Last week was Mental Health Awareness Week, and I wanted to make a post about it. Better late than never, right?
Some of you may, or may not know that I’ve suffered with mental health issues since I was around 14. I won’t go into gritty details, because that’s not something that belongs on a public Blog post. Suffice to say, it’s been an ongoing battle for me that comes and goes as it feels.
I suffer from bouts of depression,. Sometimes it’s only mild, others it’s moments of feeling suicidal, intense anger, frustration, uncontrollable fits of crying, and moments of euphoria/mania. Sometimes I can be “normal” for days, weeks, months, even years, but eventually something happens to trigger it again, and I can spiral quickly into being almost unrecognisable in personality. I can withdraw into myself completely, or lash out at people verbally (and yes in some cases physically, I’m ashamed to say). For those people who have never experienced it, it can be quite worrying or in some cases terrifying when I go into full meltdown, as I’ll either ignore everyone and everything, or make the world around me burn. Sometimes I can hide this, depending on the severity of the episode. Other times it’s quite apparent. If you know me, and think “that’s weird I never knew this”, then don’t feel that I’ve shut you out – I’m simply trying to protect you from it.
One of the most difficult things I have to cope with is not actually directly related to depression, schizophrenia or any other mental illness. I have an “ability” to “read” people’s feelings. It’s not an X-Men style super power, so it’ll never make me famous (or a member of the X-Men), but it is heightened when I’m hit by bouts of depression. If I’m feeling particularly negative, this can have a MASSIVE effect on me. I’ll pick up on something someone says or does, then analyze it over and over and over, till I can’t sleep for thinking about it. I’ll get irrational, irritable and can rapidly spiral out of control. So far, I’ve managed to eventually drag myself out of these bouts (admittedly once I was hospitalised), but there is always another one around the corner, just waiting.
I also suffer from Diverticular Disease, gall stones, Kidney stones and I have a cyst on my liver. These physical conditions all come together to make keeping positive extremely difficult sometimes. The constant pain and discomfort gets me down if it goes on for too long, and I feel like I’m wasting my days if I take meds and sleep it off. Sure, there is a chance I could get it corrected with surgery (Colectomy – removing some or all of the diseased colon), but it’s an invasive procedure, with a 3-4 week recovery time, and I will need a colostomy bag until the procedure can be reversed – which may not be possible. At 43 years old, I don’t really rejoice in having to have a colostomy bag. But it’s getting to the point where I may have to, as my disease is getting worse, and the risk of my bowel wall perforating, which could lead to septicemia and possibly death.
Anyway, enough rambling. How does this affect you? Well, unless you’re in contact with me on a daily basis, you probably don’t care, so it probably doesn’t affect you. Even if you are in contact with me on a daily basis, it probably won’t affect you, because I will try and protect you from it and you may never even know. Those of you who do know and have been there for me will know my gratitude.
If you know someone who suffers from depression, bipolar, schizophrenia. shizoaffective disorder or any other mental health issue, but you are unsure how to “deal” with that person, then let me help you out. Be there for them. You don’t have to spend every waking hour glued to their side, but make yourself available to them ESPECIALLY if you know they are having an episode. You don’t have to give them medical advice, you don’t have to give them ANY advice, just listen and let them know they are not alone. Sometimes they just need someone to talk to. Some find it easier to talk to a friend, others prefer to talk to a stranger. There is nothing worse than feeling alone, then reaching out to someone for help, and they don’t seem to care, or they appear too busy to be there for you. If someone reaches out to you – please do your absolute best to be 100% there for them, even if only for a short while. Stop what you’re doing and just listen to them. It could literally be the difference between life and death.
Here endeth my sermon. I hope that anyone reading this who suffers from depression can find the inner peace they crave, the help they need. I hope that anyone reading this who knows someone who suffers from depression has gained a little insight, or maybe realises that the person isn’t the only one who suffers it. I hope that this makes a difference to SOMEONE. I’m always happy to talk to anyone who has questions regarding mental health. I will always talk openly and honestly about it, so feel free to hit me up on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ia7xshadowsi
Thanks for reading. Peace and love