October 10 is the World Mental Health Day. This day is to fight social stigma around mental health, educate on the subject and create awareness.
As the 1 in 4 who struggle with mental health I appreciate this day. When I was young (and stupid) I really didn’t get mental health issues. I thought they all can be fixed and that half of them, at least, were just «in your head». Well, they are, but not like all you have to do is change your mindset.
That was all about to change…
For up until 5 years ago I thought I was fine. I thought is was normal to feel worthless on a daily basis and that it was «just a bad day». It never occurred to me that a bad day shouldn’t last for years. And in the end I could barely get up in the morning. I was sooo tired, and I just did not give a rats ass about showing up for work. What was the point. People would just be relieved that I wasn’t there. I sucked and my work sucked, too. Nothing I ever did was good enough. That is actually a feeling that has been with me as long as I can remember. And it still is.
This was the start of my one-year sick leave and me going regularly to a psychologist. My husband (thank God for him or else I would be lost) told me to call in sick one morning and then get an appointment for the doctor. That is all he said but I knew all to well what he meant but I kinda refused to accept it. I needed help. I was going in an downward spiral and it was out of control. So I did call in sick and I did go to the doctor. The visit ended in me crying uncontrollably and I didn’t know why. I was sad and empty and felt like I was wasting her time. All I did was cry when I was alone. The doctor was a tremendous help and she helped me get accepted to a clinic so I could see a psychologist. It was a few months before I got an answer but luckily I got a sick leave for that period. And it felt so good not to soldier through the day at work, feeling useless and stupid. I was exhausted from doing that for months and months. I took my parent’s dog for walks along the river, it was so calming in so many ways.
I finally got an appointment to the psychologist. The shrink. The person who sees straight through you and know all about you. At first I felt like a nut job, like «really? Am I one of those crazy persons..?» Going to a shrink. Because I’m fucked up, apparently. I had to deal with my own prejudices against the kind of people who needs help in that way. At the same time I knew it was either that or suicide. I never had any suicidal thoughts back then but I was scared of where I would end if I didn’t get any help with all the dark feelings. I had gone from thinking suicide was out of the question to understanding why people commit it, and thinking that it was not a bad solution. I knew that was not a good sign. So I went to see the psychologist and I was soooo nervous. First of all, I had to open up and talk. I have a hard time doing that in general, always had. And then not knowing what I would meet, what I had to do. The first sessions were just me filling out some forms and answering questions. And crying and crying and crying.
The result was that I was diagnosed with depression and social anxiety. I also get panic attacks from time to time. It took about a year and me starting on meds to try to get my imbalance in the brain back on track. So I was like «ok, apparently I have social anxiety. That explains a lot.» Because I have always been tense around people. Especially at school. I never had any friends in my class because I was the extremely quiet one. I was good at school but I was invisible. And that made me feel worthless and I always wondered what was wrong with me. And that triggered my anxiety even more. Ok, another one of those spirals. I managed to get back to work and things were good. For a while. It took about 2 years and then I was back at square one. Hated my job, hated myself and cried at every possibility I had. Once I cried because the doctor wasn’t in when I called. And I felt so stupid and childish crying over such a silly thing. This time the darkness got a tad worse. I started thinking about harming myself to create a distraction from the pain inside. I was thinking I could just lock myself in the toilet, pull down my pants and take my knife (as a painter I have a knife on me) and just slice up my thigh. Nobody would even see that. But oh, wait… I have a husband. What would happen if he saw that? So once again, he saved me (without even knowing it). I actually thought about how to end it all, too, I made a little plan for how I wanted to do it just in case. I had to go back to the doctor and cry. I didn’t want to cry but I couldn’t control it. And again she got me into the clinic and I started all over again. Questions and forms and tears.
This time I was diagnosed with a personality disorder, anxious/evasive. I also was told that I am paranoid and that I have social phobia more than social anxiety. And a little dash of depression, of course. A nice little cocktail. The paranoid part is because I have a really hard time trusting people. I never really open up for others because I don’t want to give them anything they can use against me. I always assume people are out to get me in some way, and I’ve always felt it safest to not show or tell people how I really feel because then they can never hurt me. They would never know which buttons to push to make me hurt, or sad. I’ve built this really hard shield around me and it is so hard to break down. Even my husband has suffered from me blocking him out, because of all people I wouldn’t want him to hurt me. I still work on letting my guard down but God damn, it is hard! As long as I can remember that has been my strategy and changing it is nearly impossible. I really don’t know how to do it. I just can’t open up for no reason.
So all of this has taught me so much about myself, and also about mental health problems. It should not be such a social stigma attached to it! Nobody chooses mental health problems – believe me! And knowing that one can ever be free from them, you only learn to live with them, makes it even more of a thing that should not be taken lightly.
What I have learned is that depression truly is a dark demon to fight. You constantly have this voice in your head telling you you’re no good, nobody cares about you and that to be free you have to die.
People who commit suicide don’t do it on their own free will. They think they have to because there is no other way.
Ask any person if they want to die, they all will say no. Even persons who kill themselves want to live but the darkness is telling them otherwise. This I know after being there myself. I was convinced that life would never be good again, and that people around me would just shrug at the news of me being dead. They wouldn’t even miss me. It was the truth of the day. Deep down I knew that my parents and my sisters, my grandma, my husband love me but at the same time I didn’t truly believe it. That is just batshit crazy. Of course they do. And they would be devastated if I ended my life. Like I would be if any of them did the same. It would haunt me for the rest of my life.
I still battle my demons from time to time but I’m doing good now. I’m dealing with my mental health on a daily basis but now I know why I feel like I feel and think like I think. I can combat it by redirecting my thoughts, or just dealing with right there and then. Oncoming panic attack? Well, I am not going to die after all, its just going to be a little unpleasant for a little while. And I know when to ask for help if it ever gets dark again. Lets just hope that it won’t.
And guys, don’t be afraid to talk to anyone you might suspect is suffering. Ask stupid questions, ask how they are doing, give them a smile. It might do wonders! Don’t be afraid to ask, we don’t expect you to know all about mental health problems. We don’t even know.
And to you who struggle; please reach out to someone! Anyone! Don’t go through all of this alone, you don’t have to. There is always someone who cares. Always.
❤ ❤ ❤