. They felt like an elephant in the room at all times. I hated having to explain why I was going to the doctor, or having to share even the smallest of side-effects with those around me. Which meant that I took the same route as before and I just stopped taking the tablets. It seemed to make everyone else happier that I didn’t them and no one ever seemed to notice that I was never quite 100% in terms of mental well being.

IMG_6920.JPGEven now as I’m writing this I’m asking myself ‘how bad could it really have been’. I know that for some people not taking that medication would have been extremely detrimental to their safety and could have had a much more severe effect on their life. That thinking though is why I decided to share. Your anxiety or depression doesn’t have to be as bad as someone else’s or as bad as it could possibly ever be for you to seek help and do what you need to do to feel better.

At any given point in life there is always going to be someone who has been through someone that you or the world will perceive as ‘worse’ than your own experience. The funny thing about depression though is that it actually doesn’t give a shit about ‘worse’ or ‘better’. It doesn’t care about who has money, who is loved or who is achieving great things. Much the same as physical ailments don’t care who they descend upon either. Those pesky brain chemicals are a law unto themselves for some of us, and the world really needs to start accepting that.

Since I wrote my first post about Mental Health I have been made aware of a new hashtag on Twitter #SB4MH. The blog post from which this is originates is ‘Sex Bloggers for Mental Health’ by Sassy Cat. Strangely I still feel like an imposter in this conversation. Somewhere inside of me is still that niggling thought that my story isn’t as valid as other people’s. I’m committed to using my voice to join others in trying to destigmatise mental illness, no matter where someone may fall on that spectrum. So please do go and visit her blog and follow her links to all the other wonderful sex bloggers sharing their own experiences with mental health.